Monthly Archives: January 2013

Mass Effect: The rise and fall (and rise, and fall, and …) of the krogan.

Morality can be a difficult thing for a video game to accurately portray. Usually, the designers opt for a binary choice system – at each point where a person might make a decision, they can go the good guy route or the badass route. Obviously a binary system isn’t the most accurate way to portray a moral quandary, but the questions that games pose can sometimes be surprisingly sophisticated, without easy answers

Mass Effect is a three part space epic, where you, Commander Shepard, are faced with the dilemma of what kind of person you are going to be while you fight to save the galaxy. The ethics system of Mass Effect is very binary – many of the things you say or do give you points towards either the “Paragon” or “Renegade” ends of the moral spectrum. Generally, these seem more like personality decisions rather than true moral quandaries – are you going to be the kind of person that people generally want to be around, or are you going to be an asshole who makes life unpleasant for other people? Either way, being a Paragon won’t stop you from gunning down your enemies with ruthless efficiency, and being a Renegade just means that you’ll be a jerk as well as a galaxy-saving hero. However, sometimes Mass Effect poses very interesting questions even within the bounds of its otherwise artificial moral choice paradigm.

This is how morality works.

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