Weighing choices based on your morality CAN be not just difficult, but also interesting when you see measurable consequences that stem from such decisions. Incorporating such a scheme in a video game means that people can experiment with their own moral code within a controlled environment and directly see the effect. For example, Fallout 3 may be based in a world far from our own (both in time and social climate), but MANY of the choices you make in that game directly correlate to REAL WORLD issues (slavery, euthanasia, charity, racial prejudice, drug use). I'm not saying all games should incorporate this. Needless to say, a large portion of players want their video games simple in this regard, as making complex decisions reminds them too much of real life, which they endeavor to escape from. But for some of us, a little complexity is EXACTLY what we're looking for. I mean, imagine a game where you DON'T have a bar that tells you how good or bad you are. You AREN'T told immediately if something you did makes you a bad or good person. A game where the only way you can measure yourself against the common morality of society is by interacting with people you personally have affected. That is my idea of a real role-playing game.
You and your three companions step out of the elevator doors to a peaceful scene: an airport lounge milling with unsuspecting bystanders. No one has seen you, or the machine guns. In an instant it’s all over: a shower of bullets, screams, falling bodies, and blood-stained carpet. Your companions have moved on, executing those left alive. What do you do?
The emergence of morality in video games is arguably one of the most important innovations of the medium to date. Like in the above example from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, giving players moral choice is a progressive development in games that adds more weight and substance to player decisions, leading to a more immersive and satisfying experience. Whether it’s abstaining from shooting civilians while infiltrating a terrorist cell, saving or harvesting Little Sisters, or holding the fate of the Capital Wasteland’s people in your hands, moral decision making in games is becoming an increasingly popular aspect of game development.
But is it all an illusion?
Morality is not a black-and-white concept. Reality is very seldom as simple as a choice between good and evil; the spectrum of moral behaviours is as complicated and consequential as our emotions. Instead of mirroring this complexity and including moral choices that lead to genuine in-game consequences, video games often do the opposite--they present a watered-down version of moral choice that ultimately results in players having to choose between good or evil: to harvest or not to harvest (BioShock), to be “paragon” or “renegade” (Mass Effect), to kill innocents or to save them (inFamous), to have a halo or devil horns (Fable II).
In this GameSpot AU feature we will look at the problems arising from morality systems in video games, and seek to answer why morality is needed in games, why moral choice is so often just black and white, and what developers can do to change this. In Part One of the feature we’ll speak to philosophers and game theorists and in Part Two we'll speak to developers to find out whether complex moral choices are needed--or wanted---in games and how morality systems can be improved.
In a nutshell, morality refers to the codes of conduct that form the backbone of a society. Generally, morality is concerned with how people should behave rather than how they do behave. Morality can change over time and take on new meaning as people and environments evolve--for example, slavery was once accepted as morally permissible, whereas now it is accepted that enslaving another human being is immoral. In philosophy, morality and ethics go hand in hand: morality pertains to certain rules and codes of conduct while ethics pertains to the application of these rules in society.
Morality as it applies to video games can be thought of in much the same way. Players are most often asked to decide on a morally correct or incorrect course of action. This pertains to in-game behaviour and, in most games, is intended to shift the outcome of the game in one way or another depending on what the player has chosen to do. However, as we will see later, it is most often the case that these in-game choices have little or no bearing whatsoever on the end outcome, resulting in an insincere portrayal of morality. But why should we care? Why do we need morality in games at all, when it’s perfectly obvious that some games function perfectly without it?
Emil Pagliarulo, lead designer for Fallout 3, knows that morality does not play a role in every game. He does, however, believe that if the scope for a moral system is there, it’s up to the developers to make it work.
“If it makes sense to include moral choices, if that’s something central to a game’s themes or gameplay, and it makes the game a more enjoyable experience overall, then morality certainly has a role,” Pagliarulo said. “In Fallout 3, the struggle of people in a post-apocalyptic wasteland lends itself perfectly to a morality component, so for us, it was a must," he said.
“It’s the job of the developers to define their experience for players, and determine exactly where each system fits in. Is the game fun in a hack-everyone’s-limbs-off sort of way, or is it fun in a wow-this-game-made-me-think-and-did-stuff-I-never-expected sort of way?”
For Pagliarulo, the appeal of a morality system is to break the monotony of experiencing the same thing over and over again. He says gamers have come to realise that there isn’t a lot of experimentation or thinking outside the box in the games industry at the moment--for every LittleBigPlanet there are five first-person shooters with the same mechanics, structure, and story. But morality systems shake things up; gamers have to think about their actions and choices and, more importantly, the reasons behind them.
“I think players simply get tired of experiencing the same things over and over and over in games. Frankly, it gets boring. When morality’s involved, the simple act of shooting a bad guy isn’t so simple anymore. You’ve got to ask yourself, 'Well, is he really the bad guy? Was he maybe just trying to defend himself? Should I really be doing this?' So just the act of questioning what you’ve done a thousand times before instantly makes it different, and more interesting, and therefore, in a lot of cases, more fun," he said.
BioWare writer and designer Mike Laidlaw agrees that morality adds depth to games. He says that even when morality has no long-term impact in the game world, a game with a morality system is better than one without it.
“The role of a morality system is a means by which a game can be aware of the way a player is interacting with the in-game world; in some ways it’s a way for players to measure their own progress in a certain way. It’s also a mechanic that lets us realise that these choices have some weight. It helps players understand that the things they’re doing and the choices they’re making have an impact beyond the moment," he said.
“Even if it doesn’t have a long-term effect, it still forces players to think about those moments. I’m not saying that every morality system ever made is the best thing ever. I think in general, anything that makes a game more interactive, whether it’s successful or not, is good. It plays to the strength of the developer and the medium. I can’t defend it in all cases, but when it’s done with a good intent and done as well as it can be I think it makes the player engage with the game on a deeper level.”
Most games portray a dualistic morality system: regardless of context, players end up playing as either ‘good’ or ‘evil’ characters. Some games employ a ‘morality meter’ that promises to keep track of players’ in-game actions and change their experience accordingly. Sadly, this very rarely happens--most games that promise a tailor-made experience according to player choices end up disappointingly consistent and devoid of any real consequences for a player's actions. This results in an experience that feels like it has more depth but very often just has the illusion of depth. So why is morality in games so black and white?
Peter Rauch, a Comparative Media Studies graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA, is a veteran gamer: in his own words, he’s been gaming since he was “old enough to stand on a milk crate to reach the joystick at arcades”, and he’s been studying them ever since. His last years at MIT were spent researching morality in games, looking at how moral arguments could be used in games to encourage players to pay attention and provide new ways to think about it in the real world.
“What I’ve found is that video games are a great medium for provoking discussion of moral issues among players who already think a great deal about such things,” Rauch said. “However, most games use a hodge-podge of different moral systems and when these conflict, the result can be bizarre.” Click on the Next Page link to see the rest of the feature!
@ Khatjal Ok, so I think we get the general feeling about your overwhelming pessimism and lack of faith in humanity. But just for a second, let's not speak in sweeping generalities and assertions. First off, the average person who spends a large portion of their time playing video games is near the age of 33. If you think the majority (let's say 70+%) of 33 year-old people can't think in more than black and white, I seriously question how much thought you put into this subject. Second, people (as in most people) have to deal with gray area in their decisions on a daily basis. I'm not saying these decisions are earth-shattering, they could be as simple as the response to 'how are you'? Honestly, how many times have you THOUGHTFULLY considered that question and been able to immediately answer 'absolutely perfect' or 'kill me now'. Answering such a question truthfully can require some thought, despite its inconsequential nature, and more often than not, your answer would be somewhere far between 'good' and 'bad' (otherwise known as neutral or gray area) .
The general populace doesn't have the brain power to distinguish anything other than black or white choices. The grey middle ground is too ambiguous and not "obvious" enough for the layman. Think of your typical racist thought process. To them the whole world is black and white with few shades of grey: "This is good, that is bad... don't try to tell me otherwise". It's sad, but human nature tends to gravitate to absolutes (Ex: "God controls everything", "All these things are similar", "They're always like that..."). Adding shades of grey will make video games unenjoyable for the vast majority of people, because they won't be able to relate. ...And no, i'm not insinuating that i'm not among the vast unwashed masses of lay people. I'm human as well, and like all people I think in absolutes too.
It's great not having to be clean cut hero or Kratos style anti-hero in gaming given the correct context. It does add a breath of fresh air when you are not dictated to complete a story to save the game world or characters you may not care about. Unless of course it is Bioshock, the morality of harvesting didn't add anything to the game. I really liked inFamous' morality system. It wasn't just your notoriaty shooting up when choosing to unleash chaos when fighting your foes but it was how the game world reacted to you as a consequence of your actions. If you were loved you had people gather around you if you stayed still, taking phoos, asking for autographs, girls screaming in delight at the sight of you, praising your acrobatics/ fighting/ climbing and even trying to aid you in combat time to time. On the flip side when you were bad people ran in the oppoisite direction screaming or cowered at the sight of you and there was always one who would stand toe to toe and give you a dressing down or spat on you. Even the ability to form mobs and attack you. This was completely missed in games like Oblivion and Fallout and to a lesser extent Fable. That is the type of thing that is needed to reward morality, seeing peoples perception of you with your accolades in the game world.
Its ncie they're adding more and more things onto the world of gaming. Hope they can keep up with such ideas.
I like what oblivion did, no karma system but you are treated differently by the public. If your a murderous and theiving person your treated with disrespect by people who are good and greeted friendly by those who have a lack of morality. But Oblivion was not a game focused on morality, i found fallout was.
Darkrobe's idea of a quiz pre game isn't a bad way of going about it but if you limit it a little bit just not as much as as they have and take out the +3 good or -2 bad it could be done without much work at all things like if i help this guy these guys die and these live or the other way round if you don't and the game never gave you that ended a good way or bad comment on it then really you just picked what you thought was right or wrong i think that's what they are really getting at leaving it open ended and taking out karma bars like in my last post dragon age makes a good step in that the only good and bad is what you think then what your party members think but it's still things like destroy the most holy of ashes or not 90% of people read into what the programs think is good or bad in that. they just need more open to interpretation kind of situations for the player to have to pick rather than a cat in the tree kind of thing how bout do i fund the black smiths or the potion masters tell they monopolize the city do i fight along side the thief's of the underworld or the smuggles things like in halo are the red team or blue team good or bad? it became a internet comedy cause it's impossible to pick unless you hate one of the colors all they need to do is make it impact the game world in some way and you can pick for yourself if you think that one of the 2 sons of almost the same right and both have the love or hate or maybe both of their people is the good or evil king
I think the article was well done but missed an important note in that the amount of code to do a proper morality in a game would be overwhelming. The gray area would have to be huge, not just black/white; just like in life. Such as stealing something to help someone because the NPC won't give you the item willingly due to your moral character standing; which is full of gray. Does the end result justify the means? Can you imagine writing all the code for this, plus the storyline text menus, as well as trying to gauge whether it is right or wrong. We are all individuals, and what games miss out on is that what is perceived as "good" in a game is subject to the whim of the person(s) writing the code; perhaps what I think is good is far different than the developer does and the choices presented aren't good at all; especially from a religious context (i.e. sexual relations outside of marriage for Mass Effect; which brings up the gender question as well if you chose to be a lesbian but then again the Ansari gender is comprised of both). As game development increases into the morality what needs to be done is gauging what the gamer considers good, bad, and gray; with some sort of morality quiz prior to the game to determine how the game plays out; now that would be an interesting game to play!
Driving to work to support your family: Good. Driving to work and do hit-and-run on pedestrian on way to work: Bad. Driving to work and hit a pedestrian, stop and call police: Bad/Good. Driving to work and hit a pedestrian trying to rape/mug/attack another person: Good/Bad. Everyone loves a hero, hates the villain in most stories. But realistically we can't stop wondering about anti-hero's who do the right thing the wrong way for the right reasons by their own point-of-view. Morality isn't about either just good or bad, right and wrong. Its about making the best of a bad situation or screwing up a perfectly good one. That is our reality and at the moment is just way too much code to put into a home computer or console.
Irrational I think you completely ignored the fact that morality is solely a byproduct of human consciousness. There are no core values that are mutually exclusive from religion or metaphysics. Morality and ethics have their roots entirely in religion, only recently have people begun to examine the idea that there are standards that should apply universally, independent of religion. Anyway, I'm not sure what they're talking about in fallout 3. You have complete moral flexibility. If you do something evil, all you have to do is give a bum a bottle of water, or do any other good deed, and you will get karma back. Granted, doing "evil" things nets you a far greater amount of negative karma points than any "good" actions will, but it's far from impossible to go from -1000 karma points to 1000 karma and back and forth again, for anyone who actually plays 100% of the game.
Most moral decisions are black and white if you really think about it, unless you were raised without any.. So thats why they are in video games too, maybe they are a little more exagerated but isnt every thing else in a video game.. stupid article
Props to Gamespot for a great article... its a shame I had to search the homepage for it. It should be more prominent.
i think they are slowly getting better about the way they go about it like in dragon age i made many avatars each with there own way of handling things rather than good or evil at first i meant to k she's good this ones bad but soon i was making he's a soldier good at heart but will kill anyone for revenge or she only cares for animals and other elf's like in the city elf home at first giving the elf money seemed like the good thing to do but at the 3rd time he came up with friends not even trying to pretend they were in need attacking him seemed like a nice option i want to see even more depth than that and hope bioware has put some of it in mass effect 2
I retract my comment from part one of this article about not mentioning Dragon Age's morality system. Good work Gamespot!
great. an epic moment of a great game ruined in the first few seconds of reading. im waiting for my new laptop before i get modern warfare 2 so ive been rather stern with not ruining anything about the single player. a little warning would be nice.
I think it's fine for games to have the main goal, save the world, it gives you a clear cut picture of good vs. evil, but I think they should start thinking more in the real world much like how Dragon Age did and start letting the players natures dictate how they go about saving the world. Does my nature as a person delve into evil deeds for the greater good, or as a morally righteous person does always doing the right thing at the moment always mean I'm doing the "right thing" for the future, can there be a consequence? I think it's great for there to be a grey and ambiguitiy just as it is in real life. Think about it, if you give a homeless man a dollar you might feel like you did the right thing, but was that dollar all he needed to buy himself another drink and spur himself into further depression?
First off, I think Molyneux tries way to damn hard to coerce emotion out of his games. The only way you can get a true sense of morality in games is to have a good story and believable characters. And that's VERY TOUGH to do. Fable 2 was a let down. He would brag about his dog (and although it was cool) it no where near matched the emotional weight of Aeris' death, for example. Games are based in binary, 1s and 0s, hence programmers find it easy to only make morality either Good or Evil. And people, I think in general like the ease of having a clear objective, to not have to think so hard and just KILL, KILL, KILL. So I think in the end that everyone involved gets caught up in a false dichotomy of whether something is good or bad, when the focus shouldn't even be that at all. Final Fantasy, Suikoden, Deus EX, Mass Effect, hell even WoW to a certain extent, blur that line of Good and Evil; how characters struggle with their nature and how tyrants do too. As someone mentioned earlier, like most myths and stories you have to have conflict and that comes from a well defined protagonist and antagonist. It is easy. With the advent of more and more technologies, as writing for games becomes more and more lucrative we'll see deeper stories and morals, hopefully even within an even more viable indie community.
I played The Witcher and also participated in the forum on the developer's site. I actually asked them if the writer of the game was a sociologist, and one of them answered that several of the team came from social science backgrounds. I loved the game because the moral conundrum that was involved created characters like Lutinpofin. He expected a polarized morality system and got pwned! IMO, The Witcher's morality system was not flawed... it was deviously brilliant!
Peter Molyneux can certainly learn a lot from Bioware Less floating numbers and more subtlety please
The problem with morality in games is that games usually have you tasked with saving the world. What a game needs to do is reduce the goal of the PC, at least if it wants to do so-called "grey" choices. Because if the fate of the world is your goal, it almost has to come down to good vs. evil if you want choices. Save it or Destroy it? Have a smaller goal and your "morals" will be easier to make ambiguous.
I think Bioware took a step in the right direction with Dragon Age: Origins. Any developer wanting to make a game with deep moral decisions should follow DA:O's lead and get rid of the vulgar "morality meter". However for me, your decisions in DA:O are not as deep as they should be. No matter what course of action you take, the game ends with one of two possible endings (referring to either *SPOILER* Allistar's, Loghain's or the PC's death; or the secret ritual). Bioware could have invested in more possiblities for endings. Still, it's a step in the right direction. At least it's better than Fallout 3's crappy black and white "moral" system.
I found myself being immersed in the Witcher's universe. I took the time to weight all the good and the bad about my moral decisions in-game. I was proud of myself and thought : "Hey, the moral system is really deep but I think I figured out the best way to act in this game..." NOT ! To my surprise, I finished the game and I got one of the worst endings, they told me I acted egoïstically and blah blah... so I'm not sure if the system is really that deep or just flawed. The game was great ; but it left me bitter.
As far as im concerned morality is a proxy for a deeper understanding of actions and their consequences in the real world. Christian morality is not exactly a 'deep' system, and 'philosophizing' morality intellectualises it in a way that does not reflect its true nature either; most philosophical conceptions of ethics or morality start from a core 'ideal' (such as life is precious, survival of the species, you should not kill, divine actions etc) and shape choices and consequences in the world to fit or promote that ideal; but morality involves choice about 'core values' as well; adopting a philosophical position piecemeal is a choice itself. Morality is none of these things. Morality is cause and effect with a view to an aim. When you direct your energies to one aim, it is an account of how others will percieve this act and direct their own energies; even how inanimate objects will react and influence others' choices. It IS mechanistic, only between the most complicated mechanisms of all, life. It is also a vague and implicit choice of what 'core values' to promote (judged by hindsight). Morality is nothing less than the choice of who you wish to be and what you feel is important in life. For a game to reflect this would be both difficult and possibly misleading; morality is grounded in life, not the faux morality of imagination. Books, movies and television can and do get it wrong
The Witcher is the game has has probably got it most right, followed by Fallout 1 and 2. Having said that, this is the sort of article that should be on gaming sites like Gamespot a lot more. I am as fed up with the shallowness of gaming sites as I am the games themselves! It's easy to see why every open-world, non-linear, morality system based, 100's of NPC's and 100's of square miles of world to explore are released with bugs and need a patch or three. For this reason, I wish RPG's like the above were not marked down just like shooters for having bugs, and I wish gamers would give RPG's a break too! I would rather have a buggy deep RPG that needs patches, than just have easy to program corridor shooters as the only choice!
The best morality system I experienced without black and white choices was the one of Dragon Age. An exemple out of the many, many you'll encouter that stuck with me. Was when you encouter a woman asking you to kill her to end her suffering (won't spoil too much on the situation and the "why"). Do you kill an innocent to easy her/his pain? Do you choose out of a self righteous decision that goes against her own wishes to let her live to try and find another way? Or simply not do anything and let it die of her own pain?
ye indeed, assuming you'd be given choices inbetween black and white u'd need a more complex system to back them up i don't agree with the opinion that morality is silly though, that is just superficial probably from the usual observation that the person that seems to abide it is usually the one that gets to lose something, it may as well be one of the strongest binds to society, had it been an existing trait in everybody, we wouldn't need a boogieman over us they'll never be able to simulate this in a game, at some point u wouldn't be able to scale the choices, add an extreme amount of background detail to everything plus they'd have to include their personal opinion which could cause reactions from people
Morality is silly enough a concept to me in real life, but it's fun to try to emulate real-life choices in a virtual world, if only to see yourself in a different life (that is, as an antisocial bastard who takes advantage of every opportunity for loot or sex scenes). This writer seems to be discussing morality in video games under the assumption that there could possibly be a virtual world that emulates the complex moral decisions we face day-to-day. Though I doubt it's possible within the next decade if ever, the concept of guilt and empathy for an NPC on the same level of a human feeling for another human is very interesting to me. This discussion, as silly as it may seems, sheds light on some serious possibilities within the somewhat distant future of video "games."
dnrta. It's a simple answer - the less choices the player has, the less a developer has to account for when it comes to building the game. If there's only 1 choice, they need only program 1 outcome, saving time and resources. While we'd all agree this is not preferable, it certainly was very practical as little as a decade ago. Thankfully technology, skill and resources have all come a long way since.
I actually like games where you can play as good or evil. For me it means at least 2 playthroughs from a different perspective. But I love Fallout 3 so much I'm thinking about playing it again just for the hell of it. Same with InFamous...
I usually play in a place between good and evil because I love it and I can see different aspects of the plot an in-game features, but in most of games I'm pushed to chose a side in the conflict. It's important to know that we as humans are chaotic, sometimes we like sweet but sometimes is better bitter. I hate that points in a game when the player is push to take a side no matter what morality is considered, Why no a third faction that suddenly appears and smash all the storyline?, Fallout is a good example of this sometimes. The most important thing is, please developers and writers, try to do that important points of flexion in the plot softer, that the player only knows according to his/her own morality and the choice is not based on get some feature (item, exp, etc) of the game. I think that details matter and it's not needed some kind of morality interface, the plot and in-world consequences are enough.
"Lothos_Delion Posted Dec 1, 2009 2:28 pm PT I mean I think its good for the story but beyond that games are just that games. Not to be taken seriously or considered to be anything more than they are." At the risk of sounding crazy: not all games are just games. There are serval I like to think of as electronic art. They are intricate designs with epic stories, grand musical compositions, and many moral questions that are meant to make you think. Video games are a modern medium. Like many genre books, a lot of them are purely for entertainment, but you can do more. Many games are developed for at least 3+ years before they're put out on the market. Thousands of dollars and hundreds of people spend those years trying to make that singular game the best it can be. I'm not saying there are several LOTR or Dune out there in the gaming world, but I'd hardly say all games are simply entertainments that shouldn't be given any serious thought.
I usually try to make good choices in a game. However, I recently picked up mass effect on the the pc. I played like a heartless brute. Man I couldn't stop laughing. I have not had that much fun in a long time. I think I will continue to go the direct opposite of my values. It a lot more fun.
Good point @FlashHawk79. I'm going to sound like a sickening fanboy, but I remember in the opening Liberty Island level in Deus Ex, when you get to the NSF leader you have a choice of interrogating him or just shooting his proud head off. I had run through either choice multiple times and the reaction from Paul (your brother) was predictable in each case ('Good job' vs 'Too much force!' - or something like that). However, there was this one time when I accidentally shot the guy in the MIDDLE of an interrogation. So I walk back to Paul, start up the conversation, and I'm waiting for him to say "Too much force"....and he goes "You're an A*****!!!" That was SO completely unexpected and awesome :D, I revisited practically all the dialogues and situations to see if there were any other such things I missed. I did find a few gems, but the great thing about this was these events weren't the result of an either-or choice like "What if I did or did not do this?", but also "What if I did THIS first, and THEN the other thing?" and in some cases even "What if I did it like this?" That the developers had actually thought out all these possibilities was just absolutely incredible, but I don't know if this kind of depth can be approached today, given the quality we expect from AAA titles, the associated costs and the almost-double marketing costs after that. Although I sure hope someone CAN figure it out!
?In Fallout 3 it?s pretty damn clear that by the end of the game, your decisions have had some serious repercussions on the world. This all sort of culminates in the game?s climax, where you hold the fate of the Capital Wasteland?s people in your hands. Do you poison the water, or leave it clean? Do you sacrifice yourself, or talk someone else into doing it? All of those things--which are all tied to the game?s morality--are pretty central to Fallout 3?s themes and gameplay." Are we talking about the same Fallout 3 I played here? None of the "big decisions" in this game had ANY repurcussions. Set off a NUCLEAR DEVICE IN THE MIDDLE OF A TOWN? No worries, just hand out water to bums and everybody in the world forgets it. And better yet, the shopkeeper and giver of the only major quest in the town miraculously survives! And that ending, forgetting for a moment that the Broken Steel DLC made a point of showing the player that their choice had no repurcussions (you survive no matter what, poisoning the water changes more or less nothing) the entirety of the choice came down to an incredibly non-ambiguous GOOD/EVIL dialogue choice. As for the indicator that helps the player know when they've done something bad (shouldn't they know by the fact that they're, you know, doing it?) one of the first mods was to get rid of that stupid thing because it's irritating lowest common denominator design--something that describes Fallout 3 perfectly
Oh... wow. I've never realized this was in the games while I played them. I guess the developers hid it pretty well, and still somehow taught us... very... subtly ... . ... well, for some games, it just won't work for the players to make their own choices. Take Kingdom Hearts for example. If you make the gamers decide, then the story would start to get ruined. The developers made the story like it is... and it's the type of story that just won't be the same if it was any different, because every detail counts for it.
Quite honestly, the best way to be "moral" in a game is to not make it obvious that this is [GOOD] and this one is [EVIL], obviously, but two should be to not make it obvious that we're making a major choice at the time. Obviously pressing "The Button" is a clear choice, but some things should be less obvious. Here's an example: To anyone who has played the Broken Steel expansion of Fallout 3 and witnessed the confrontation at Megaton between the settlers and the Brotherhood of Steel water caravan, THAT is a good situation for a morality check. I recognized that it was about to hit the fan, got to cover, and sure enough, a shot rang out. I literally thought, "who do I shoot at?" I didn't really see who fired the first shot, and in the end I chose to fight alongside my Brothers. Perfect moral situation in the game. I think that right there is what should be used, not some shallow meter. Individual events should affect endings and stuff, and not some idealistic "points" system. Each action should have its own consequences. In Fallout 3, for example, you know those bounty hunters that get sent out to get you if you're really good or really evil? You should have a choice of how to react. Either try to bribe them, or maybe try to reason with them, or anything else for that matter. Then, if you do wind up shooting him in cold blood, there should be some kind of game-changing, however so slight. That'll take up a good deal of AI, sure, but THAT's the way to do Fallout 4.
I only play as a good character in Fable 1 and 2, but in Oblivion I play as a xenophobic Imperial that kills off any nonhuman. While these two types of play are fun and I get to balance out my desires to be a paragon or a Devil, I would enjoy more opportunities to be neutral throughout most of the game. I'd like to see multiple outcomes for good and evil choices as well. Humanity is chaotic and games should reflect that with different conclusions/rewards/events for quests or actions rather than having a single event.
I mean I think its good for the story but beyond that games are just that games. Not to be taken seriously or considered to be anything more than they are.
I think if Bioware made a RPG played in first-person perspective, all of us would get even more immersed in the world and care for the world the devs created. Im sick of people that kill a child in a RPG saying "nah, its a game and the child is not real anyway, so whats the deal" :-/
really great article. touches base on alot of unexplained subjects that maybe alot of people like myself have wondered while either playing these games or questioned about ones judgement.
I like to be evil just because its a lot easier to kill then let live. But im really niec in real life that might be why who knows....lol
i enjoy being able to be a truly evil prick when i play a good rpg. more please, the repercussions in RL are quite distinct, with a game i get less backlash from the people in my real life, but i get the benefits of blowing up towns, planets, poisoning water supplies, helping dragon cults prosper and bringing down honest government. its just too hard to get away with all these wonderful and enriching things in reality. its especially gratifying when the game gives me feedback on my choice, characters cry, laugh and adjust accordingly.
@xxxx59 That was a great decision to have to make, and hope that it has a significant effect in Mass Effect 2... I chose to save the Council. I had to sit back and think though, about what consequences might possibly result from the choice. I figured, personally, that a life is a life, and that saving hundreds of human lives was way more important that saving just three, no matter whose. But then I started to extrapolate. What if, in the diagetic future, humanity as a whole was shunned by the Council's member races? What about the thirst for vengeance that the Turians, Salarians, whatever might have, because my Sheperd had chosen to sacrifice the entire bloody Council for a few humans? How would the other races, who are more than powerful enough to completely wipe the Alliance out (as well as other humans), look upon my decision? The reason why I consider that crucial decision to be the best in any game I've ever played (though I haven't played that many games with morality systems) is because it made me suppress my instinctual choice in favour of an intellectual one. In order to feel like I had done the choice justice, I examined the entire context of the in-game situation. Now that's a way in which morality helps to further immersion, which I believe to be one of its most worthwhile traits if pulled off right. Bad morality systems and decisions just tear you right out though... it's like you can picture the guy who scripted them. Just my 2 cents. ;)