Chekhov’s Gun

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.

Chekhov’s Gun is a dramatic principle formulated by the playwright Anton Chekhov. Roughly speaking, it dictates that all elements presented in a dramatic framework must also be used within said dramatic framework. If something is not utilized, it is pointless and can therefore be omitted. Every present element becomes necessary and irreplaceable. Any piece of puzzle inevitably foreshadows a future event.

Though interesting and potentially useful, the principle does not translate well to mechanic. Video games implicitly feature choice, however little, down to choosing whether you play the game at all or not. Barring explicit railroading, there is no real way to force a player to use a certain object in a certain way, not if the object of a game is to allow expression rather than convey orders.

The principle can, however, be bastardized into useful form. Leaving aside for the moment the imperative of actually using an object, the very presence and possibility of using an object can add to the character and possible execution of a scene. Slathering a scene with weaponry adds violence and threat to a scene even if they are not used. Whether this still qualifies as actual use of Chekhov’s Gun is doubtful. The necessity of use appears to be paramount, so, by definition, it would appear that it cannot work well within an interactive environment.

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