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Morality In Games

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  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 17,916
    A bit off topic but related...

    I just watched the Netflix/Black Mirror interactive movie Bandersnatch last night. You make choices throughout the movie that determine the outcome.

    It does a good job of at least making you think about pre-determined outcomes and illusory choices.

    Fun little thought experiment.
    [Deleted User]KyleranAlBQuirky
    "Social media gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community ... but now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel Prize winner. It's the invasion of the idiots”

    ― Umberto Eco

    “Microtransactions? In a single player role-playing game? Are you nuts?” 
    ― CD PROJEKT RED

  • LokeroLokero Member RarePosts: 1,514
    Strangely enough, I think controlling an empire in an RTS-type game might be the closest thing to making the hard choices.

    These types of games might not have any real story, but they do force you to decide when abandon entire cities for the good of the nation.  One of the old saying is that you can't defend everything.
    We simply don't think of those games as moral choices because there's no direct NPC interaction with those city residents.

    Which brings up the point, we care more about the characters we are directly involved with.  In a game, if the choices are:

    1 - Save your squadmate that you've been playing the entire game with
    2 - Save a city with some nameless NPCs that are nothing more than a couple lines of text in the game

    It's pretty safe to assume, most people would probably save the character that is a part of their experience.  This is a good example of where consequence could really matter.

    Most games, you never see that city anyway, so who cares?  But, of course, if saving that city created some massive, fascinating metropolis you could set up a house, visit the market, fight in the arena, etc., to add to your game experience, you might consider it more seriously.

    On a real world note, if I had to choose between saving a world of millions of strangers vs. saving my own family, I'd watch the world burn.  I don't think either choice would be "morally wrong", though... unless you were the one destroying the world, of course :naughty:
    AlBQuirky
  • MendelMendel Member LegendaryPosts: 5,512
    For a good morality system to function in a game, the developer needs to put a sizable effort into the RPG aspects of their game.  Repercussions and consequences to actions exist, but are rarely black or white.  Playing a game is all about the decisions the player makes, and how that impacts the game world (including that character).  Few games bother to build such deep or dynamic decision points into a game, as the only tool is violence.  An axe to the other guy's face solves some problems, but it isn't a universal tool.  Games (and game development) tend to take a simplistic view of the world, and only offer select types of actions that can be performed, and the morality is pushed behind the code or ignore completely.



    AlBQuirky

    Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 7,391
    aummoid said:
    AlBQuirky said:
    I enjoy "morally gray" dilemmas from time to time, but also enjoy clean, cut and dried good vs evil. I often get frustrated because an action I take that I think is "morally just", the developers decides is not.

    Anyone else feel similarly? Anyone have no troubles with morality defined by some games?
    I don't generally have trouble recognizing any given moral decision imposed by the game mechanics, whether I agree with that moral code or not. As long as that's the case, it doesn't get in the way of game immersion.

    As an example, I don't expect SWTOR to define "light side" and "dark side" in a way that perfectly overlaps with what I might view as good or evil, because SWTOR's moral code is defined by canon related to the Force and my moral code is not.

    That said, I don't think game developers make very good philosophers and I find most of their efforts along these lines to be pretty ham-fisted. This is particularly the case in MMOs, where the bulk of player time and developer focus is spent on systems to provide fun and varied ways to kill everything in sight, with little or no negative consequence beyond an equipment repair bill. 
    This reminded me of when I first loaded up WoW. I read through the race descriptions and lore (Remember when games had manuals?) and really had trouble finding an "evil" side. It seemed that all of the Horde races had their rationales that kind of justified their actions. Those really cut back on how "evil" they seemed to be to me.

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • AmazingGamingAmazingGaming Member CommonPosts: 9
    Some players have little depth to their thinking, and will cheerfully use the “it’s just a game” argument to assert that there is nothing they wouldn’t do for experience points. Everything they are doing in the game world is fictional, none of the apparent symbols mean anything beyond their use as game tokens, and no real harm is done.

    Recently I had been playing Lineage 2 Classic. It’s an open world PVP based MMORPG, with freedom of actions and a light side/dark side morality system in place. In Lineage everyone has something that would introduce enough reality into their game world to shock them out of it. It doesn’t even have to be offensive: realworld toothpaste advertisements in a Fantasy world would probably do the trick. What these players mean when they say they would do anything is that they would do anything within their concept of what constitutes the magic circle.

    No matter how dedicated the player, there is always something which, if it were to appear in the game, would cause reality to interrupt so much that “it’s just a game” no longer applies. Sometimes, this is as a result of an external incident and cannot be helped.
    tweedledumb99AlBQuirky
  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 7,391
    Some players have little depth to their thinking, and will cheerfully use the “it’s just a game” argument to assert that there is nothing they wouldn’t do for experience points. Everything they are doing in the game world is fictional, none of the apparent symbols mean anything beyond their use as game tokens, and no real harm is done.

    Recently I had been playing Lineage 2 Classic. It’s an open world PVP based MMORPG, with freedom of actions and a light side/dark side morality system in place. In Lineage everyone has something that would introduce enough reality into their game world to shock them out of it. It doesn’t even have to be offensive: realworld toothpaste advertisements in a Fantasy world would probably do the trick. What these players mean when they say they would do anything is that they would do anything within their concept of what constitutes the magic circle.

    No matter how dedicated the player, there is always something which, if it were to appear in the game, would cause reality to interrupt so much that “it’s just a game” no longer applies. Sometimes, this is as a result of an external incident and cannot be helped.
    That's an interesting take on morality in video games. Thanks for that insight :)

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • AmatheAmathe Member LegendaryPosts: 7,630
    Just like I don't expect video games to realistically simulate combat, I don't expect them to realistically address ethics either.

    Besides, since nearly all games have us slaughter mass numbers of people and creatures just so that we can kill stronger people and creatures and take their stuff - the prevailing ethical compass points to evil.
    LokeroAlBQuirky

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • PalebanePalebane Member RarePosts: 4,011
    Chaotic stupid is pretty funny to me. I can just imagine saying some of the shit evil Shepard says to people.
    AlBQuirky

    Vault-Tec analysts have concluded that the odds of worldwide nuclear armaggeddon this decade are 17,143,762... to 1.

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