The characters we call “bosses” in videogames are the large monsters we have to defeat at the end of a level, but everywhere there are more insidious types of bosses, who better resemble micromanaging employers. The videogame designer often exerts his authority through a non-playable character, an ostensibly loveable sidekick who will bombard the player with increasingly heavy hints about what has to be done next. It’s not a suggestion; it is an order. We have all had the experience of arriving in an new area in a role-playing game, only to be greeted by a character who refuses to help us in our quest until we have collected the five pieces of her arbitrary amulet. Everywhere you go, you are told what to do. Of course a comprehensible goal-oriented structure is a useful thing, to stop a videogame becoming a sprawling mess of undermotivated wandering and backtracking. But while the just-following-orders structure works acceptably in military-themed games such as Splinter Cell, which after all do pretend to be more or less “realistic” representations of the job of a counter-terrorist or special forces agent, where a commander delivers objectives and the soldier finds ways to implement them, the idea seems more rebarbative the further one strays from quasi-simulation into pure fantasy.