Written by kube00, Erik Kubik Monday, 02 May 2011 10:30
Morality is a hot topic in video games this generation, everything from epic RPGs to FPS games are using it. Make this choice, and the game ends this way. Or do this and the player receives an reward. The question is, does morality really matter? Would games be better off without morality?
Some games force players to make a choice and once that choice is made there is no going back. This means a player may have to replay the entire game again. Fallout 3 is a great example, if you choose to enslave this person, destroy a certain town or tower, you may have a different path or ending then if you didn’t do those things. Once you do them there is no going back.
The Mass Effect series is a shining example of morality. There are different responses and actions, paragon/renegade, which pull and point players in a certain direction with their party. In the end this leads to having to make difficult decisions that may impact the game as a whole.
Fable is also notorious for having a morality compass: Bad vs. Good. If gamers follow the path to evil, they can expect to take this role of death and destruction to heart. Bioshock and Infamous also play around with morality although not in the way other games do. Whether gamers chose to play Cole and take the evil path in Infamous or deciding to kill the little Sisters in Bioshock, the end rewards for their actions are nothing to write home about.
GTA IV is another example; the protagonist Niko has had hard life. Throughout the game he indicates he wants to make changes, to do the right thing. This never really works as most of the time gamers are steering Niko down a self inflicted destructive path. Are these good indications of in-game morality? I don’t think so; these are more of a twist on morality with no long-term consequences. Morality, if it’s going to be used in games, is best used to drastically alter the course of the game, forcing players to mull over their decision.
There’s an article on Gamespot that discusses morality. To summarize it, developers, publishers, and video game journalists seem to think morality engages the player on a deeper level. Players have to think about their actions and this isn’t a black-and-white concept.
This morality compass is complicated. But I have to know, do we as players want this? I don’t know if I want to think about my actions and the consequences every time I have a conversation in Fallout 3. I would just rather nuke everything and be done with it.
I think some games need to remove the morality compass. Get rid of it, I know developers are trying to make their games more interactive and real to gamers. But in the end this just leads to more confusion. If we wanted to question every action I’d think about the real world more; games are supposed to take us away from having us think. Games shouldn't make gamers think about every little action.
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