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On the Moral Consequences of Gaming 170

Posted by Zonk
from the krogan-rights-forever-down-with-the-genophage dept.
N'Gai Croal and the LevelUp blog are collaborating with the popular UK games magazine Edge, and late last month we discussed the emotional impact of games. Or, more realistically, the lack thereof. This week N'Gai has been exploring what could be done to reinforce that emotional impact, and perhaps take those choices to a moral level. "What if developers attempted to bring social sanction into the experience? What if your Gamertag were designated 'Child Killer' for having murdered [Bioshock's] Little Sisters--or 'Good Samaritan' for having saved them? Microsoft recently announced its plans to add the Facebook and MySpace-inspired feature of allowing you to browse your friends' Friends Lists; what if everyone on your Friends List were notified each time you killed a Little Sister--or every time you rescued one--like the Status Updates on Facebook?"
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On the Moral Consequences of Gaming

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  • what if everyone on your Friends List were notified each time you killed a Little Sister--or every time you rescued one--like the Status Updates on Facebook?
    I'd be annoyed as hell? As if it weren't already bad enough...

    But seriously, we're not affected by games because we're focusing on our performance, not what's happening. Those who focus on games are affected by them; where's the problem?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cromar (1103585)
      I've seen this exact concept before in the old BBS door game Legend of the Red Dragon. It had a news feed like so:

      Malkor has slain GoatseKnight in his sleep!
      Malkor has slain Gorfried in his sleep!

      etc. It is very similar to the web-based reincarnation Legend of the Green Dragon [lotgd.net] .
      • by rucs_hack (784150)
        The news feed you speak of existed entirely within the domain of the game world though. It described your activities in an acceptable way, because you wanted people to know those things, it was, as it were, part of the experience, and a cool one at that.

        I don't have a problem with any site or game that advertises my activities on that site or in that game to others. I'd prefer a 'keep this secret' option. Don't want my neighbor to know I'm stockpiling weapons to launch an attack now, do I.
        • I wouldn't mind something that showed up in my profile, kinda like a reverse "achievements" system..."Oh I see satanicpuppy got the 'Little Sista Slaughta' achievement for killing 50 little sisters."

          No big deal.
      • StarvingSE has successfully flirted with Violet...

        Gotta love nerdy teenage hormones. We didn't even need 3d graphics with physics-enabled "jiggly" sections back then.
      • by mstahl (701501)

        Malkor has slain GoatseKnight in his sleep!

        I just had the worst mental picture: the goatse guy riding horseback into battle. The Goatse Knight rides again!!!

    • Anyone who has played with average gamers today knows that having tags like "Child Killer" attached to their names would be seen as "awesome", not a deterrent. I'm sure this would inspire a race to collect as many "bad-ass" tags as possible rather than prevent immoral behavior. It's only when your choices actually affect gameplay that morality will be considered.
      • by Rei (128717)
        Some friends and I have been idly discussing the possibility of developing [daughtersoftiresias.org] Yet Another MMORPG(TM) based on the concept of combining the concepts of a "restricted" world where what you do makes a difference for your character (like most hack-and-slash MMORPGs) with a creation-based MMOG like Second Life that lets you create instant worlds at the drop of a hat. This would be the concept that you build your world from your surroundings and what you choose to do with it is left to free will (living in peace an
    • Re:what if indeed? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 7Prime (871679) on Friday November 30, 2007 @10:37PM (#21540771) Homepage Journal
      I disagree. Just like with books, movies, and other narratives, I have an emotional connection to the world I'm in. Therefor, I have an incredibly hard time making decisions, in games, that I wouldn't do in real life. When I played Bioshock, I couldn't bring myself to kill the little sisters, because it just felt wrong to me. In Mass Effect, I tend toward the Paragon or the middle of the road answers. Even if I wanted to play an asshole, I'd feel incredibly bad about doing that, because it would feel unrealistic to who I am. I guess, I don't like assholes, and I don't like heros to be assholes, and what we play, in games, are heros... all NPCs tend to admire them, or fear them (if the NPCs are evil), I don't want anyone admiring a complete prick, partially because I hate to see that happen in real life.

      So yes, I completely disagree that we're focusing on our performance. It's like saying that people don't pay attention to the plot of a story because they're more concerned in how many pages they're reading, per minute.
  • by Nos. (179609) <andrew@@@thekerrs...ca> on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:42PM (#21535857) Homepage
    Valve's orange box gave us 'Achievements', which are viewable online. I know they're included with Portal, TF2, Ep2, and probably others. Given the framework in place, I'm sure valve could extend it to include more 'moral' type results. The only thing is, I'm gussing a significant number of players would seek to get these, as at least in certain gaming communities, they'll be considered badges of honour more so than a judgement of the moral of the player.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hansamurai (907719)
      Speaking of Valve, they just released a ton of player stats on Episode 2, pointing out how long people played, where they died, etc. This was all in very broad terms, but imagine if they did something similar to moral decisions. Say in Episode 3 you have the choice to save Alyx but something else really bad happens to a lot more people, or you save the world but Alyx has to die. Now Valve would keep track of whether or not you saved Alyx the first time through, and then release the stats to everyone. I
      • I agree. Beyond agreeing, I think it would be cool, and useful as well. Might help you match up with people online outside of your immediate social circle by the fact that they tend to have similar achievements.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pthor1231 (885423)
      Valve didn't give you that. They built it in on the non 360 version of the game because all 360 games have gamerscore, which was probably an idea taken from somewhere else, and I'm sure PC/PS3 players would be kind of annoyed if the 360 version had this and theirs didn't. And yes, there are tons of website dedicated to getting more gamerscore, see http://x360a.org/ [x360a.org]
      • by Gulthek (12570)
        Exactly. Commenting to undo incorrect comment mod, Thanks new /. moderation system!
    • by dabraun (626287)

      Valve's orange box gave us 'Achievements', which are viewable online.

      Every 360 game has achievements. Some of them keep the achievements in their PC versions, some don't. A few actually use the PC version of live and attach the achievements to your gamertag like the xbox versions do. (not sure whether orange box does this or not)

      1000pts for a retail game

      200pts for an arcade game (also applied to the half-way house burger king games)

      250pts extra for a major downloadable upgrade (oblivion, gears, crackdown

    • But you can't really draw a real conclusion from this information. Some of us intentionally play against our normal instincts. I'm running my first playthrough of Mass Effect, and I'm pushing renegade specifically because it is different from how I would handle these situations. (And I still ended up with some paragon points, dangit) Role-playing is pretty boring when you RP yourself.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Valve's orange box gave us 'Achievements', which are viewable online.

      "Us" being the set of people who have never, ever touched or even read about an Xbox 360? Achievements have been around awhile, buddy.
  • No, silly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Debello (1030486) on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:42PM (#21535859)
    It's a video game. Your actions don't have ANY important reaction because IT'S NOT REAL. That makes those tags WORTHLESS. Maybe if you were an actual child killer it would matter, but since no one is hurt or helped in the process of slaying a little ghost girl, the title loses all possible moral meaning.
    • by cromar (1103585)
      It would be pretty cool if they DID have meanings. Combine that with an alignment stat... oh wait. That's Fable with tags.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)
      But what if one of the tags was Team Killer?
    • Why is it that video games are the only media being scrutinized at this level on morality issues? Are people who've seen Silence of the Lambs stamped "Cannibal" after leaving the theatre (or returning the DVD)? I've read Oedipus Rex. Does that mean I'm a motherf****r?
      • whats wrong with being a bad mother -

        SHUT YO MOUTH

        - but I was talking about Terminator, he's the man!
      • by Lynxara (775657)

        It's because nothing happens in a video game with a traditional narrative until the player picks up the controller and chooses to do something within the confines of the game. This makes it a participatory medium totally unlike traditional cinema or prose.

        • I'm not sure I agree. When I'm reading a book that I really like, I'm completely engrossed. The events described in print are essentially going on in my head. Its certainly more participatory than TV and movies where the story and imagery are being provided. Yes, games are interactive, but they're simply engaging different parts of your mind than books. Art and media are always participatory in some way. Are people who go to a nude photography exhibit later tracked by police as potential sex offenders
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by justkarl (775856)
      It's a video game. Your actions don't have ANY important reaction because IT'S NOT REAL. That makes those tags WORTHLESS.
       
      Ding ding ding! We have a winner!
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      It doesn't have any meaning until the FBI investigates some freakjob psycho and finds out that "not only did he kill people and torture small animals... he's listed as a child killer in XBOX live! Quick, do a search on child killers in XBOX live!" Then let the Media storm take control.

      I'm only partly being tinfoilish though. I think that this would eventually happen, _and_ I think the quick search would be well reasoned, especially if it turns out to find someone who's score is morally reprehensible,
    • by 7Prime (871679)
      But it DOES mean something, in the context of the game. If you're the kind of person that likes to always kill the little girl, or be the hero to rule with an iron fist, what does that say about you're gameplay style? It could say one of a number of different things:

      1) That you really are a horrible person who's just doing what comes naturally
      2) That you are subconciously intrigued with blood-thirsty power
      3) That you're playing the game through a second time, and want to see what happens if you're a horribl
    • by Corbets (169101)
      Maybe if you were an actual child killer it would matter

      Uh....maybe?
    • Do any of the tags mean anything? After all none of them are real.
  • I would not play (Score:5, Insightful)

    by topham (32406) on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:42PM (#21535873) Homepage
    If I thought I was being judged on moral grounds when I played a game I wouldn't play. There would be no point.

    I believe I am ethical and moral in my real life, why the fuck would I want to be that way when playing a game? Isn't the point of a game to do things you would not ordinarily do.

    And yeah, I killed some of the Little Sisters; after fighting a Big Daddy and getting my ass handed to me on a silver platter over and over again I figured they deserved it.

    • by Lynxara (775657)

      The point of a game is to have fun, and this can be achieved without including any recognizable human-like characters or action/danger elements in a title at all.

  • Roleplaying (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:43PM (#21535885) Homepage Journal
    See, there's this thing called roleplaying.

    It's when I pretend to be something I'm not by using my imagination.

    I enjoy being creative, it adds to my enjoyment of the game.

    They create fantasy worlds for us to play in, so we live fantasy lives when we play.

    You can not judge someone for fantasy crimes.

    I am not affected by these fantasies, except perhaps earning more understanding for the types of people who act that way.

    This is important because I will come across many types real people over my lifetime, and my ability to deal with them hinges on my understanding them.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2007 @03:19PM (#21536463)
      I like to role play in bed. Usually I just imagine there's a girl next to me.
    • by stjobe (78285)

      You can not judge someone for fantasy crimes.
      Oh, but we can, and quite often we do, as individuals.
      You're correct that the state cannot judge someone for fantasy crimes even though I'm sure plenty of those in power would like that very much. "Thoughtcrime is the only crime that matters", to paraphrase Winston Smith.
  • by quanticle (843097) on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:48PM (#21535963) Homepage

    The entire point of all games (not just video games) is that they allow you to pretend to do things without the moral sanctions that normally apply. To pick an antiquated example, would you like being labeled "potential thief" if you happened to play on the robbers' side in a game of Cops and Robbers? To put it more succinctly: if there are consequences outside the game, then its not a game. Its reality.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nomadic (141991)
      The entire point of all games (not just video games) is that they allow you to pretend to do things without the moral sanctions that normally apply.

      There are several different reasons to play games, and I don't think escaping moral sanctions is the "entire point". I play games because I enjoy a challenge; whether intellectually, in the case of adventure or RPG games, or physically, in terms of racing or FPSes. And when I'm playing a game I generally play the good guy; I get a little squeamish about mur
      • by nelsonal (549144)
        I usually play RPGs once doing what I think is best (mostly but not always the alignment:good) thing, then I do bad stuff, which is fun sometimes, but can really take effort near the end (Example from KOTOR, it's easy to steal the hunter widow's plate because I didin't have any interaction with the character, but when you announce your "conversion to the group" the fallout bothered me for a while (and I knew it was coming so I put it off for weeks).
  • by PJ1216 (1063738) * on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:51PM (#21535999)
    yes, its true, some people will go to the 'dark side' in various games because they like that aspect. though, sometimes, its a completely utilitarian view. sometimes the abilities afforded the player vary depending on how 'good' or 'bad' they are. sometimes a player might like playing a certain way and the abilities afforded to the bad side just play to his/her strengths better. some people look at it as a moral choice, others look at it as a challenge, some look at it as total game completion (yea, i finished the game saving the little sisters, now i gotta play it and not save them), or in the same idea, just changing the game so its less boring (i saved 'em all last time, i want the game to be different, so i'll kill them every now and then when it suits me).

    Honestly, if they do it, instead of giving negative names to bad choices and positive names to good choices, it should just be names biased to that side. like on the good side, you'd have titles like protector, savior, etc. and on the bad side you'd have names that people wouldn't mind having or that are 'cool' like dark lord or some ish.

    The reason we can choose in games is so we can get a more interesting experience, not so we can be embarrassed by it.
    • I usually play through games that have "good" and "bad" alignment possibilities twice: the first time, I almost always play as good, because I get engrossed in the story and the characters and genuinely have trouble doing the bad things in the game world. The second time, the game and its characters seem less "real" to me and it's easier to play a bad guy; that is, it's easier to see the game as a game and play to reach goals (e.g. see that cutscene or take that quest that I missed because I was a good guy
      • Er, "It became clear part way through my first playthrough invincible." should be:

        It became clear part way through my first playthrough that she was invincible.
  • by faloi (738831) on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:57PM (#21536063)
    I'm not as concerned about the moral ramifications of how my character conducts themselves in a game. Certainly there are games where you get tags for your accomplishments, like gnoll-slayer or some such. That can give other players some indication of what you're doing.

    What I'd like to see are some relevant tags, like team-killer. I don't care how you play the game in a single player mode, it's up to you. But in multi-player games, it would be nice to know what behavior we're likely to see.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      What I'd like to see are some relevant tags, like team-killer. I don't care how you play the game in a single player mode, it's up to you. But in multi-player games, it would be nice to know what behavior we're likely to see.

      Yes, but who hasn't accidentally killed a team member in a game? Or just ganged up on a griefer that joined your team? Should one mistake brand your gamer tag as a Team Killer forever? ("That's not a target; that's Church!")

      And it makes griefing worse: they could deliberately jump into your line of fire so as to ruin the reputation of your gamer tag. Should they be able to force you to give up a prepaid year of service to dissociate yourself from that tag and get another to restore your ability to play

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by faloi (738831)
        Typically, you have to do something repeatedly to "earn" a tag. Killing a teammate once isn't likely to earn you that rank. Killing a teammate (or teammates) dozens of times might. For that matter, there could be a "target" tag. If you have a special aptitude for running in front of your team mates, you become a "target." If you shoot someone with a reputation as a target it, it doesn't really impact your TK reputation. Make them decay over time... Some people may dance at the threshold of getting th
        • by gad_zuki! (70830)
          >Make it so only punished TK's count in the grand scheme of thing.

          Every play bf2? Everyone punishes, all the time. Gamers in the thick of action are emotional and near crazy, not logical and willing to help the community. Not to mention the teen demographic that defines online gaming arent known for their maturity and excellent social skills. Id rather just have this all controlled by code. 5 teamkills in 5 minutes? Yeah thats a 5+ day ban.

          Rep systems are interesting, but i think in the end people ju
    • Despite some pretty abysmal/buggy online performance last time I played (after 3-4 weeks ago), the rating system for C&C3 was pretty cool. It allowed you to rate opponents skill, sportsmanship (teamkilling I assume would be low) etc. I never really tested to see if you could filter out those who were jerks, but it would be a useful feature. EA had some good ideas there... now if they could only make the thing playable.
  • by quanticle (843097) on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:57PM (#21536075) Homepage
    If the action taken in-game will have possible negative consequences outside the game, then why would you even allow the action? To use the example from the summary, you're allowed to kill the "Little Sisters" in Bioshock for a reason. If the game developer wants to make a moral point, I'd prefer that he or she used the in-game mechanic, rather than obscure mechanisms from outside the game. To go back to the example, if I'm not supposed to kill the "Little Sisters", then tell me that as part of the mission objectives, and/or force me to restart if do happen to kill one of them. Don't do this obscure we'll-allow-the-action-but-brand-you-in-real-life crap.
    • Because everything should be allowed in the game world - the only penalties and rewards we need are those in the game itself. I tried to play one of the Splinter Cell games once - it was unspeakable. I'm trying to stop a madman from detonating some unholy terror weapon and killing hundreds of thousands, and my controller calls a halt to the mission because I accidentally shot a civilian. Yeah, sorry and all, didn't mean to, but let's have a little perspective here. Let me finish the mission - give me th
  • What do I gain? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by east coast (590680) on Friday November 30, 2007 @02:59PM (#21536103)
    Every one of these "video games as a moral measure" articles always mentions the downside. What if I do good?

    Sure, you can label me as a hostage killer in CounterStrike for my occasional screw up in a firefight but does that mean I qualify for the G.I. Bill due to my fine combat record in Call of Duty 4?

    And more-so, if I had friends that got bent out of shape because I don't lose sleep over the hostages I accidentally fragged I probably wouldn't want them around me anyway.
  • I don't play gamoes to have a socially-dictated morality imposed on me. Games are a sandbox for me, to let the most fucked-up aspects of yourself take over without hurting anyone in real life. Exploring ethical boundaries is a necessary process in our self-development. I see nothing wrong with it provided it does not deter from real life. I contend it's been benefitial to everyone I know who's ever gamed.
    • by Avatar8 (748465)
      I disagree with you.

      For years I thought the way you do: "Better they are performing these fantasy killings in virtual worlds than in real life." I've seen plenty of examples to counter this.

      I think instead of providing a carthatic environment where all of these negative actions and emotions are expelled, performing such actions reinforce negative behavior. To your brain you're processing the same information; good choice, bad choice - it's the same chemicals and electrical impulses whether it's real or v

    • If you think catharsis is being a prick and irritating the poor strangers unfortunate enough to end up in the same game as you, then Das Modell is right... you're fucked up in the head.
  • by moore.dustin (942289) on Friday November 30, 2007 @03:02PM (#21536143) Homepage
    For many, games are an escape from the grind of life. The last thing I want in my games are things that tie back and bring me back to the reality of life. The reason why I picked up that game was to be immersed in the games fictional world, not to have the game world reflect society.

    You play to be different a different person through your character, in a different situations, with different rules/consequences. Why would I want to play a game that related my in game decisions to what society thinks is right or wrong? That is not a game, that is life. A game, to me, is an escape from life. Are they mutually exclusive, games and 'life'? Probably not, but that does not mean they shouldn't be.
  • The idea of social sanction to enforce moral behavior in games is not a bad idea... if the group we're talking about has any degree of social sophistication. But it's been my experience that gamers, especially the ones who care enough to be actively involved in gaming communities, lack many of the basic necessities of good socialization, such as how to properly express moral disapproval (or even what is and what is not moral, apart from some basic sense of egoism).
    • by Zeromous (668365)
      As a gamer, and fellow /. 6-digiter, I find your opinion incredibly insulting to my intelligence and morality as a person and a serious gamer. Social organization occurs in games specifically to combat the type of bad socialization you speak of. In fact, in these types of sophisticated gaming-societies, there is no need for moral behavior enforcement. That said, obviously it is a bad idea, as long as people like you judge morality on the basis of the lowest common denominator. I also suggest you stop us
  • Ironically, if you tried to enforce moral consequences like this in real life, for real-life, proven atrocities (say, having 'child molester' tattoo'd on the forehead of someone convicted of child rape) the ALCU would sue you senseless.

    Why should our virtual lives have consequences, when we don't have them in the real world?
    • What, kind of like registered sex offenders having to announce themselves when they move into a neighborhood?
  • Games desensitize. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Friday November 30, 2007 @03:27PM (#21536565) Homepage Journal
    Defcon being a prime example.

    The first time I played it, a pirated version shortly after the release, I was genuinely touched. When my first nukes fell on Warsaw and Wienna, I was quite shaken. My friends live there. The music, the crying woman in the background, this all added to the game experience immensely. My conscience at work was quite strong. "Yeah, that's just a game", I'd rationalize, but I still felt for the virtual humanity.

    Yesterday I got the original Defcon and played it for the first time in a long time again. I launched a mass attack. Tokyo, Cairo, New York, Mexico, London. And when they broke through the defences, I'd go like "Wow! Yeah!", I enjoyed the huge score and didn't feel the least bit sorry. I knew the counter-strike would wipe my country entirely, but cool calculation was "I have 100 mln people at -1 per million, I can lose at most 100 points. There's +2 for each million of enemy people I kill, so if I get to strike the biggest cities first, I'll reap enough points no loss at a later time will outweight. Screw all the defense, attack all big cities ASAP, hard." I won with over 300 points with the next best player getting just above 100 points. Considering the losses this translates to gameplay murder of about 400 millions people in the game. Yeah, the game was fun.
    • OK, so you were desensitised to the violence in the game. Would you say you were desensitised to the idea of actually dropping nukes on actual cities in real life?

  • Most of the comments are negative, but I detect a patern, ALL of the NEGATIVE comments seem to be from people who don't want to get the label child-killer attached to them.

    Nobody from the child-saver group of players seems to NOT want this label.

    Just an intresting obeservation I think. Make of it what you will.

  • by Lord Aurora (969557) on Friday November 30, 2007 @03:42PM (#21536799)
    ...not so that my friends or I can find out something deep and personal about myself. The moment a game has too many ties to the real world is the moment it ceases to become a game and it becomes a nuisance. Video games were created for entertainment. If I'm marginally entertained by calmly slaughtering the entire city of Skingrad when I'm playing Oblivion, that's my business, and reflects nothing about my real life. And I hope I saved the game before I did it.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Actual, how you behave in ANY environment is a reflection on you;however this isn't a direct link between a specific action.

      Many armchair Headologist would say that because you specifically mention saving the game, then ultimately you are not a mass murder. What they won't take into account is the perhaps you're saving it so you can kill those same characters again?

  • by Cathoderoytube (1088737) on Friday November 30, 2007 @03:45PM (#21536849)
    When I was just a baby my mama told me 'son always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns'
    But I shot a man in Bioshock just to watch him die. When I hear that whistle blowin' I hang my head and cry.
    • by Altus (1034)

      3 days with mod points and nothing good to mod. As soon as they expire I find this.

  • by ZombieRoboNinja (905329) on Friday November 30, 2007 @03:52PM (#21536955)
    Why do these two have to ruin fun gaming experiences by bloviating about them for pages and pages like they're Citizen Kane in interactive form?

    Calling your Gamertag "Child Killer" for killing Little Sisters would be annoying and sensationalist. These guys are supposed to be a link between video games and the mainstream media, and they don't get that having a bunch of 13-year-olds bragging about their shiny new "Child Killer" tag would be bad PR? (No, those 13-year-olds SHOULDN'T be playing M-rated games, but as anyone who's ever used Xbox Live can tell you, they do anyway.)

    Anyway, let's see if I can one-up them on the blowhard meter: if we are to take seriously Kant's Third Critique, we would have to accept that aesthetic appreciation is only possible when the object of appreciation is of no immediate practical interest to us (but rather a "disinterested interest"). If we start salivating when looking at a picture of fruit, that's not "artistic" or "aesthetic" appreciation. If we look at pictures of naked women for sexual pleasure, that's not "aesthetic" appreciation. By the same token, if we're worried about our actions in a video game because we think they'll affect our real life in some way, like making us online social pariahs because of our Gamertags, that's not an aesthetic concern either. Introducing pragmatic interests to games makes them closer to porno than to DaVinci.
  • First time a game has gotten to me this strongly...Getting off the Normandy at the Citadel, a reporter stopped me and asked if she could interview me. I said yes. In the interview, I pointed out that Saren had something to do with the attack on Eden Prime. The instant Shephard said this, the potential consequences of my action began to sink in...what will the council think of this? Am I the cause of some media leak now? Will things on the Citadel start getting out of hand as the people realize that not
  • One game I hold singlehandedly responsible for my eating disorder: Gauntlet. It just HAS to go and announce to the whole arcade, "Red Wizard needs food, badly"

    Shut up! Shut up! Don't shoot my turkey! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

    (bastards)

  • Reading the article and those linked within it, I could not help but think of Ultima IV and some sequels. It was all about the correct moral choices, but it was too binary to provide a sophisticated model as could be done today. Still it reinforced that performing good actions, being honorable, etc. would progress the game and allow you to win. Performing negative actions would bring your "social standing" back to zero and force you to start completely over.

    In Ultima VII a friend of mine loaded my save ga

  • What if... (Score:3, Funny)

    by GigG (887839) on Friday November 30, 2007 @04:18PM (#21537283)
    "...what if everyone on your Friends List were notified each time you killed a Little Sister--or every time you rescued one--like the Status Updates on Facebook? "

    There would be a surge in Little Sister kills.
  • The Real Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capitalist1 (127579) on Friday November 30, 2007 @04:48PM (#21537629)
    The single most important problem with games that try to include consequences for "moral decisions" is that virtually no one knows that there can be more than one idea of what constitutes morality. Most people in the U.S. who talk about morality take it as given that the Judeo-Christian ethos *is* morality. Not just one option, not just a view, it is the entirety of the subject. People take as given that self-sacrifice is good, self-interest is bad, "spirituality" is superior to "materialism", etc.

    That is why these morality games will and must fail. There are no real moral issues explored, only a scorecard of how well you've conformed to the designer's idea of what morality is.

    Games might very well become more immersive and emotionally involving. They will *not* become real-world moral laboratories. If the player's view of morality differs in any way from the designer's then that disconnect will destroy the entire illusion.

    • by vga_init (589198)

      People take as given that self-sacrifice is good, self-interest is bad, "spirituality" is superior to "materialism", etc.

      Most of us learn these truths as children--not because an authority figure told us, but we figured these things out on our own by interacting with our environment. Naturally, society sanctions what is good for society, and if we don't support what is good for society, society fails. We depend on society, so when society fails, we fail and die.

  • This sort of thing seems to me yet another effort to force games to be more culturally relevant than they currently are. Gaming will become an important part of society of its own accord. I don't think people sat around trying to figure out how to shoehorn philosophy into a book or a movie. An writer simply had a story to tell and chose a particular medium to convey it.

    Ultimately any form of entertainment is escapism in one way or another. I suppose gaming will enable interaction like we haven't seen before
  • What's so different about gaming? Gaming is always being pointed at while television, film, novels, comics, music, art all deal with exactly the same issues -- often more intensely and graphically. Why must gaming defend itself?

    Gaming mimics culture and other forms of media & entertainment.

    If you have a problem with gaming you have a problem with the world.

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