Video games allow you to steal stuff all the time from other characters. In fact, games make it pretty easy to get away with theft. And yet…we recognize that theft is morally wrong. So what can we take away from all the stealing we do when we play games?
If a character in a game was evil, but then joins the good guys, when do you forgive them? This question may seem difficult, but it’s a question that is rarely – if ever – posed through a game’s narrative. But by stepping back and thinking more carefully about what it means to “forgive” we can see how these narratives ignore the problem and how we might better incorporate these questions into video games.
Making good moral choices in video games is complex, and it’s easy to fall back on the simplistic. But when we rely on simple ideas, we lose the power that makes moral choices worth presenting in video games.
When we make moral choices, we often fall back on a set of rules that are easy to remember and stick to. But it can be useful to take a closer look at those rules that we use. In this essay, I’ll look into the moral framework of deontology (i.e. “morality based on rules”), and examine how we might use deontological concepts to create richer moral choices and themes in video games.
When we talk about morality in art, we often want to teach lessons to the person viewing that art. Video games are no different in trying to teach lessons. But how we teach lessons – especially moral lessons – is important, and much tougher than we may think.
Video games with moral choice systems often like to judge the player for their choices. But these judgments are likely undermining the very purpose of having moral choice systems. So what are the pitfalls of implementing judgments, and how might those pitfalls be avoided?
Morality in video games often looks at good and evil, but tends to miss the interesting conflicts that take place between those two extremes. How might games be better able to portray a sense of moral greyness that is interesting and reflects how morality actually works?
Words: 5708 Approximate Reading Time: 35-45 minutes My own area of expertise lies in moral/ethical philosophy. Broadly speaking, this is the study of how people ought to behave or act, sometimes in particular situations, sometimes in terms of the habits or dispositions they cultivate, sometimes as general rules. It’s a complex topic, as most topicsContinue reading “Moral Choice Systems”