Sessler's Soapbox: Morality in Gaming

Posted: December 12, 2011
Sessler's Soapbox: Morality in Gaming
Adam ponders moral decisions in video games and how they can act as a litmus test for the gamers who are playing them.

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  • Rents

    Up yours Sessler! - minnesota

    But on topic, in Fallout 3 and New Vegas (The first RPGs I've ever played); I was always good, only stole when necessary.

    Posted: February 29, 2012 8:34 PM
  • muttonface

    Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Even though it is an action-adventure game the game instilled a sense of fourth wall in the boss battle against The Sorrow where your actions affected your game.

    The boss battle involved a man who died in battle. He summons all the enemies you killed in the game, every single one of them, whether it was 1 soldier dead or 100 accuraately up to that point in the game. Those ghosts of the people you kill walk past you in a river shouting out various things such as the way you killed them or something about their family, all still in pain in the afterlife.

    It truly made me regret murdering them all especially slicing their necks from behind and shooting them in the balls which by the way you still see them holding in aggravation as ghosts =]

    Posted: February 8, 2012 7:34 AM
  • Seluhir

    For me when it comes to a game it depends on how impactful the characters are.

    For example, when I played inFamous 2 I couldn't NOT pick the hero route just because Cole was such an interesting character and watching him develop from the guy who he was to who he could be... was just so rich that I couldn't resist it. I did go back and play the evil path just to experience it, but my first instinct was to do good.

    In Skyrim however... the characters were SO poorly designed and meaningless that it didn't bother me at all to do bad things to them. As I commented when discussing the issues on another website "I randomly killed an old lady. I paid my fine, went and looted her corpse to get more than my money back... and didn't give it a second thought. In fact I passed her corpse a dozen times before it disappeared and never even stopped to look at it except once to make sure I didn't miss any loot. She had a name, I'm sure she was important to something... but the characters never felt like they mattered... and thus I treat them that way."

    I don't like being an evil character... I usually try to be the hero first... but if the characters don't feel like people to me... it doesn't feel evil to me to mistreat them...

    Posted: January 25, 2012 4:20 PM
  • mistermorkri

    Every time I hear Adam Sessler talk, I am intellectually stimulated.

    Posted: January 24, 2012 5:04 PM
  • Superchee2e

    I like to play games as if I were the acctual character. Ya I could just murder him and take the gold I was promised for completing the quest or I can earn it like I actually would. It's more fun IMO to pretend I was the character than to create something I'm not. Is still enjoy saints row the third and I join the dark brotherhood and thieves guild but I do them as a separate character from my primary. Even playing wow I only had 1 character from the horde and he was I think only level 35 or so. (it's been a while.) it's nice to be able to kill everything but I like to play as if it were "real" to a certain extent of course.

    Posted: January 22, 2012 9:28 PM
  • KGB21

    This makes me think of my behavior in Metro 2033, as I often used stealth but I used it to kill without retaliation. The thing that happened was because I was being efficient I tend to kill everyone but while I know it is necessary I feel real guilt, like there is a part where two Nazi's talk about their families and wanting to run away with them to a less militant station, I felt for them yet I had to kill them or risk my self and the whole story/game so I was forced to kill them after listening to them talk and I felt guilty. This is the case in many locations in the game and because of the detail and the fact it makes people feel real, if cheesy, makes it feel real. I think that shows how uniquely powerful games can be and what they are capable of, and there are many games with similar situations but for me that is the most intense personal experience of that.

    Posted: January 13, 2012 10:10 PM
  • Trieloth

    Adam Iam from minnesota and its fifty degrees outside the past few days! Anywho great show and see what you mean with the whole moral thing. The original mortal kombat let me do things in a video game that I cant do in real life. I think it desensitized me and dont have strong urges of ripping peoples heads off... as much.I Cant wait for the next soapbox!

    Posted: January 10, 2012 12:32 PM
  • Spartan-021

    This isn't an RPG, but in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (Yeah, I'm a little late to the Revelations party), I always try to knock the enemies out instead of killing them. All I do is disarm guards, and then I knock them out with my fists. In the little statistics page thing, it says that I have used "my fists" more than any of my other weapons.

    I do believe that Ezio, in Brotherhood specifically, still harbors hatred towards all Templars for what they did to his family. He would not think twice about killing the enemies in the game, but for me I guess I just felt a Batman vibe or something.

    There WAS one segment where some bandits kidnapped a courtesan and then killed her...........yeah, those guys are dead now.

    Posted: January 9, 2012 8:05 PM
  • jmal1039

    I am playing Skyrim as a good Battlemage on the side of the Empire. The great thing is few decisions I make in the game are unambiguous, just like real life. I'm reuniting Skyrim, but killing dozens of people in the process and showing even my human enemies no mercy. Even in games like GTA and GOW, where the main character is evil, they are so well written that you can see glimmers of goodness in them.Realy well designed games always do this; they give you a full sense of what might have been, if their characters had taken another path. Skyrim is realy great because you get to write the story yourself and see the consequences.

    Posted: January 6, 2012 4:20 PM
  • G4GamerChild

    Sometimes when I play GTA Borderlands Rage or just cause 2, I will cause total destruction to everything around me. I don't know what this says about me, but when I play L.A. Noire, in which you play as a cop, I try and hit the pedestrians. Then I am required to act bad I will do the opposite just like in that one Call of Duty game with that airport and the terrorists. Cool, I kill EVERYBODY, terrorists, civilians, guards, everybody. It's funny!

    Posted: December 30, 2011 8:36 AM
  • G4GamerChild

    Sometimes when I play GTA Borderlands Rage or just cause 2, I will cause total destruction to everything around me. I don't know what this says about me, but when I play L.A. Noire, in which you play as a cop, I try and hit the pedestrians. Then I am required to act bad I will do the opposite just like in that one Call of Duty game with that airport and the terrorists. Cool, I kill EVERYBODY, terrorists, civilians, guards, everybody. It's funny!

    Posted: December 30, 2011 8:34 AM
  • Chard6

    I actually find a false sense of morality in these games, the designers make the good path more interesting with long chain quests and content, whereas the bad path is usually starting a fight and never getting to experience that content

    Posted: December 22, 2011 4:39 PM
  • Tracy_gamer

    Get Legit Promo license for Skyrim. I have applied. Hope I will get it soon enough. check:
    www.in-no-v8 .com

    Posted: December 22, 2011 9:10 AM
  • cry_of_paine

    I see video games as a way of being someone that you aren't. I typically play the female characters when given the option. I typically play the darker characters and make the darker choices when given the option. And of course, I'm not a soldier or a mage or a spy or a Jedi. That's the appeal of games, is to pretend to be something different than the every day.

    Plus, let's face it, the bad guys are almost always more interesting. Anakin is a whiny emo kid, Vader is the dark, mysterious imposing figure.

    I do find though that, especially when I become really invested in a story, that my own personality starts to bleed through. For instance, the new Star Wars MMO, I've got a Sith character that I almost always pick the dark side option. I've only picked light twice. Once was to get the approval of my companion, by turning someone in to the Empire instead of taking their bribe. The other was choosing to spare a woman who's husband wanted to have her killed for having an affair. I just couldn't bring myself to pick the dark side option of killing her, probably because the actress did such a good job voicing her that you really get sucked in. There have been a few other cases where picking dark side has made me wince just a bit, or I've hesitated for a second before finally picking it.

    On the flip side, creating a rich character can draw you in in that way as well, and make it easier to pick those kinds of options that your character would pick, instead of the ones you would.

    Posted: December 20, 2011 2:32 AM
  • Lyr1c

    Nice Soapbox Sess.

    See, when I play games involving any type of morality (whether an implemented System like in Infamous, or an illusion like in Skyrim), I tend to make the decisions that I would make in real life. While this may seem boring on the surface, my reason behind it is this: If the decisions that I make in the game world reflect my true personality, and the in-game population reacts to that personality, then I get to see if I'm really the 'good guy' that I think that I am by other peoples' (the developers') perspectives. It's a way to look at yourself from the Outside > In. No Rose-Tinted glasses.

    Posted: December 19, 2011 9:44 AM
  • ajax32

    I've played BioShock and BioShock 2 many times. I still can't bring myself to harvest a single little sister. Not once.

    Posted: December 17, 2011 11:15 AM
  • LaughingWolf

    I always felt that people who played as the villains, craved the freedom that is provides. What's more free than not following established societal rules? There is no boundaries except for the physical boundaries of that world. Or it could also be that is sometimes a lot easier to play the villain.

    Posted: December 16, 2011 12:21 PM
  • Innominate

    For every action there is a equal opposite reaction. That is the nature of our universe. Be it in thought, physical, or what ever dimension it may be. You can tell your mind any story you like, and thats were it begins. :-)

    Posted: December 16, 2011 5:38 AM
  • cuchulain

    I always play the good guy. My character in Fallout 3 was so good I probably could have killed a whole settlement and still had a crazy high Karma rating...not that I would do that...

    Posted: December 15, 2011 12:20 PM
  • hoof_hearted4

    Adam look behind you! someone is waiving their arms in that window with you!!

    haha nahh we kid. but seriously, in games like Infamous or Mass Effect, i always play the good guy first, and then play the bad guy. and i always make sure the good play through is my main play through, with the unlocks and stuff, in case the save game matters,

    Posted: December 15, 2011 12:39 AM