Moral Choices in Games

Just finished playing SOMA.  Was a nice game.

I liked the story, will try not to spoil anything.  Familiar themes for a sci-fi story, but being able to have agency in the story unlike reading a novel was nice.

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A big thing I ended up liking was that the moral choices don’t affect the big picture.  I’m not saying it should always be like this, and at first I was disappointed that there were no different endings to chase by doing a replay (Or are there? It could be too early to say).  What I realized though, was that when moral choices do give you different endings, it’s hard to fight the urge to look up what sort of endings you’ll get, and tailor your choices to that sort of ending.

Here, it doesn’t matter what choice you make.  You’re free to do what you really want to do, without having to worry that you’re not going to receive the right ending cutscene.  I admit there weren’t THAT many choices to be made, but it wasn’t a 90 hour RPG.  It was a nice touch to have in a game like this.

I killed the big robot, btw

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Because of the setting, a lot of it feels morally gray and it’s an uncomfortable feeling.  What do we have to show compassion for?  What qualifies as something that needs to be respected as more than just an object?  It brings up the old question of what it means to be alive (literally, brought up in conversation) and gives what I think is the right answer, at least for now; we dunno.

Sure we can give a textbook definition of what’s alive, but no textbook I remember covers at what point artificial intelligence in silicon should be respected as an individual.  Even with the living things we have already, it’s a bit of a gray area what we can kill and what we need to respect.  Why is it off limits to eat a dog (in some places, at least) but it’s alright to slaughter endless cows, pigs, and chicken?  Is the dog more intelligent?  Who drew that line?  People get absolutely rabid at the thought of people eating dogs.  Somehow I doubt they’d mind, to the same extent, a few wolves or dingos getting eaten.

When AIs are a thing, I really wonder how society will handle it.  Not much hope for a sequel to this, at any rate.

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