Most games situate the player in a position of extreme power, where civilizations rise and fall at whim. Nightmare Mode writes about exploring the subject of weakness in games and challenges how much influence should be given to a player in a game's world.
"It is common for marketers of open-world role playing games to brag about the player’s power to influence their title’s world. Often, the player’s arrival in the game world leads to drastic changes. The player’s avatar may quickly rise to social prominence – he alone has the power to initiate significant events, and soon becomes a favorite topic of conversation among non-playable characters. In Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout 3 (2008), for example, the player has the power to orchestrate the nuclear destruction of major population centers, and the in-game radio frequently broadcasts his movements. Player characters in Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006) may become the leader of all three in-game trade guilds, the champion of the arena, a venerated crusader, and the god of an entire alternate dimension. In short, these game worlds revolve around the player’s character.
Investing such power in the hands of the player could be a vestige from more linear games. In any case, while the short-term emotional payoff of dramatic influence is appreciable (“Whoa! I’m the leader of the Mages Guild, the Fighters Guild, and the Thieves Guild!”), it ultimately undermines open-world games’ depth and therefore their lasting appeal. Realistically, a world in which the player character can achieve inordinate significance cannot have been particularly complex. "