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No more black and white: why we need videogame morality to evolve

In Richard Kelly’s 2001 film Donnie Darko, the titular character is presented with a self-help plan where all human decisions are plotted on a line between two emotions, fear and love. “There are other things that need to be taken into account here.” He says. “Like the whole spectrum of human emotion. You can’t just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else.” He’s right y’know. And games been wrong for far too long.

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officialplaystationmagazine.co.uk
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shodan742161d ago

Spot on. When games adopt a binary 'good vs evil' approach to choices and actions it feels quite cheap and unrealistic. But when games do something a little more sophisticated moral choice becomes very interesting indeed.

The Witcher 2 was great at that, in my view. It was incredibly difficult to decide what to do at certain points, because choices were much more blurred and the consequences of them difficult to predict.

JsonHenry2161d ago

^^ The Witcher 2 I was never quite sure what the "good" or "bad" choice was.

jony_dols2161d ago

Telltale's The Walking Dead game has also took it one step further & the decisions that you thought made in good conscience keep coming back & biting you in the ass.

Septic2161d ago

@jony

Yes, quite literally it seems.

ab5olut10n2161d ago

yeah, the more complex the morality of the choice, the more you can emotionally invest yourself in it. that's one of the key concepts in immersion.

DragonKnight2161d ago

There's those buzzwords again. "Unrealistic." Look, games aren't supposed to be reality simulators, they are escapes from reality. Morality choices don't have to be more "real." And it's not like they are already so black and white as some may think. Point is, games also strive to give people a sense of accomplishment. If you turn everything grey, victories will seem smaller, defeats will seem inevitable and unavoidable, and end games will seem anti-climactic.

Jourdy2882161d ago

I only agree with you in part about that, I mean sure, most books, movies, (and yes, games) have very black and white, one or the other morality. While I think some decisions are either *DEFINITELY* right or wrong, some things aren't so easily decided. Why not put them in games? Why not make an inevitable defeat from doing what's clearly the right thing? It'll make the player think.
"Did I really do the right thing? In the end... Was it a victory?"
I think a game like that would be interesting.

TiberusX872161d ago (Edited 2161d ago )

I wouldn't call The Dark Knight Rises realistic, but the moral depth brought to the fantasy opposed to the lines of The Avengers (which also is great!) really sets itself and the rest of the trilogy apart from most movies in the genre.

I think games which use the story as the core component of the experience really excel when they use compelling writing that puts the player in unexpected and intriguing scenarios and its the choice of how to handle them that sets these games apart from the film industry.

Its not that every game has to be realistic, but the choices and consequences should still make sense within the realm of that fantasy and mean something. If you advertize a game to have choice, then lazy writing just isnt acceptable and I think thats what the article is getting at. The fans of The Witcher series (which is high fantasy) will confirm how it sets itself apart and gives the player choices which matter.

OmniSlashPT2161d ago

Actually I think inFAMOUS morality system is better and influences the world more than Skyrim's or ME3. In inFAMOUS you have 3 to 4 big decisions (in either you're good or bad) and they truly affect the world. In Skyrim you choose whatever the answer you want but that doesn't affect the world at all. The only choices that affect the world are perhaps the Stormcloaks/Imperials arc...And don't get started on ME, that RGB ending was absolutely terrible.

I think games with choices should discard red and blue, and be more neutral. No clear evidence in which you're being good or evil. The only thing I liked about the GoT game was that you had a bunch of answers, and there was no color, no good or bad, and every answer had consequences. You choose what you truly think, not want you want your character to be. And that was awesome. No renegade or paragon bs.

TiberusX872161d ago

I want to play as myself and be how I would want to be, not just "the good guy" or "the asshole". Got ya.

Check out The Witcher 2 - Its the best example I know of. :)

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