Did Video Games Help Me Accept Inception's Ending?

From the second Inception ended, I've been bumping into people who are trying to sort out it's ending. I'm not one of them, thanks, I think, to video games. (Note: I won't spoil Inception's ending here, but commenters probably will.)

The struggle people are having with the ending is sorting out what the next moment would be after the final scene. The final scene of the film makes it clear that one of two possible events will happen next. Some Inception viewers are convinced that event A will happen; others that event B will happen.

I've been surprised people are so determined to deduce which ending is the real ending. But I've realised it's odd that I'm happy not to know, odder still that I'm willing to think that both endings happened and that I don't stress over which is correct.

The reason I might be OK with believing that Inception has two equally valid truths to its endings is, possibly, because one of the main forms of entertainment I consume often includes works with equally valid endings. In video games, Mass Effect can end the Paragon way or the Renegade way. Both are valid. Both are accepted as true when you play Mass Effect 2. Fable II can end in three ways, and all are, in my mind, the "reality" of the fiction.

I don't worry that the way the video game ended for me was not the right way, nor that the way it ended for someone else is more or less the truth.

There was a time I cared whether there was really a cat in Schrodinger's box. Today I don't worry much whether Inception's next scene is one way or the other.

I accept both as true. I don't see a mystery; I see a valid branching that leads to two equally valid realities. Is that what happens to those of us who consume not just books that traditionally have only one ending, but video games, which commonly have two or more?



    Well for me idc what the ending is, but if i had to put my money on it, i would say that he is in a dream. I mean if you look at the clues properly. His totem would usually fall over in 5 seconds, but at the end it is still constantly spinning, going to tip then going back. That is enough for me to figure out he's in a dream

      The point of having him spin the totem then walk off was to show that it no longer matters to him. He's got back what he lost, what he'd been fighting for, that's all that matters to him now.

        Although I agree with you, I could also be said that he is throwing the totem away and embracing the dream world.

      If you pay attention to one particular rule established early on, about dreams always starting in action and with Ariadne not know how they got to the cafe. You will realise that both Cobb's journey to the house and the editing is that of a reality scene, not a dream.

      Also, for some reason I believe that they wouldn't show the kids' faces in a dream. Cobb stated earlier in the film that he only wanted to see them in reality.

        The movie starts in action, even the part after the flashforward.

        Also, the kids haven't changed a bit from the way he remembers them. If I recall, they're even wearing the same clothes. Since he hasn't seen them grow up, maybe he can't imagine them older than he remembers them, so in the dream they've stayed young.

    It stops spinnng. Apparently if you play the sound up, you can hear it slowing down. It wouldn't slow down in the dream.

    I think the fact that no ageing has occurred is proof that there was only one possible outcome. Self Inception to believe it's true.

    Michael, do some work and stop linking me addictive Kotaku pages.

    "There was a time I cared whether there was really a cat in Schrodinger’s box"

    There definitely IS a cat in Schrodinger's box. The question is whether it's dead or alive...

    He gets what he always dreamed of (his kids back, no more psycho dream wife) and is now "living the dream"

    Wow, the ending really doesn't matter, like at all unless you are one of those people who just can't stand not knowing the answer to every unanswered question in the film.

    Cobb gets what he wants, no it wasn't a dream the whole time, though there are are a few points where he could have slipped in and not come out.

    If I had to answer it, to me, it fell, it wobbled as it usually does and unlike dreams he knows how he got there. It just seems like Nolan is using rule he exstablished earlier to see if everyone was paying attention.

    The ending particularly the totem is... wait for it... INCEPTION and you are the target.

    Looks like this inception took.

      tl;dr: both endings are acceptable because Cobb gets what he wants in the end.

    Very interesting point - perhaps Inception, especially given that Christopher Nolan has alwyas been interested in putatively non-linear storylines even as they exist within the linear medium of a movie, is an attempt to embrace the very kind of acceptance of multiple contradictory "truths" that you propose are endemic to video games, and therefore engender the acceptance of such in players of video games. Very interesting point.

      reminds me of Alan Wake...

      I think there is no answer to whether it fell or it didn't. That's the point. If you asked Christopher Nolan if it fell or not I think he would say "Neither. Didn't you see the fucking movie?"

      To those who think they have it figured out because it wobbles a bit or because 'if you play the sound up, you can hear it slowing down', don't you think he added those things in to put some doubt in your mind? Otherwise people like you would say 'it showed absolutely no signs of slowing, therefore I have figured it out and it spins forever.'

      And if he's in his own dream then the totem would fall over anyway, so if it fell it wouldn't confirm that he's in reality.

      And to be honest I don't understand why it would spin forever in someone else's dream anyway. Even if the dreamer is not familiar with that specific spinning top, they should have an understanding of how a spinning top should behave and therefor any spinning top in their dream would fall over. The weighted dice makes more sense to me.

      I'm confused and need to see it again...

      And the games you mention, even though they do have multiple possible endings, they do end at either one or the other don't they? If so, I don't see how that would prepare you for a story which leaves you at neither possibility.

    It's obviouse at the end his not dreaming because the spinning top starts to wobble. If it was in a dream it would never have wobbled.

    the ending 'what if' seemed forced to me and as a result I didn't give a shit.

    Rest of the movie was brilliant though.

    @Warden - cool to see somebody else mention that issue with the spinning top as a totem, versus the die...the top is almost a negative example of a totem..

    Anyway, I realised that also but haven't seen anyone else on any forums who did. I brought it up with a friend and she suggested that maybe in a dreamworld constructed by somebody else, because it's his subconscious populating it he may still be able to exert enough force to MAKE the spinning top spin unceasingly; if he can't do that, then it must be reality. I dunno about that though.

    Ultimately I think the end is reality. Nolan put enough evidence throughout the film to make us doubt that, but nothing definitive, which is the basic theme of the movie - the inception of a small seed of doubt that takes hold and makes u go on msg boards dying to find out for certain one way or the other

    There's a fundamental flaw in this article: ambiguous endings aren't new. I understand the concept that video games have conditioned us to accept multiple possibilities more readily, but it's hardly a concept that's exclusive to games.

    Anyone who thinks it 'did fall' or 'didn't fall' is missing the point. It did neither, and both. It is deliberately ambiguous. If you can't deal with that, I feel sorry for you.

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