Video Games and Moral Choices

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Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby HanClinto » Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:21 pm

Saw this video posted on another forum, and wanted to share it with y'all:

Video Games and Moral Choices

Well worth the watch IMO, and I'm interested in knowing what you all think of his ideas.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby brownboot » Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:33 pm

This is one of the better video's from these guys and I think they point out a lot of the key failings in morality systems in games.

I think a lot of the reason the sort of linear good/evil scale exists is a carryover from the early Richard Garriot Ultima Games.

I can also see making the arguement that defining good and evil helps build a secondary objective that will move a player forward. Does this actually remove the introspection from moral choice? Ya probably, because the player is constantly being reminded that he is GOOD or EVIL based on his place on the slider instead of simply being and making a choice based on his own feeling towards a situation.

The issue gets fuzzy though because we don't play ourselves in a game (necessarily). Even in a RPG we're playing a role, we are not directly interacting with the world we're presented. And there's something sort of cathartic about being a dark lord of the sith. Games are an escape so it is wrong to consider this sort of "evil" as being "bad."

All that said can you create an interesting moral discussion? Definitley. Are there many good examples? Not at all, lol. If you haven't played Braid get with the program and check it out. It presents a mesmerizing discussion of desire, wonder, obsession, destruction and loss.

If we consider the classic visual storytelling media, film and theatre, they do a much better job at confronting us with moral issues. This works because we can only react within our own space we are not expected to participate or impact the world beyond our internal discussions. I think Braid succeeds because while we've been mastering its gameplay it has been getting us into the mindset and thought pattern its story is working in so that by the time of its big reveal we're setup for it. It also doesn't give us a choice, it just connects the seemingly disparate dots you've encountered along the way. As a result it asks "What do you think about this?" as opposed to "What are you going to do about this?" which is sort of implied because we can't unknow it and have to consider it apart of our being moving forward.

Visually I think we are starting to find our feet when it comes to game presentation and how it relates to storytelling. Kane and Lynch 2 has a pretty compelling look that suits its style and content and is a bit of a departure from the traditional style/art direction choices made by game developers. Which excites me.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby Lava » Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:00 pm

Mount&Blade applies some of the things the video mentions. Particularly the "faction relation", rather than a good vs. evil meter. In M&B, the different factions will react to you differently-- if you side with the Swadians when they are at war, you might upset the Vaegirs. You can also raid caravans or attack villages-- something which could be considered "evil" in most games, but instead the penalty is triggering a response from the caravan's clan (or in a village's case, that particular lord of the village). It isn't so pretty if you've really ticked them off and you happen run into about 100 dudes from their army, haha.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby brownboot » Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:10 pm

I LOVE M&B!

OT: Warbands is really fun, if you haven't upgraded you should, its vastly improved.

You bring up some great points about faction relations which I hadn't remembered at all. Your adventuring companions also have likes and dislikes related to those sorts of actions (Jeremus hates attacking peasants, Bunduk hates abandoning soldiers, etc) which impacts there individual morale and may cause them to leave your service.

I'm not sure the game succeeds at giving you meaningful morale dilemma but the interactions it forces with the various civilizations in the game feels pretty natural.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby brownboot » Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:25 pm

Here's the new video from the Extra Credit team over at the Escapist that follows up on their Moral Choice video to some extent.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/ ... hing-Lives

I'm continually underwhelmed by these guys. Last week was pretty good and it almost restored my faith but this was pretty bad.

Maybe bad is the wrong word. It's not bad, its uninspired. They're disturbedly optimistic about the future of gaming (don't get wrong, its why I'm in the business) but the statements they make are so obvious and shallow they aren't furthering the discussion in the least.

Our Lead Designer at Kiz keeps telling me to treat it as entertainment and I'll get over it :P.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby launcher » Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:51 pm

they made sense to me in the video.

many RPG's have the same storyline, of my "insert some person" died, i must avenge there death. well that or the im a retired super solidier needed to save the world/galaxy/universe from absolute evil.

the system of do something moderately good and receive a super weapon or some benefit isnt really good, just a way to get free stuff.

take dungeons and dragons games you can level up come back to a town save your progress, kill everyone (in an allied town) export your characters. hit load the saved game point, import the characters and it acts as if nothing happened. but you cant play bad in the game because you wont get your quests anymore good example of forcing you to be good.

they did miss 1 key point though... the system of being good or bad needs to fit within the game. there system dictates how the game is made and played, being the main priority after the genre of the game.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby Mene-Mene » Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:21 pm

There is now a significant amount of games that do include ways that you can benefit by either being good or bad. Heh, even in racing games you see it. Systems which solely reward being good are sort of old news.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby Flatlander » Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:20 pm

Oh gosh, I didn't see this one. There was another thread of the same subject and the same video. I posted a response there. I wish people would learn to search before they start a new thread. I'm not whining because I've done that before and posted a thread that already was started by another.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby heartoffire » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:43 pm

There's a spiritual dimension of this issue that's not being explored. As Christians, we should be repulsed by games that allow us to do evil. Even if some such games "penalize" us for bad behavior. These games still have ways for us to cheat the justice system, such as paying off our bounties to thugs for half the price due (Oblivion). Such games make the player feel invincible while committing robbery and even murder.
But what's worse is that ever since "morality" has been introduced into game play, some games have taken things so far that their protagonists actually are evil! In Bayoneta, for instance, you play as witches who fight the armies of God! Christian game developers need to reverse this Satanic trend by not even allowing players to commit any evil in games at all. A line in the sand needs to be drawn.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby Lazarus » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:38 pm

heartoffire wrote:There's a spiritual dimension of this issue that's not being explored. As Christians, we should be repulsed by games that allow us to do evil. Even if some such games "penalize" us for bad behavior. These games still have ways for us to cheat the justice system, such as paying off our bounties to thugs for half the price due (Oblivion). Such games make the player feel invincible while committing robbery and even murder.
But what's worse is that ever since "morality" has been introduced into game play, some games have taken things so far that their protagonists actually are evil! In Bayoneta, for instance, you play as witches who fight the armies of God! Christian game developers need to reverse this Satanic trend by not even allowing players to commit any evil in games at all. A line in the sand needs to be drawn.
Wow, that's Biblical.

I mean, seeing as how God put that line in the sand so Adam and Eve couldn't disobey Him in the garden and all.

...

And I'd like you to back up - with the Bible, the notion that these are "Satanic trends", that us Christian devs shouldn't allow players to do "evil" acts in games, or that we should be repulsed by games that allow you to perform such "evil" acts.

Now personally, I don't know of any scripture that supports any of that. If you do, please share. If you know this because God "revealed" it to you some other way, please share that too.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby bugala » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:15 pm

Actually Lazarus, i think there are scriptures to back this.

Unfortunately im right now at work and am too tired to go search better, so im just pointing out some things and one verse from memory.

Jesus: "But i say, if you even look lustily upon a woman, you have already committed adultery"

This and some other verses in Bible seem to indicate that we have to be very careful about what we speak, that even vain words can be destructive, and also that we should be careful even about our very thoughts!

So taking this in count, i would say there is backing to the idea of not giving player a chance to do evil since that wold be thinking of it.

But if we accept this, we also get to another problem. Should we then not read all of the Bible?

For "if you even think of a woman lusty, you already committed sin" To read and understand that verse, you need to first think of lusting a woman. whops... sin!


What comes to my mind is that heartoffire is bascially right, but that it is the highest goal kind of thing.

What i mean by this is, that Bib,.e clearly tells us "Thou shalt not kill". Yet, God Himself told to get the promised land and kill all the people and even animals from there?

Im not saying it was Gods will, since it wasnt. Gods will was that these people had peacefully moved away from the place, but since that was not an option, God had no other choice but to do it this way.

So while Killing is absolutely not a thing we should do, it can be acceptable choice in some situations. However, we can see that for example David didnt get to build the temple, because he had been stained by the blood of his enemies. Despite the rightfulness of his wars.

I am thinking that maybe hearoffire is right, that in highest goal, we should not let players do evil choices, (nor maybe even read bible from some places, since they would anyway have the understanding even without those places if theyd be living to the highest degree). But because we are living in this non inperfect world, it isw acceptable choice to let player do those evil choices, because it might be necessary for teaching purposes, like it is necessary for bible to tell us about some horrible things and make us think of them for our own good.

Or as it was necessary to kill everyone from promised land, because world isnt perfect.

Just a thought that came to me when i was thinking of this.

For problem with heartoffires comment is, that i can find support to the idea from the bible, but the support i get from bible, would also indicate that i shouldnt be reading all of the bible!

Therefore this thought comes to my mindas the possible solution.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby heartoffire » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:27 pm

God's word is clear:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

-1 John 2:15-16

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

-Romans 12:2

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

-Philipians 4:8
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby Lazarus » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:37 pm

Oh gosh, it all makes sense now.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby Kukanani » Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:45 pm

Yes, the Bible is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt. Evil things should not be our pastimes.

BUT

How can a game possibly show you how to do good without showing you how to do evil? Don't you think a game where you begin as a mercenary who kills ruthlessly, then becomes saved, would be more spiritually helpful than a game where you begin as, and stay as, a pastor? Not only is redemption extremely common in many of today's bestseller games and movies, but it is an extremely powerful plot driving, emotional, and thought-provoking action.

EDIT: The Romans passage you posted talks about the "transforming by the renewing of your mind." Now THAT would be a powerful game.

EDIT 2: What I'm trying to say is similar to what christo said at the bottom of this page: http://talk.christiandevs.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3010
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby heartoffire » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:54 pm

Evil can be appropriately portrayed in a game without involving the player. Besides, we don't need a stupid game to tell us how to do good or evil, and we certainly don't need to do evil things in-game in order to learn. God's word tells us plainly what is good and what is evil, and that is sufficient for us.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby Kukanani » Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:22 pm

God's word tells us plainly what is good and what is evil, and that is sufficient for us.
Well, sorry, but this pretty much makes playing ANY game pointless, which I'm pretty sure is NOT your argument.
"Blessed is the one whose way is blameless, who walks in the law of the Lord"
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby bugala » Tue Dec 07, 2010 10:31 pm

[quote="Kukanani"]
How can a game possibly show you how to do good without showing you how to do evil? Don't you think a game where you begin as a mercenary who kills ruthlessly, then becomes saved, would be more spiritually helpful than a game where you begin as, and stay as, a pastor?/quote]


Hmm.. there are lots of Christian books where someone tells their redemption story. It might start as them being satans worshipper and then ending at them becoming christian.

And lots of those books have converted loads of people to Christ.

So it has that evil plot in it to hook the reader but it leads him towards the Cross.


But, i have to disagree on that pastor point. I think that could be a good game too.

If you have ever seen old i think 70s serie called "Kung Fu", this is very good example. Main character is basically pretty flawless, except that there is this twist that he killed emperors nephew or smoething in rage and is on the run.

but basically he drifts from one place to other and keeps solving peoples problems and teaches hes own life philosophy around.

This kind of thing could be done also so that the main character would be Christian Monk instead of Buddhist Monk like in Kung Fu.

But, even the character is flawlessly good, he still needs the surrondings to be evil to show hes goodness.


Also I am thinking of some old games where fun was in helping others. For example in Kings Quest V i remember there was this part where Bear were trying to take honey from Bees, and you had to chace the bear away and then teh Bee Queen was tahnkful, and There were Ants who ahd some problem too that you needed to solve for them.

There is no reason why whole game couldnt be like that. Super Mario RPGs have lots of submissions in way of "Please help me deliver this letter to X" and those missions are basically fun.

So now that i think of it. Christian game dont necessarily need any evil in it. It can all be good, helping others and at same time delivering the message and good christian life philosophy.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby heartoffire » Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:30 am

Now I think you're getting it! In the beginning, God was good, and His creations were good. God didn't need Adam and Eve to know evil for them to be good and obedient to Him. For example, God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply." And they did as they were told. But when Satan taught them evil, did they do good? NO! They disobeyed God and would have been better off had they only known God's ways.
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby Kukanani » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:23 pm

Sorry, but I still sit in the camp of believing that a game that portrays both good and bad things, because the bottom line is that we aren't perfect. Again, like that Romans passage, be transformed.

I would rather play a Christian game where you are struggling with being perfect than one in which you basically are perfect (if you only did good stuff throughout the game, then you would be perfect).
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Re: Video Games and Moral Choices

Postby heartoffire » Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:22 pm

I don't want this to turn into an argument, so I'll just say this: If you're merely saying that a protagonist should make mistakes in a story setting, advancing a moral argument within the story, then there's nothing wrong with that so long as he comes to repentance, like Frodo did after he sent his friend Samwise away, believing Golum's lie that he stole food.
However, if you prefer to play as characters who steal, practice magic, worship demons, kill innocents, or have sex with hookers, (usually under the guise of "player choice"), then that would not be pleasing to God.

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