in Gaming: The Illusion of Choice
Another repost from the older blog. However, this is the last one! (I didn’t work on the other one for too long.) Original publish date is May 28, 2009.
I have not played inFamous, so I will not comment on that game specifically though from this comic that Ctrl-Alt-Del put out it seems that this game is just another cookie-cutter binary game. You can either be good or evil and that’s all.
Again, I can’t comment on inFamous so let’s start with the first game in my memory to do this: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The game was epic and I loved it. It was one of the first games that I played that allowed me to be good or evil. Also, in a lot of cases there were somewhat neutral choices too. However, the good or evil choices were the most viable options due to the reward.
Another game along this vein is Fable. Fable came out and had a binary morality system that made you look good or evil. Aside from this and several other minor details, the good/evil aspect of the game played very little role in the story. Still, it was good to see games begin to play around with this idea (KOTOR in 2003 and Fable in 2004). Now, about 4 year later we have games like Bioshock (2007), Fable 2 (2008), and the depicted inFamous.
Perhaps I’m missing some great games, but it seems to me like all the games getting lots of publicity that boast a morality system have a very simple binary one. Every choice you make is either amazingly good or amazingly evil. There is no in between. Some games teased at greater complexity. Neverwinter Nights and Oblivion come to mind, although sometimes it was more of unintentional I think.
I want games to actually become more complex. It doesn’t have to be completely infinitely complex immediately. For example, let’s start with 3 choices. A good, a bad, and a neutral one. Then add a fourth line. Then a fifth. Eventually you’ll have an intricate set of choices and consequences that have been refined over many iterations.
Thinking back to my previous post about photorealism, I feel like once the “realism” limit is reached, the necessity for more gimmicks will lead to more complex decision-consequence relationships. It’s kinda sad that it requires that sort of impetus, but hey, whatever it takes, right? Though if it comes sooner than later, I wouldn’t complain!