Moral Compass: 4 games that will test your morality

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Every action has a consequence. Whether the action is good or bad, there will always be a result. That's just the way the cookie crumbles and make no mistake about it, the cookie does crumble. 

Despite some of the unpopular opinions of games, they aren't just pixels enacting violence or any other mindless acts. Games actually touch on very real, and at times very serious, subjects. They test intelligence, endurance, attention span, and most recently, the morality of the player. 

While games have typically stuck to a linear story-line with one determined ending, the increased interest in political and social topics have creators addressing such things in the virtual world. 

If you're ever in doubt of your morals, try these 4 titles that will put your ethics to the test.

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inFamous

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: PS3, PS4  and Playstation Now

The game may be titled inFamous, but make no mistake about it - it is a popular title and one that has made the morality system a part of regular gameplay. 

In the game you play as a character with super powers. The central theme asks how would you use your powers? For good or for evil?

At every turn in the game, you are presented with a choice that will decide the next move in gameplay, as well as your status as either the hero or the infamous. Even though this is a common element in all the inFamous titles, respectively they are their own games.

Mass Effect

Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios and EA
Platforms: Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U 

What good is being forced to choose when the end turns out to be the same? Well you won't see that in Mass Effect as your choices certainly do have an impact. 

The morality system in this game series is much similar to that of inFamous, but you are given many more options. The game foregoes the hero and infamous titles in favor of paragon and renegade, which are measured exclusively. Essentially this means the points that you gain towards being a renegade or vice versa do not negate the points you've already racked up towards the opposite measuring stick. 

Mass Effect, in a way, is much more similar to real life morality, as there is a grey area that can be achieved - meaning that you are neither purely good nor wholly evil. Instead you can achieve something of a morally rounded disposition.

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Dragon Age

Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and OS X

Dragon Age as a series certainly has one of the most unique systems when it comes to karma and choices. There is no real measure of good and evil, instead there is a measurement of approval that both shows your leadership ability as well as your morals. 

The game focuses on independent opinion instead of an overall view. If you're not familiar with Dragon Age, then it is likely you are unaware that you travel with a party of people. Each party member has an independent approval rating of you that can range from -100 to +100.

High approval ratings due to admiration can lead to increased character stats for the party member in question, while low approval ratings from distrust can lead to the party member abandoning you. 

Much like Mass Effect, Dragon Age allows for something of a grey area. Instead of choosing a good or evil option, you can simply distance yourself from the black-and-white decision-making and choose more intellectually and emotionally driven decisions based on personal interactions - making the experience that much more realistic.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Developer: BioWare, Obsidian Entertainment and Aspyr Meida
Publisher: Lucas Arts and EA
Platforms: Xbox, Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iPhone, iPad

If you look up video game player's favorite games featuring a moral system, you'll find KOTOR at the top of the list. 

The game blatantly gives you the option of playing on the side of good or side evil; classic Light Side versus the Dark Side. However, despite the blatancy, KOTOR gets rid of the black-and-white tropes and chooses to humanize those on the side of evil, obscuring the dividing line between the two sides. 

Either way, your dialogue choices as Jedi determines whether you would ultimately be a Jedi Knight or a corrupt Sith Lord.

Because the game is one of the earlier tries in morality systems, it does somewhat fail in the art of subtlety, as your choices are fairly obvious in the yielded results - while other games really make you sit and think about what you're about to say. 

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Well, the moral of the story really depends on you but the question is: what do you think of games with morality systems? Would you like to see more of it in future games, or does worrying about consequences ruin the fun of gaming?

Published Jun. 25th 2015

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