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No Gods, No Masters

This is going to be my first blog, which is why Iíve kept it shortish. Iíve never done anything like this on any other site so I thought I start with a subject which I find quite interesting and that is the choice of non-interference
Morality is an old concept, even for videogames. When itís brought up, itís usually about the arbitrary nature of the good and evil axis. Itís often focused on those games like Infamous, Mass Effect and Fable.

In this blog, Iím going to discuss the morality of neutrality and how it is so often misunderstood. How the choice to reject can actually be the greatest bringer of change. Often, staying neutral is seen as either the most boring route or a way of opting out altogether. Given two choices and then choosing neither isnít seen as very appetising.

The people who believe this donít realise that choosing the middle ground isnít apathy, it isnít the same as shrugging your shoulders. They donít realise that refusing a choice is itself a choice. Iím going to examine two different games which I believe best represent the impact neutrality brings; The Witcher and Fallout New Vegas. There will be SPOILERS.

Is it me or does everything look cooler in Lego form?

First Iíll discuss Fallout: New Vegas (Iím aware there was a karma system built into the game but since it was so broken, Iím going to ignore it.)

At first look, the morality of each faction within the game seems very obvious. The NCR with its focus on creating outposts and making a home for people is good. Caesarís Legion, which shows no mercy and brings fear and torture to their enemies are the evil. And Mr House who wants to preserve New Vegas and keep both factions at bay is neutral.

However upon further evaluation you can see that none of these belong in such clear cut boxes. The NCR continues to use underhanded and amoral tactics in order to further their plans. They care less for the people and more for power. While itís true, they are a force for stability, theyíre willing to sacrifice that stability for their own goals.

Caesarís Legion is less a force of evil but one of strength at any cost. They donít commit war crimes in order to be cruel but to force people to see how brutal life is and how the only way to overcome such savagery is to take control at any cost.

Mr House tries to keep all factions at bay, not because he doesnít want to get involved, but because he wants to cut New Vegas off from any possible contamination. Heís actually a force for all things static. His fear of change is so strong, he wants to use New Vegas to act as an ideal of permanency.

You might have noticed that the title for this blog ďNo Gods, No MastersĒ is in fact an achievement in Fallout: New Vegas for refusing to ally with any faction and forge your own path. This was the path I first chose playing the game. I thought it offered me freedom and the choice of non-committance but didnít see the consequences of it. Caesarís Legion, the NCR and Mr House all offer a degree of stability but by systematically declaring war against each you eliminate any chance New Vegas has for establishing a peaceful society. Though the path seems to offer you a way of not getting involved, doing so will result in more upheaval than any other decision.

I think my case is made

The Witcher is, I believe, one of the best examples of offering a middle road and showing a realistic outcome for doing so. The Witcher 2 also did this to some extent but the choice was nowhere near as prevalent.

Throughout The Witcher youíre shown different factions, different ways of life and the people who are affected by these. Itís a game about choice and unlike so many others shows you the consequences of those choices.

Just as in F:NV, there is no good or evil in this world. The Flaming Rose offers protection to the weak but death to those who want to live outside this protection. The Scoia'tael seek to bring equality to non-humans but this is at the edge of a sword and they are just as vicious and bigoted as those they fight.

Then thereís Geralt, who is constantly being forced to ally himself to either one. Both try to garner his sympathy by showing the other as monsters. Geralt is almost neutrality made human, he represents the ideal of non-interference and choosing to reject both attempts at flattery shows just how little they respect him.

He is seen as no less the enemy to either side for staying out of a battle that isnít his. Rather than less complicating your actions, it makes the game even more difficult as youíre brought into conflict with both sides and have no one to come to your aid.

In both New Vegas and The Witcher, choosing neutrality often leads to more problems than less. Itís because the factions in these games present a realistic portrayal the path of neutrality results in. This is seen every day. Often when two people are having an argument over strong beliefs, refusing to get involved will often end in them attacking you or seeing you as weak, as a person whoís too afraid to get of the fence.

So to sum up, when forced between two roads, take the third. That was corny, I know, but come on itís my first blogÖasshole.
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About T 1000one of us since 4:38 PM on 10.01.2012

I'm a human being, though I have been accused of being an automaton. I enjoy reading, taking things apart, doing vast amounts of research on something that interests me and...stuff.

I wanted to pursue a profession as an assassin/thief when I was a teenager, but instead studied philosophy and literature at college.

I'm Irish, not American Irish, Irish Irish and currently live in Cork.