The Big Question: Good Or Evil?

I still don't think video games have ever done a great job of creating a 'moral' framework. You know the kind of thing I'm talking about — are you going to be good or evil? Are you going to be a paragon or a rogue. It's all still a little bit black and white. But in video games, if you're offered a choice — which way do you go?

In the Mass Effect games I always asked myself one question: what would Jack Bauer do? If Jack Bauer would choose to beat the shit out of a snotty reporter, I'd do it. If Jack Bauer would have have chosen to rescue this person, or throw this person out of a window, that's generally what I would have done. My theory was that saving the universe was a task that required a certain amount of moral murkiness.

So I always end up being somewhere in between. How about you?


    I always go good in the stories, and go "damn that would be so good" when the evil options show up, so i save that for my 2nd run through.

    I always go good, and agonise over each character I can't save.
    I'm a dickhead.

      Im with you. during my second playthrough of bioshock I was going to be evil.............I just could not kill the poor little girls. I also try so hard to please everyone in the game, which is odd cause in real life I have a reputation of being a little over ruthless in my business dealings.......

    I'm annoyingly good at these games when it comes to the matters of life and death. It just feels really wrong the few times I've tried an evil playthrough of things (e.g. Fable).

    Still punched the reporter in Mass Effect, though.

    I think the question is more "Do I want the good or bad ending?", or "Do I want this ultra power or this one?", or even "Do I want to do these quests or those ones?". Tying "moral" choices to in game benefits or game outcomes kind of destroys any kind of moral dilemma it's trying to create.

    Good first play through, and if theres a second, Evil, or if there's the option to just be cynical jerk, then that.

      They need more options like that. The games are always so honest. If the game says it'll give you 8g for completing the quest it will, so there's no need for a 'I don't trust you, give me half now half later' option. There's rarely a chance to go '[Lie] I'll totally help you kill rats'. You can say you'll do it and then not do it, but the game still takes saying you'll do it as a sign that you're 100% going to do it as soon as you can.
      Where are the sarcastic options? I can be evil but I can't be a patronising douchebag. Imagine a dialogue tree made entirely of slight variations on 'meh'. I want a Fallout game where I can be smug and talk down to everyone I encounter. I don't want to be feared because I kill townsfolk I want to be dreaded because I'm such a ridiculous tool that nobody can stand to be around me. =P

        I actually designed an eight way morality system when I was at Uni studying this from a media analysis perspective.

        It included "douchebag" (or as I actually labelled it, Deliberately Misleading).

        I personally want one where I can be so good it hurts - a pretentious, condescending prick of a character that shoves their morality down the throats of everybody else. So all the NPCs are like "This guy sucks, but he is a good person, but I still want to rip his tongue out".

          Heh, I can just imagine a three part trilogy ending with the entire universe being saved by Bono from U2. The credits roll to collective sigh of 'why did it have to be him of all people'. I'd love to see a game that was flexible enough to play with a What Would Sterling Archer Do mentality. A totally self centered jerk who is constantly messing with everyone around him, who refuses to take anything seriously, but also just happens to be amazingly good at the parts he enjoys. I have no idea how you'd do it. It'd be the dialogue equivalent of Little Big Planet.

    Dumb jokes aside, now that I stop and think about it I'm not sure I've even played any games with the whole good/evil thing. I assume I just play good? I really have no idea.

      It's because you only play Nintendo games! JOIN THE AAA REVOLUTION HEGEMONY.

        AAA? More like EHH :P

        Can't even think of any 360 or PC games I've played that fit into the question. I guess maybe The Sims, and whether you trap them in a room with no doors or not? The only games people seem to mention in here are Fallout, Star Wars and Mass Effect.

        Waaaait a sec. Those are all kind of RPGs aren't they? Well there's the problem right there :P

    I lean towards good simply because the evil options rarely feel like they fit into the conversation. The options in Knights of the Old Republic were always 'someone has asked you for directions - [Light] Help them out, [Neutral] Just keep walking, [Dark] Follow them home and kill a box of puppies on their lawn'. I'm all for playing as a maniac but it needs to feel in-character.
    That's why I always liked Mass Effect's morality. It was basically a choice between what sort of hero you want to be. While it limited the core of your character it also made every choice you made a thousand times stronger. You could blend the good and bad options together without your character feeling like it had split personalities. I was nicer to some groups than others. Generally I didn't give the Krogans an inch but it was more like being stern than being evil. I never conflicted with the way I treat everyone else or the way I treat specific Krogans.

      and didn't Kotor going into details about how Sith truly act?

        At least KOTOR2 was a lot more nuanced and its relationships a lot more complicated than 'do good thing, get good thing'.

          That's why I liked Kreia. She made the whole game gray and every time you thought you had her with a good reason for your good actions she had a rebuttal you couldn't argue against.

    Good. Most games can't create a world in which the evil option makes sense within the context of the world. Just evil for the sake of evil.

    But really, why should there be a black and white world? It's what always bugged me about Mass Effect. Paragon and Renegade aren't black and white good and evil, which is what the first game understood. But in 2 and 3 all choices were being a nun or a shithead.

    It's why Fallout New Vegas is better than Fallout 3. All choices sound reasonable (except the Romans). Only mission that stood out for me in Fallout 3 was that hotel where being good resulted in a worse turn out.

      Just evil for the sake of evil.

      Yeah. It's like you have the normal conversation which is totally neutral then you get to the end and just have the option to kill them for the hell of it. On paper it looks close enough to a Darth Vader moment but it lacks any sort of tension or intimidation. The guy doesn't squirm while he talks to you because your character is just as likely to be nice.

    I usually don't have a set good or evil mindset. I pick the option that best suits the situation for me.

    This is why I loved KOTOR

    Usually first play through as good, then play again and be evil

    great game .. miss it .....

    I would like a game where you might play evil or more importantly selfish and there is no repercussions at all. It would add a moral dilemma to the outcome. If there is no punishment and we get a benefit out of it, why wouldn't we do something terrible?

    Evil, almost exclusively. I feel like evil is the more believable response, as opposed to the unbelievable 'good' person. It's likely just me, but I see a good person (at least how most games choose to represent them) and think, no way anyone could be that good.

    Also, you usually get to just do whatever the hell you want when you're evil, which is a lot more fun.

    But like @serrels said, it's probably more to do with the fact a true moral compass is hard to represent in game. Most ingame decisions are just black and white when it comes down to the mechanics.

    I really try to played a mixed role. I love Mass Effect, but I think that having a stat based on how good or evil you are narrows the way you make decisions.
    The Witcher 2, for all it's problems, did this very well. It let you see consequence without additional pressure to choose one way or the other. The Walking Dead games have also been good at offering choices without there being a 'right' one.

    I generally go mostly good, but with one or two 'evil' options delivered by my character.


      me too. I try to pick what I reckon I would do in that situation, I like to think it's usually good, but then sometimes, the 'evil' option is just how I might react in the particular situation...

    I usually be evil because I find it more interesting. Although I try and be evil in a way that isn't jerk for the sake of jerk-ness.

    That said, a Dark Side Jedi in SWTOR was pretty darn great.

    good on the first play through then total raging evil douche on the second.

    I'm with Serrels, I like to play around in the moral grey area, and act depending on the situation.
    Unfortunately, most games have some rewards tied to going one way or the other, so occasionally I must sway towards a desired requirement.

    I try to pick the choices I think I'd make if I was really in the situation. usually it means its the good choice (I'm such a pussy :P ), but sometimes its bad (good ppl can do bad things under pressure :S )! Result is most of my role playing characters end up closer to the middle of the good v evil specturm over all.

      for sure, this is how I do it too, but I think overall I end up leaning more towards good...

      But then I do the next playthrough being mostly evil, or just the opposite of what I did the first time around.

        Its all about role play, amirite?

        All I know is I really am Comander Shepard, and Tali really does love me IN REAL LIFE!!!

    Most games want an all or nothing approach from the player, so the incentive to actually make each choice goes out the window after you decide what sort of playthrough you're going to do.

    Good in single player, bandit online

    Generally my first run through I will go with whatever choice I feel is right, rather than trying to min.max a morality system. Can often depend on which character I'm playing. But a first run is generally a 'good' run

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