Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ethics and Morality in Games

The motivation for creating the second game, The Great Desert, on Arcane Journeys, was the question, "Can you have a game without fighting other humans or fighting anything at all, with positive moral values, instead of more traditional "values" of greediness and selfishness, and still have it be fun?"

What if you are trying to create art from junk, and bring tranquility into the world by meditating? Would people be drawn in? The answer was yes. People find the game interesting, and they don't even stop to question the positive values as out of place.

For many years afterwords, whenever one friend who played it a lot saw artists creating art from cast off materials would say, "There go people creating art from junk again." Another person had dreams about feeding her people as they wandered in the desert.

Also, in the first Arcane Journeys game, The Well, I decided to have you collect gold not for yourself, but to buy supplies for your tribe, since that was more ethically in line with my values. It also doesn't seem out of place or less fun to the players.

Deciding to have more positive moral values in games has been a great ongoing experiment, and forces me to really think about the influence any piece of art might have on the culture and society. I decided that even if what I did was just a drop in the bucket, I didn't want to give up the chance to add the drop.

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