Thursday, September 25, 2014

RPG Morality systems

I've been thinking a little bit recently about morality systems in video games. I'm sure you will have encountered them in the Mass Effect, Fable and Fallout games of recent years. Although I am trying to live a life in the state of grace the fallen element in me still pulls me towards developing a character in these games who isn't always the most virtuous- I think that is for a few reasons.

For starts, some games give negative morality points for actions that a virtuous character might well do, sometimes what we would consider morally neutral are considered as bad. Another reason is that Vice can come about by accident in these games!

The thing I find most lacking in the present day morality systems is "vertical accountability". The games have no acknowledgement of a God and His laws as the basis for the moral code that individuals are veering away from or towards.

I tease my friends that if you get game over in a morality based game the ending scene should be heaven/ hell/ purgatory so it is clear that your character's moral decisions had an impact on his eternal destiny.

Apparently Ultima IV was the first RPG to feature a morality system and unlike modern day ones it sounds as if you can only complete the game by becoming the virtuous character, that sounds like a pretty decent Catholic approach- but not quite as good as my heaven/hell/purgatory idea!


Anonymous said...

Hey Catholic seminarian here,

I have a question and would like your thoughts. I want to play Dragon Age Inquisition because I really enjoy RPGs. It has sexual content and nudity. It will no doubt be a highlighted feature because well sex...knowing that the game has these elements should I refrain from playing? My intention is to enjoy a good rpg not look at pixel porn.

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Miles Mariae said...

Hey Catholic seminarian,

I'm a deacon myself (soon to be ordained priest),

I think I'd personally steer clear of RPGs that were overly impure, I know in some games these are "secret" scenes that you have to go out of your way to get. If that is the case, maybe the game as a whole would be ok.

Its a pity to support RPGs descending into the realm of pornography simulations, judging by the popularity of impure sections in recent games (gta 5, dragon age, the sims) I think that this will be the future.

I'm still playing through all the old rpgs I never managed to get when I owned a ps1 through the psn. There a lot of clean decent rpgs you might not have played. Wild Arms isn't bad and both Suikodens are now on PSN too.