Last month, outspoken game designers Clint Hocking and Manveer Heir
held a little cross-blog discussion regarding the design and
implementation of ethical choices in video games. We are accustomed to
making decisions about weapons, strategies, and the color of our Sim
hairstyles, but meaningful choices with moral weight are relatively
rare. Even when faced with potentially tough moral dilemmas, the
current nature of video games may dilute the effect. Heir suggests
in-game permanence (which has created various interesting experiments), while Hocking eschews authorial influence in favor of ludic solutions.
It is tough topic, so we decided to we decided to call for backup. This
week, we have are honored to welcome Nels Anderson, author of the
excellent Above49 blog and gameplay programmer for Hot Head Games.
Join us while we discuss permanence, harvesting children,
Choose-Your-Own-Adventures, readability, and the future of moral
choices in games. With three of us at the table, we made this podcast
slightly longer than normal, but extra time is well spent on a very
complicated and contentious subject. We encourage you to read the
Hocking's and Heir's original articles in the show notes, along with
supplementary pieces we discuss in the show. As always, feel free to
weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.
Some discussion starters:
- Have you ever faced a difficult in-game discussion that stemmed from moral concerns? If so, did you translate this into simply mechanical outcomes? Did you approach is role-playing as the protagonist?- If your in-game decisions were permanent, would they be more meaningful? What techniques add add weight to a decision?- To what extent is in-game decision making impacted by real-world experiences? Do you carry your personal set of ethics into a game? To listen to the podcast:
- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.
- Run time: 41 min 13 sec
- "Ethical Decision Making," by Clint Hocking, via Click Nothing
- "Designing Ethical Dillemas," by Manveer Heir via Design Rampage
- "Ludonarrative Dissonance in Bioshock," by Clint Hocking
- Rescuing vs. Harvesting Little Sisters Graph, via Escapist Magazine
- Music provided by Brad Sucks