[Wrenchfarm approaches a familiar topic in a new way; what's really wrong with all this morality stuff in games? Read it and you might even learn about some new games. Want to see your own writing on the front page? Write something awesome and put it in the C Blogs. -- Kauza]
“What's in it for me?”
It's become vogue in modern games to play with morality. The list of games with karma meters, reputation systems, honour gauges, bounty lists, and fame calculators stretches as long as my sleeve. The ability games have as an interactive medium to suck players in and ask them who they really are in the dark is unparallelled and intrepid developers have used the fictional world of their games to make players think about morality. The fact that games are starting to ask players these questions has been touted as a sign of the gaming industry “growing up.” Getting past the adolescent thrill of big explosions and jiggling bras and moving into something more serious and intellectual (while truthfully usually retaining most of the explosives and busts.)
On the flip side, being a good person often means self-sacrifice and the willingness to put your personal interests aside for the good of others. There are exceptions of course, assholes who do terrible things for the evlulz or because they are demonic forces of nature like something out of Lovecraft. There are even rare goodguys that find helping people to be a wonderful side effect of something they do naturally, or Paladins who specifically get stronger and more powerful the more they help others, etc. But all in all, its not a bad way of looking at least at a simplified view of morality, being good entails sacrifice. All the old slogans, goodguys finish last, evil tends to prevail, ect. Being bad nets you real gains, being good means real sacrifice.
Even taking the mission where you kidnap a four year old girl and sell her off to the slavers, in my opinion probably the darkest and most morally condemnable mission in the game (which is saying something for a game that lets you nuke a entire city) only gives the player a useless hat. There is no reason to do those Paradise Falls missions other than to be an evil git. The slavers don't offer you any bonuses, their shops are stocked with crummy items, and being their friend doesn't open up access to any unique gear or missions or story content or anything. Being the badguy here is just scummy and nasty with no real motivation to do it outside of role playing a scummy and nasty git.
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