BioWare on why moral choices in games fail so much


In our last BioWare story, we talked about how Dragon Age: Origins will be "aggressively" grey, and how it plans to introduce a truly engaging moral choice system. I then asked Mike Laidlaw why he feels that other games have failed in their quest to bring morality into videogames, and how close we've come to capturing that true sense of dilemma in a game.

"I think it's difficult because the raw morality you're presented with in a game is a very narrow slice of life, a narrow experience band," he explains. "So in order to convey what's good or bad or evil or not takes a lot of heavy lifting. You can do an entire play or an entire novel around a single moral moment and the reactions or repercussions of of it, but a game is a big experience and you have to account for the player working within a possibility space as opposed to a single linear narrative.

"We often lose the ability to dive into the internal monologue, a lot of those things that act as ways to help morality and that kind of choice are less effective in games, or at the worst scenario, they haul you away from being a videogame anymore and they take control away from the player.

"How close are we? I think Dragon Age is the closest that BioWare's ever done. I think we've done a pretty good job of challenging you in situations where there's no easy answer ... Ideally, we end up with players with different mindsets and different thoughts and if things are really humming, then your origin story has helped to paint the world a certain color, giving it a certain tint that helps you tackle the world from a different angle."

What do you think? Why has morality in games been a dud until now? Do you agree with Mike, that videogames are too broad and lack the narrative tools of other mediums, or is there something more than that?

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Jim Sterling
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Filed under... #BioWare #Developer stuff #Role-Playing Games



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