So I just finished the main quest for Fable II (I know, I know, Fable II’s been out for a long while now and lots of people have finished it. But those people weren’t me.). In any other game, this would mean that I’d beaten the game, that it was all over and I could move on to the next one. In Albion (the fictional world of Fable II), though, after a hero completes a quest, there’s still more life to live. You can go on and marry again, have children, do more (less important) missions, and continue to become either good or evil. I find this very comforting. The Lord of the Rings, my go-to source for all things heroic, ends with Sam saying, “Well, I’m back.” The implication at the end is that Sam has more life to live, with a pretty wife and lovely children.
I like this deferral of finality. The last page of the book may have been written, the last cut-scene of the plot may have been shown, but the story continues. As I adventure through my life (and I like to think of my life as an adventure, because I’m prone to hyperbole), I undertake various quests and complete challenges. These don’t usually (usually) involve decapitating trolls, shooting the World’s Greatest Evil in the face, or watching corpses magically transform into gold pieces, but they’re still difficult and they do come with their own rewards. One thing that has always been so different between real-life hero tales and, say, Baldur’s Gate III (I’ve been playing video games for a long time), is that the story ends. The game ends. Our lives, on the other hand, are significantly less final. When I finished my M.A., my life didn’t end (though at times I may have felt like I was dying). There was no fade-to-black at graduation. Instead, I moved on to the next challenge. Since I believe in an afterlife, and in a particular kind of afterlife that allows people to continue to grow and progress after death, for me, the quest is never going to be over. There will always be something new to experience and appreciate.
I know it’s kind of silly to get all of this from a video game, but I really like seeing that principle in my entertainment. Life goes on, you know? Always.