From Sea to Shining Sea: Morality in Video Games

Hello everyone!

A lot of people think of video games as button mashing, violent nonsense but there are so many games that are more thought-provoking than what we typically think video games can be. A lot of creators today are attempting to add elements into their games to help the player get more out of it than just a fun experience. When a player is extremely immersed in a game, it allows them to put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist and input their moral ideals into their gameplay. Games such as The Walking Dead: Season One through Season Four, Fable, and Detroit: Becoming Human, choose to tackle the idea of morality in different ways.

The Walking Dead series chooses to tackle morality with a post-apocalyptic world infested with zombies. This game forces the player to make timed decisions with dialogue and actions that inevitably changes the course of their gameplay which leads to different endings that continue on later in the series. As the player becomes more and more immersed in the game and involved with the characters, they begin to make moral decisions that they would make in real life, if they were in that situation. For example in Season One, you find two characters in trouble and you can only save one. One character is the child of a friend of the main character and the other is the son of the family’s house you are staying in. No matter which you chose, tensions rise among characters causing the game to change to your moral ideals. The game challenges the player’s morality and ultimately sets up who the player wants to have with them at the end of the game.

Another game that brings in the idea of morality is the Fable series. This game allows the player to be “good” or “bad” either which will bring about different options and different ways of playing the game. Being good allows for its perks but so does being bad. This idea of being good or bad, though it overly simplifies the idea of morality, allows the player to explore different moral choices while playing a game that they wouldn’t necessarily agree with or choose to do in their own lives.

Another game that deals with morality, despite its mixed reviews, is Detroit: Becoming Human. This game’s idea is heavily influenced by racism featuring the idea of AI becoming deviant and rising up against humans. The game revolves around three different main characters story that, depending on how you play, their stories eventually intertwine. This game is heavily decision based which allows for many moments of deeper moral decisions. The player has the option of remaining loyal to the humans, becoming deviant, making friends and leaving them to die. With the hundreds of combinations of decisions, there are so many endings that could potentially reflect the player’s moral ideals. For example, in the game, one of the characters is posed with the dilemma of shooting an AI in exchange for information. The moral dilemma that the player faces is would you shoot the AI because it isn’t really alive or would you not keeping in mind its potential to become deviant. The game, overall, poses a lot of interesting moral dilemmas.

We, as a group, think adding a moral component into our game is really something worth considering. We think that because we’re using Twine, we may be able to set up moral dilemmas throughout our games within our text adventure. A lot of questions, however, can be presented from this subject in video games; Should video games tackle morality?; Do video game creators have agency over a player’s choice or are they truly being able to tackle these concepts of morality themselves?; How best can the From Sea to Shining Sea Squad add that element of morality in their game about the Cold War gone wrong?

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