Archive for the ‘Moral Choice Systems’ Tag

Emotional Loot

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

For today, I was told to make the post I was thinking about writing when I started up this shindig. It’s only a half-baked idea in my head at current, but we’ll see how it fares from here on out.

Imagine this scenario. By a stroke of horrifically bad luck, you and a group of relative strangers gotten yourself stranded on an island. The Pacific stretches out all around you, with no civilisation in sight, either on or around your little piece of paradise.

As for fellow strandees, there are a couple of kids, their parents and those taking charge. There are elderly, there is a hostess and there is the flaming wreckage of the plane, smoke cutting a swathe through the deceptively blue sky. You, and these ten other varieties of yourself, are the only survivors.

From the husk of the plane, you’re able to retrieve a small amount of food not either spoiled or burned to cinders. You can ration these out, but as weeks pass and the food dwindles, you only have enough to feed some people rather than everyone. When you get out the food, people look to you with hungry eyes.

You can only feed four of your surviving eleven, including yourself.

Who would you choose?

Now, since more likely than not you’re reading this in front of a computer and not as you desperately Google how to deal with this hypothetical situation, you have the option of not answering or just dismissing the difficult. However, imagine you’re doing it in a game, and there’s no chance for you to pause. It’s either quit to desktop or make that choice. All or nothing.

It’s hard, right? But you know when you make the right choice that the payoff’s worth that nervous drop in your stomach. In that way, playing the game is exactly the same as the creation of these scenarios.

Options like these seem to be cropping up left and right as moral choice systems seem to be becoming part of the norm. Whether to kill that guy, make that leap, join with this side or that, et cetera, et cetera. Players are being given more freedom as games become more complex, and as technology begins to keep up with our growing ideas of immersive gaming experiences.

However, these systems only work worth a golly good damn when decisions aren’t just black and white, good and evil matters.

You only start to get true freedom in your playthrough when your decisions, as the player, genuinely affect your status in the game, where what you choose to do now changes what you can do later and other characters’ ultimate fates are just as malleable as your own.

There needs to be less of the definite line between what’s right and what’s not. I don’t want a true or false dichotomy; give me a multiple choice question without the obvious two wrong answers. Make me have to phone in to the audience and take all the time I’m given. I want to give a damn about the choice I’m making for a better reason than the loot I’ll get from it later.

I want some emotional coins from hitting that choice box.