In this day and age most single player games come with a morality slider, Be it different ways to complete an objective ranging from the angelic or the dickhead way or just keeping track of how many people you either heal or pin to walls with a harpoon. Basically every game today with a proper story line likes to run with this added sense of freedom. Sure some buck the trend and stick with ordinary story telling but I cant help but love having the choice. However, I hardly ever use it!
Whenever I sit down to play a game where I can tread the line of good or bad I will ALWAYS firmly plant my feet on the good side of the morality spectrum. Why though? guilt? Surely not I mean it’s a game! Just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s designed to kill a few hours. It can’t actually make me feel bad right? Wrong, games are escapism sure but you still bring your morals to the table whenever you sit down to play one. You just can’t switch off that voice in your head that says be good! At least I can’t. Sure i know some people who are more than a little keen to start laying waste to a village in Skyrim because a demon only they can hear told them too, or will go on a mad rampage in GTA without a second thought. I just can’t do that! No matter what the game if there’s collateral damage to be avoided and lives to be saved then I’ll do my best!
I started to notice this trend when I first played the original inFamous. Now this superhero free roam fun-time was marketed heavily on it’s moral choices. Most of them came in the form of patronizing inner monologues where hero and matching clothes fan Cole has to pick how to handle a situation. It always really boiled down to save people at the cost of overall power or murder a few dozen innocents to become a literal god of lightning. Now the game was by no means difficult so these choices could really just be passed over and you wouldn’t see too much difference besides how quickly bad guys damage your yellow jacketed ass. Even so I would always take the good guy route and only really went dark on my second play through and if I’m honest… I never actually finished the game as Evil Cole. I just couldn’t do it, I felt legitimately guilty. Why?! One again all I was doing was blasting pixel people with pixel lightning! Once I’d experienced that guilt though i started to notice my behavior in other games following suit…
Dishonored as I’ve mentioned before is one of my favorite gaming franchises (even got the mark of the outsider tattooed on my chest!) The entire series is built on the idea that bad actions create a bad environment. Every one of my many playthroughs of any game in this series I’ve always been sure that the only person to die if anyone at all is going to be the main target. I don’t allow myself to kill anyone else since in my head canon these are just guards and civilians going about their lives! None of them have really done anything to deserve to be eaten alive by a swarm of giant angry rats or be shot in the throat! Of course sometimes my vigilante justice is tested when you come across the world building events where say a guard is tormenting a guy on the street or shaking down a shop keeper, and even then i just can’t make myself take the easier path and go murder a fool! I will literally die in that game before I’ll kill someone! Luckily Dishonored’s Chaos system means my behavior actually makes the rest of the game easier since there will be fewer guards and the ones who are present will be less armored and much more relaxed meaning I can normally just stroll through a mission without even having to fight once.
This is a moral choice I can really get behind since historically games rely on the rule that if you’re bad then the game will be easier but people won’t be as nice to you. If you’re good then the game will be tricky to get through but you’ll have the support of the people! Why more games don’t really support the good guy choice when most of these end up being canon i really don’t know.
So really all I’m saying with this article is I love a bit of choice but I know the real me just won’t be making those bad decisions! Guess I’ll just have to YouTube those evil endings!