The Lack of Moral Complexity in Games


"As much as I hate dragging the real world into my comfortable video game world, there was a piece of reality I couldn't quite ignore this week. A few day ago, I watched the now infamous video of a US Army helicopter firing on a group of people in Iraq which included two Reuters photojournalists. The morality of the act in itself is debatable. There has been much talk about whether this action was allowed under the Army's rules of engagement and whether it was justified. But as the debate raged on, what struck me the most was how much that video display of the Apache helicopter looked like a game. Then I got to thinking, as sick as it may seem, could a videogame ever portray such a complex moral quandary? I'll admit, it's not fun to have to think before you shoot something, but games, like other entertainment mediums, should be able to go beyond thoughtless fun in certain situations. That doesn't mean you can't still have mindless fun, or even have most major releases be mindless fun, but even the great games that border on art are morally simplistic."

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Mastersnake103174d ago

How can anyone honestly expect morals to be implemented into games these days though? All you do is kill kill kill. There is no way for anything else to be implemented.

Anon19743174d ago

Look at what Haze tried to do. Haze totally tried to blur the line between friend and enemy and try to bring it home that these are people that you're fighting and guess what? I appreciate what the developer was trying to do but it fell on it's face, big time.

The reason is simply. When I play games I want to be entertained. I want it to be fun. When I kill an enemy, I want him to howl...curse my name...yell about how he'll strike at me from the depths of hell. That kind of thing. I don't need him curled up at my feet, crying and talking about his mother as he dies, like what Haze did.

I don't want to be made to feel bad for playing a game and dispatching an enemy.

It's strange, because there are plenty of movies that I'll watch that don't make me feel all sunshine and rainbows, but the difference is I'll watch those movies, it'll be intense, I'll appreciate them and then I usually won't watch that movie again for some time.

With videogames I want to play them again and again. If you make me feel bad constantly, I'm not going to want to play. It's ok to have a point that makes a player feel bad if it advances a story and helps you connect, but I don't want to feel that way with every single enemy I dispatch, or right at the end of the game so the entire game leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Baka-akaB3174d ago (Edited 3174d ago )

However Haze failed because it was perceived as a bad game , in both solo and multiplayer mode .
Not because of moral complexity .

Darkstorn3174d ago

I'm tired of shooting the same enemies in the face over and over again. I've been killing virtual terrorists since Goldeneye, and frankly, I'd like to see an accurate representation of what a human death would look like in a game. It would at least be something that's never been done before, and there shouldn't be animosity towards it because we enjoy such a (potentially) innovative and progressive medium.

As video games become more and more like actual 'experiences' and less like arcade-style shooterfests, I think we'll see more games play to a mature audience who wants to experience something NEW. Heavy Rain started this trend, and I hope it continues to be popularized.

Tony P3174d ago

Games should definitely keep trying. But, I don't think they should force you to experience it in every aspect.

SP or campaign is where you want it. And I totally support more games than just RPGs taking advantage of it. Who says every FPS has to have nice visuals, mature themes, but the moral complexity of a game of checkers?

Save that black & white logic for MP. Who wants ride an emotional rollercoaster for every deathmatch? It either becomes draining or trite.

DelbertGrady3174d ago

Haze is a crappy example. Mass Effect has done the best job so far imo.

Redempteur3174d ago

moral choices have to be really implemented into your game ..To do that you need a story to tell ..a good story ..because there is no way you'll care about your choices if you don't like the characters or the setting of the story you're playing ...

it's not just about moral choices it's just a matter of game design ...

Eamon3174d ago

I see games as another medium of art that allows the designer to portray what he wants into it.

Like films and literature. I think people should have an extent of creative freedom. But we should not introduce laws that simply stop people from going to the exteme. I believe that should be left to individual moral principles.

People need to be responsible for themselves in their ideas.
Not forced by a higher power to censor themselves.

HSx93173d ago

I was watching a video on a Nuclear Bomb on YouTube the other day, and if you read at the comments, you will see little 12 year old kids typing down there on something related to MW2, really pisses me off.
Someone should show the little kid the aftermath of what a real nuclear bomb does to people.

Anon19743173d ago (Edited 3173d ago )

The single player was fun, the game could be played all the way through with split screen co-op and the multiplayer was also well done (with the ability to play online split screen with a friend).

Where Haze was week wasn't in gameplay, it was the damned crying bad guys that RUINED it for me. Haze was simply a mediocre shooter with too much hype yet still manged to sell almost a million copies. But that script and the creative choices they made ruined it.

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Genki-JAM3174d ago

Seriously, this has bugging me too for the longest time now.

Obnysalt3174d ago

Tremendous read, hope someone makes something like you described.

Darkstorn3174d ago

Agreed, excellent article. Very well-written, as well.

MechaZain3174d ago (Edited 3174d ago )

The choices shouldn't be so obvious either. With games that have moral systems it's always really clear which side is which.

boogeyman9993174d ago

I would disagree with the idea that games are supposed to induce morals on the gamer. Screw that. Games mean a lot to me, but there pure entertainment. I don't know why this games as art movement is catching steam, but I am totally against it.

Just let me shoot stuff.

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