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Morality compatibility

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Of course the OP was asking about games having 'compatible' morality and the effects of not being compatible , but do we yet even have the ability to  handle anything more than a prefabricated (staged) 'act' (the player is allowed to do) and a corresponding completely choreographed response/reaction?

 

Yes, but only if we are willing to peek behind the curtain, and analyze what makes morals moral. If "Morals" only refer to remembered morals, as socially agreed upon in the real world, then only those pre-set morals that have already been identified and classified as morals are allowed to be in the set of all morals. So there can be no further development or engineering.

 

What are the component pieces that make up morals? Why is one action "moral" and another action "immoral"? In our culture, murder and racism is considered immoral. But in video games, murder and racism are normal behaviors of a player.

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Age of Conan implemented an "outlaw" status; if the player committed game-defined crimes, their access to NPC vendors changed, city guards would attack them on site, and other PvP players were awarded prizes for slaying them. The PvP players who performed those game-defined crimes screamed bloody murder on the forums, saying they didn't want to be penalized for playing the game their way. The outlaw status then went through a few patch changes and modifications.

 

Space Rangers 2 also has an outlaw status of a sort, in that the player may choose the life of a pirate wherein they rob and pillage civilian space ships. But the consequences are light, with police not particularly threatening, and the ability to buy off most politicians quickly and easily, and benefits of access to pirate bases.

Edited by AngleWyrm

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Racism being normal ...

 

Trying to think of a game where its not wrapped into the normal 'slaughter everyone on that side'. with no particular actions expressing racism overtly

 

In some places in the world  its perfectly acceptable to kill members of 'that tribe' or ethnic group (is that racism when you are killing them because they are 'the enemy' )     also the religionism (sectarianism) similarly

 

Lord of The RIngs -- the heroes there could probably  all say 'the only good Orc is a dead Orc"

 

 

Now the whole outside goals of the confict  may originate in racism  ("we are the superior race and we deserve to rule them and any who dont like it and resist we should kill...")       But players arent given a chance to modify the whole setting of the game to change that.

 

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I recall in Ultima Online they had 'red' marked characters (killers of NPCs or Players) who would be attacked by guards in town, but it was so easy to have a seperate 'gopher' char to do everything in town you needed so it wasnt such a great penalty.  Also getting away was very easy allowing chronic ambushes of newbies by griefers and them running if anyone 'hunting a red' turned up .  They (the company) eventually spilt the entire world into 2 near  duplicate maps with one being no PVP at all allowed (before that heavy handed change, they tried  some very byzantine rules dealing with when you turned 'red' and how long it lasted  and such -- which never stopped the mentally ill newbie killers from getting their jollies.).

 

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As for morals being implemented variably (different from our normal society or also different from place to place within the game) then the player has to figure out how far they can go (or what is acceptable0.  Some places where it might be as limited as simply insulting someone leads to them wanting to kill you and places where there is also  noone to stop them from carrying it out.  That still calls for alot more complex/detailed social interactions than we normally get  (without it being a staged/choregraphed scene you are led thru by the nose).

 

Imagine a social etiquette tutorial (or series of them)  players would have to be given to understand some exotic society, particularly if repercussions in the game are costly to the player for breaches of  'expected'  behavior.

Edited by wodinoneeye

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As far as implementing morality, etiquette, laws, etc. in a game go, there are several possibilities:

  1. It is possible for the player to choose to follow or break convention at any time, but the consequences are either immediate or minor.
  2. Obeying social convention (or not) becomes the central focus of the game. If your system of etiquette/morality has any complexity or consequence to it, this is almost inevitable.
  3. The player is given one or more branches in the plot where they can make a moral choice. All the big games these days have this, and it's fashionable for the game to stay nominally neutral on the choice.
  4. The player is given some freedom, but they are forced to break the rules when the game tells them to. Some games resort to misrepresenting what the player is actually doing to make them go along with it. This never works after the first playthrough, and it's arguably more to explain the character's actions than the player's. Despite the fact that this is clearly coercive, it's probably the best way to make to make the player feel guilty about their actions.
  5. The player is made to break with convention only at certain points in the plot without any choice, and without initiating it (like in a cutscene). Only do this if the PC is under mind control or otherwise forced to.
  6. The issue of the PC actually having to consciously follow unfamiliar rules is completely ignored. If the PC has been living in your society for years, that society's mores and conventions should be ingrained in their minds, and they should be following them automatically. I think it would be more fitting and less frustrating if the player didn't need to think about them either.
  7. NPCs will follow or break convention but the player has no choice.
  8. Characters in the game fuss about having to follow convention, but this is as far as the issue is taken.

There are probably more that I didn't think of (I sure seem to like to itemize things, don't I).

 

One thing I thought of while writing this was, don't MUDs, MMOs and the like usually have taboos and obligations that are alien to the greater world? I mean, most of this happens because of the idiosyncrasies and relationships of the players, but there's probably some way to engineer it. Maybe by appealing (or advertising) to specific groups who you know will behave certain ways (when brought together), and by using the mechanics to encourage behaviors.

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is that racism when you are killing them because they are 'the enemy'
My definition of racism is a strong correlation between racial differences and enemy status. If the player can say "it's an alien, therefore it's an enemy" then I see that as a case of racism. In XCOM:Enemy Unknown, the player kills anyone who is an alien. But in Starcraft, it's insufficient to make a snap judgement that all Zerg must die.
Edited by AngleWyrm

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