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Infamous

Bias in Gaming: Predetermined Moral Choices, Empathy Gaps, and Victims

Playing a game like inFamous, Bioshock, Dragon Age, Star Wars: The Old Republic, or any game that has a morality system built into the game has been a bit strange for me. They build stories where you get to choose how your character’s life should play out, with dozens of opportunities to piss off the wrong people because they have punchable faces or act like skidmarks on your underwear where regardless of how clean you’ve been they still appear, moments that make you want to change sides because your emotions get in the way causing you to ally with a faction with a sympathetic background or because a character that you’ve grown fond of was killed by one’s hands.

But all of those opportunities are useless. Not because I’m so detached to the struggles that the characters in the story exhibit, nor because the storytelling did a crappy job of getting me attached to the characters within the story so actions against them wouldn’t cause some emotional reaction.

It’s because when the game started, I decided that this playthrough my player would be the Paragon, always choosing the morally “right” thing to do.

By picking a side and sticking to it, my actions are predetermined regardless of how bad the situation got to the characters in the game. No matter what kind of emotional response I would have because my favorite ship was getting tortured, chaos the villain was causing, betrayal that my best-friend would cause.

InFamous_Second_Son_Karmic_Moment_-_Hank

The emotional stress that any of this would cause me normally would be completely disintegrated because I knew that my actions were already predetermined. I would be the Predetermined Paragon for this run of the game.

But why does choosing this even matter? Does the canonical story assume that the player would be a Paragon of goodwill, ethics and morality pulling from an infinite pool of patience and persistence until they succeed? Perhaps.

A question as important: why does it cause such emotional stress in the first place?

More after the break.

Continue reading “Bias in Gaming: Predetermined Moral Choices, Empathy Gaps, and Victims”

Game Design: Personal Choices and Morale Choices

Bad person has taken your girlfriend/spouse/waifu pillow and has her hanging in a potato sack on the perch of one building; also has kidnapped 10 doctors and has them hanging on the top of a different building. You can only pick one group to live and the other falls 30 stories onto the concrete pavement below, which would you pick?

Doing what you want to do and doing the right thing is tricky. You have your own selfishness involved, not wanting to lose something that’s yours, having something taken away from you, but what about the needs of the greater good or the needs of the the person that you want to rescue? What about creating a simulation so you can walk through your choice and see the potential consequences of such a choice?

Continue reading “Game Design: Personal Choices and Morale Choices”

Let’s Talk about Infamous: Second Sons

Infamous, the experiment in developing an original Superhero with the freedom of creating abilities and lore that’s untied to any pre-existing superhero universe. Two surprises from the PS3 generation was the ambition of Infamous and Prototype in creating an original open-world Superhero universe, but it would seem that Infamous had the staying power between the two with its 3rd installment released on the PS4. While the first 2 followed Cole and his very Spiderman-like origin story and his various continuous acts of self-sacrifice throughout the two games, we move on to Delsin and his X-Men-like origin story. The game tweaked a few aspects from the past few games but still did a great job at creating an original identity to both Delsin and the game instead of just another iteration of the same franchise. That doesn’t mean that everything went well, which is the topic for discussion to see how the experience can be overall different.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk about Infamous: Second Sons”

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