Mass Effect

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The sense of morality in ''Choices Matter'' video games

With the recent rise in popularity in ”choices matter” based video games, such as Mass Effect, Life is strange, Heavy rain, It’s given players a new sense of immersion with each play through and outcome shaped by the flexibility of the one’s choices. But does that it essentially It may teaches morality?

  • You could even expand this to ask if these games SHOULD teach morality. You could also discuss games that make the player think they are doing something morally right, when their actions are actually a lot more subjective (I point to season 2 of Telltale's The Walking Dead as a good example of this). – JMPetrequin 9 years ago
  • This is a great topic for exploration. I would consider changing the title, though. Perhaps something like "Choices and Sense of Morality in Video Games"? It could be useful to look at the history of morality systems and how the function of them changes in particular games. For example, I found in Knights of the Old Republic I felt horrible whenever I did a 'dark side' option because when the writing comes up its in red and plays this HORRIBLE music. – Jordan 9 years ago
  • Undertale would also be a good mention, given that the entire game's premise and commentary is based around the "Choices Matter" mechanic. I agree with JMPetrequin in that expanding it to asking if they should teach morality could be really cool, especially since it seems difficult to analyze whether a game can actually "teach" morality per se, only that they could inform it. – Null 9 years ago
  • I'd debate that Mass Effect, as a whole, is a game in which 'choices matter'. From my experience of playing it, one half of the game is such a game where you explore relationships, while the other half is shooting. I never found one to affect the other. Undertale is a good addition; a reference to Dark Souls, where killing an NPC (and you can kill almost all of them) can have many unforseen consequences, may also add an interesting dimension to the discussion. One of the most vital things to consider, I think, is how games label 'morality' or karma alongside how the choices that are labelled as such affect the narrative. KOTOR has the light and dark side of the force and a different play-style for each. Fallout 3 had 'karma' that didn't really change anything aside from what noise was played after what you did. The Fable games are also useful to think about - note the change over time in the series. Being bad in the early games made you look ugly, but in Fable 3 you could look be an absolute [expletive] and still look dashing (but the kingdom you ruled might not). Does this reflect how the morality of the settings of the Fable games degraded over time? – JekoJeko 9 years ago
  • I don't think these games actually teach morality, but they allow us to use our own morality to make decisions in game. I think a question you could ask is what these games teach us about ourselves? – Jiraiyan 9 years ago
  • Drawing a conclusion in this regard depends on the definition of morality. Some, including me, would argue that morality is subjective. From that point of view these games force moral choices on us that have different meaning to the makers than to themselves. Furthermore, the choices are very often a simple black/white, yes/no affair. Such clear cut morality is unrealistic. I believe this idea is coming to fruiting, but has a long way to go. – fleish31 9 years ago
  • I think it's important to realise what games are actually giving a choice that effects the total outcome of the game - a kind of immersive theatre event where each person will undergo a different experience based on their character decisions- or an illusion of choice where the player is meant to feel that their actions make a difference, but in the end they will still have a similar experience to every other player. What also makes this interesting is that whichever path a game designer chooses there will always be a differing opinion upon the game as a whole. – CurtisCarlyle 9 years ago