Humans are driven by curiosity. The possibility of learning something new — maybe even something that no one has uncovered before — compels us to explore. It’s why we plunge into the depths of the ocean inside little mechanical pods, or launch ourselves into space to discover if Mars could one day be colonized.

On a less grandiose scale, I think it’s also one of the reasons that many of us are drawn to video games. Simply put, we’re inquisitive, and the games we play use complex narratives and intriguing settings to exploit that curiosity. Sometimes they even give us what we passionately seek: answers.

Games like Oxenfree and Firewatch masterfully weaved curiosity into their narratives, and that kept me extremely engaged. Even throughout each game’s quieter, “walking simulator” moments, I pushed forward, because I so desperately wanted to know what would happen next.

Oxenfree 2

I played Oxenfree upon its recent PS4 release, and I couldn’t help but be drawn into the mystery experienced by the group of teenagers. Everything about it intrigued me, and the list of questions I had going in only grew. Who are these kids? Why are they here? Why is this island so creepy? What the heck is actually going on? The deeper I dug into the narrative, and the more I explored the location, the more curious I became. I needed answers, even though I was slightly afraid of what I was going find.

I engaged all the characters in conversation as often as I could, hoping that their dialogue would help me figure out the mystery. Every time the screen shifted to a new scene, I paused, and carefully examined the landscape before moving forward, in case there were hidden clues amidst the scenery and sound design. I slowly made my way through every part of the island, listening to every guided audio tour, to piece together the history of the island. I wanted to uncover as much information as possible before moving on, in case I left an area that I would never return to…  

My curiosity eventually paid off. I discovered  the unnerving truth, and my theory was indeed correct; victory! The mystery behind the strange time loops, creepy lights, and scary voices had unravelled.

Once I’d reached an ending, I immediately planned to do more playthroughs to see how choosing different dialogue options affects the outcome. There had to be snippets of dialogue that I had missed that would lend even more life to the story, and maybe a different ending.

Firewatch

The same thing happened with Firewatch. The game’s faceless characters, Henry and Delilah, were so mysterious; their motives unclear. I wanted to know everything about Delilah. I wanted to know everything about Henry. Is he the bad guy, or the good guy? Is there even a bad or good guy here?

For the majority of the game, I moved through the world waiting for a jumpscare of epic proportions, but it never came. The narrative, with all its unanswered questions, kept me going while I walked along paths and through shrubbery in silence. I spent half my time looking for something — anything — I had missed. I was even convinced that aliens were involved, and took my time searching for evidence of their existence near my tower.

But there were no aliens. No jump scares. No grand schemes. The story was shrouded in mystery, and even though nothing supernatural occurred, it almost felt like it had.

I have mixed feelings about the ending of Firewatch. Part of me wanted an elaborate, outrageous conspiracy; the other satisfied with the ending as it was because it illustrated the human thirst for adventure, our drive to uncover the truth, and how after it’s discovered, we simply move on. My questions had driven me forward, but in the end, so many remained unanswered. It brought me to the accurate realization that not all questions will be answered.

Overwatch

Even big titles like Overwatch bank on curiosity to keep players interested and involved in the game. Blizzard gave us a whole host of heroes with unique abilities and attacks to explore. That’s what drew me in and kept me going throughout solo matches. Even though it’s  been out for a few weeks now, there’s still a handful of heroes I haven’t even tried yet. I’ve discovered that I am great at playing as D.Va, mediocre as Pharah, and terrible as Tracer. I remained interested in Overwatch despite my failures, because I wanted to learn how to play at least semi-well with as many characters as I could. My curious mind wasn’t satisfied with depending on Soldier 76 as my go-to hero when, with a little bit of work, I could learn the ins-and-outs of someone new. I’m enjoying Overwatch because it pushes me to ask questions and try new things. Combining D.Va’s jets with her ultimate ability created a devastating attack. Using Pharah’s Jump Jets with her Rocket Barrage directly over the point my team was trying to take cleared it out, letting my teammates through. My curiosity to try new things in Overwatch was rewarded with success.

Gamers, in my opinion, are more driven by curiosity than most people out there. Need to infiltrate a heavily guarded ship floating in the middle of space? We’re on it. Building an enormous structure but only have a small amount of resources? We will find a way. I’m proud to be part of a group of such innovators, explorers, and leaders. I can’t wait to see where our curiosity in games will take us in the future.