Prologue: Is fate in your hands?

When the cataclysm is right in front of our eyes, do we stand there hopelessly? On one hand, some would be quick to resign to the elusive notion of “fate”, seeing as the apocalyptic events are unfolding beyond the control of any one individual. On the other hand, just as many narratives interpreting the apocalypse defend the idea that humanity has a fighting chance to survive, contingent on our choice to rally together in solidarity.

In this issue, the authors add to this ongoing discussion on the effects our choices have on our future. Through texts concerning the apocalypse, the philosophical discussion on freewill versus determinism becomes all the more salient as the stakes are drastically raised, where the choice of a single individual could possibly ensure the survival of humanity, or further condemn it to its doom…

Firstly, Veronike-Nicole Ban, in “The Apocalyptic Dimensions of War: the centrality of Biblical narrative subversion in William Butler Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’,” discusses how past immoral decisions set humanity on a fatalistic path to self-destruction. Subverting the biblical apocalyptic narrative, this article argues that Yeats’ impactfully condemned the atrocities of World War I by conveying a resigned tone towards the moral perversion of mankind.

Time travel would be the ultimate choice, especially when facing one’s doom. Does time travel have the provisions for free will to allow the time traveller to prevent an apocalyptic future like the dystopian future depicted in The Terminator (1984)? Or is timeline pre-determined and time travel one of the means by which the timeline achieves the predetermined future? In “Determinism or Free Will: Time Travel in The Terminator (1984)and Back to the Future (1985)”, Hussain Fathah compares the perceptions of time travel in The Terminator (1984) and Back to the Future (1985) to better understand whether the time traveller truly has a choice. Hussain compares this to American sentiments during the Cold War.

Undertale manages to subvert common tropes in video games, mainly that found in the two common genres of Role-Playing Games (RPGs) and choice based games. Amanda Lim analyses how Undertale sets itself apart from other games with the introduction of choice, resulting in a difference in player interaction with the game. By comparing these differences, the article explores how the introduction of choice encourages morality in the choices that players make.

Are all our choices in video games pre-determined by their linear narratives? In “Moral Engagement and Time-Travel in Life is Strange“, Claire Low suggests that time-travel in the game provides a new dimension of choice as the players now are in control of the outcome of the game. She questions whether time travel will allow the consequences of players’ actions to be independent from the pre-determined narrative. Due to Life is Strange’s subversion of the linear narrative, the article argues that its unique mechanic of time-travel allows for greater moral engagement among players.

Lastly, Marcus Chew’s article explores the theme of agency in the context of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In his essay, he notes how depictions of AI in popular cinema have generally been pessimistic, with AI turning against their human creators. However, he notes that depictions of AI in popular cinema have been turning more positive in recent years. His article performs a comparative analysis of two of such films – Interstellar and Her. In his article, he seeks to answer the question of how much agency, or ability to make decisions, AI is given and the consequences this has on humans.