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Defense Force: moral choice in games


Another choice that had me contemplating it for days afterward appears much earlier in the game, but is interesting to me for largely the same reason. It sounds unlikely at first, but this came with the option to sacrifice people to the Temple of Shadows.

Now, I won't argue for a second that the whole Temple of Light/Temple of Shadows dichotomy in Fable II is particularly interesting in itself. Donations to the Temple of Light do nothing but augment the Hero's virtuous standing in the world, while sacrifices to the Temple of Shadows don't benefit the player enough monetarily to make them a logical thing to do for any reason other than to become more evil in the game.

But then, that isn't entirely true. I really can't commend Lionhead enough on the decision, but they also included an Achievement in the game for sacrificing ten villagers to the Temple of Shadows. There is no corresponding Achievement for donations to the Temple of Light.

Think about that for a moment. Fable II is offering real world rewards (insofar as Achievements are real world rewards) for evil deeds in game. By going for this Achievement, I get to permanently add a nice little 10 Gamerscore to my total, but at what cost? A little bit of my soul?

I like to think that in general, I am a good person, but with these two examples, Fable II has shown me that I am not as altruistic as I once thought. Twice in the game I chose to do something self-serving, at the cost of many virtual lives. And if this blog is any indication, I agonize over that fact.

So if you say we have no interesting moral choices in games, then I must disagree. If none of these (or any of the many other examples out there) give you any pause, then you are either not thinking about them enough, or you have no interest in moral choice to begin with.

And I'm not saying that there aren't examples of uninteresting moral choices in games. When you're given the choice to murder a little boy's puppy or cure his leukemia, it's easy to write off moral choice as an unworthy endeavor. But even in this case, on the most superficial level, it gives the player two ways to play through the game, where a game lacking moral choice only has one. Sure, you might only play good or evil, but it's not like options are taken away from you with respect to games with more traditional narratives. In other words, adding elements of moral choice to a game can't possibly subtract content that would be present otherwise, it can only add.

So to complain about the state of moral choice in games seems silly to me. At best, it shows ignorance of some great examples of thought-provoking gameplay. At worst, it shows that some people want less interaction with a medium whose major defining characteristic is interactivity.

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About Darren Nakamuraone of us since 2:29 AM on 11.06.2006

Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011.

While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strategy, and rhythm games, he takes particular interest in independent games. He produced the Zero Cool Podcast for about four years, and he plays board games quite a bit when he can find willing companions.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Darren Nakamura knows several people in the video game industry, most of whom are Destructoid alumni. These include:

Anthony Burch, former writer for Gearbox Software
Ashly Burch, notable voice actor
Nick Chester, publicist for Harmonix Music Systems
Chad Concelmo, writer for Golin Harris
Aaron Linde, writer for Gearbox Software
Jayson Napolitano, publicist for Scarlet Moon Productions
Brad Nicholson, former publicist for Uber Entertainment
Alex Ryan, publicist for Kalypso Media
Jim Sterling, notable voice actor

Darren backs a lot of Kickstarter campaigns! If you want to see what he has backed, you can go here. If he ever reviews a game that he backed, that will be explicitly disclosed in the review.

Darren invested in Psychonauts 2 on Fig.
Xbox LIVE:Dexter345
PSN ID:Dexter345
Steam ID:http://steamcommunity.com/profil
Mii code:1257 7687 3747 6405


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