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Vancouver IGS May 16, 2007

Posted by joshg in General.
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Just a quick note to any who may be interested but aren’t checking both blogs I’m writing here, I wrote up a quick summary of my favorite parts of the Vancouver International Game Summit that happened a couple weeks ago.

I should probably just combine the two blogs at some point. I had it in my head to keep this blog specific to the theme and put general game design thoughts elsewhere. But since I post to the game design blog even less frequently than here I’m not sure how much anyone would even notice the change.


Hocking interview explores moral choice May 14, 2007

Posted by joshg in mainstream games, morality & ethics.
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Gamasutra interviews Clint Hocking, mostly discussing the motivator of exploration within games but they eventually get to my favorite topic:

To try and teach someone a specific set of values in games is trickier because what games ought to do, in my opinion, is present the entire space of the problem. Instead of saying, “You should be honest,” it should say, “This is what honesty means” through the mechanics. This is what happens when you tell the truth or you tell a lie–instead of trying to make a game that says “Lying is bad and honesty is good.”

That’s what literature can do by creating characters who are very rich and detailed and tell a lie and regret it for the rest of the novel and watch how their who lives fall apart. A game I don’t think should do that. A game I think should give the player all the mechanics that surround that and figure out for himself whether telling the truth or lying is right or wrong.

I’m pretty sure I agree with his insight here, despite being a little confused initially by how he distinguishes the effects of the novel and the game. Yes, the novel chooses what the character believes about the consequences of their actions – the regret is authored. A game design won’t be able to explicitly force regret or guilt for immoral actions, but this doesn’t mean a game system dealing with moral choice must (or should) be neutral in how it portrays the consequences. As he says, the designer gives the player the mechanics that surround a moral choice, and the player then has the freedom to learn what they will from those mechanics.

(a whole lot of my thoughts on this after the break) (more…)