What of players who face the moral dilemma of being asked to watch someone but doesn’t feel comfortable doing it? They to have their game.
Both of these situations are faced in Beholder where the player is Carl, a state-installed Landlord living in a totalitarian State who must spy on tenants, eavesdrop on them and place wiretaps and cameras to build profiles and report on anyone capable of plotting subversion against the State.
Although players know they should, will they? This is the question the title for Alawar and Warm Lamp Games poses.
“Every choice in Beholder has a direct consequence, as you live in a dystopian future where a totalitarian State owns your life, laws are oppressive, surveillance is total and privacy is dead”, said Evgeny Sister, Producer at Alawar. “Actions during Beholder require a moral decision - as a family man, do you report on a doctor, who may be an underground revolutionary? But what if he is the only one able to heal your child?”
The game starts innocently enough, Carl’s daily routine as the landlord of an apartment house is to make the property attractive to its tenants. But, employed by the state Carl has ulterior motives and will use any means available to observe, whether it's spying, eavesdropping or wiretapping to build tenant profiles and report any illegal activities to the authorities.
If this sounds at all familiar to anyone who’s sat through a series of English Literature, it should. Inspired heavily by George Orwell’s groundbreaking 1984 the philosophical narrative of Beholder, opens up questions around issues of social and moral values.
‘If you are given power to destroy privacy, should you follow the orders of the giver? Or should you treat those that you spy on the way they deserve? Who decides what is deserved? And what if two different people deserve to be saved, but one has to go? Who will you choose?’