Is it just me, or have you guys noticed that gaming is saturated with vapid, sociopathic murder simulators?
I don't just mean your calls of duty and your halves of lives, either -- civillization, kings bounty, combat mission, galactic civillization, baldur's gate... Videogames are, by and large, all morally bankrupt. There are a couple of exceptions, and i'll come back to them, but most games, especially (and most offensively) those with so called 'choices and consequences' seem to do their best NOT to edify about morality in any meaningful way.
The average, elemental videogame, one could say, is actually inherently immoral. I speculate that this stems from the dungeons and dragons shoot and loot rule systems that most gaming derives from... But I don't really know.
Oldschool scoring systems, modern xp based reward systems, and plain old compulsive completionism all encourage the player to scour any level or region for enemies to kill, rivals to eliminate, and equipment to gather. The accruement of resources without regard for anyone else is every player's second priority, and the destruction of anybody who isn't on the player's team is priority #1. And I haven't played very many games, even games that ostensibly ought to say something about morality or human responsibility (i'm looking at mass effect, fallout, civillization) which differ from this structure at all.
While a lack of morals certainly shouldn't limit a game's ability to be just plain fun, it seems like a gigantic and a somewhat disconcerting missed opportunity. Games wield huge budgets to weave elaborate simulations, with visceral writing and graphics and explosions and what have you -- why can't a game even acknowledge the human, moral implications of your actions?
I don't mean a cutesy, dark humor nod to suffering like you see in Fallout -- I mean an actual, edifying investigation of the player's impact on the world? Or, hell, an even edifying investigation of the VILLIAN's impact on the world? And games that claim to feature moral choices -- elder scrolls, mass effect, and the other mainstream rpgs -- are perhaps the most offensive about this. They boil down a moral choice to a loot reward and maybe a cool cutscene, with no room for thoughtful investigation into the meaning or consequences of the action.
There certainly a few games that addressed morality in interesting ways, but I, personally, can only think of one that jumps out at me --
Deus ex, actually -- and I think this contributed to its success -- is a strongly edifying, moral game. Discussion of the use of power, the presence of power, and implications -- even if they're as little as a scornful dialogue quip -- to your actions go a long way. Just acknowledging that the immense power jc denton wields comes with a little responsibility is a big step above what I see in most games.
Bioshock, I guess, attempted to investigate this kind of thing too, even if it was in a largely non-interactive way, but I think it fell pretty flat.
So why don't you think more games address morality or human suffering in more upfront ways? Have you played any games you saw as strongly moralistic? Bear in mind just having characters who clearly have moral intentions doesn't necessarily make your game morally edifying -- doomguy just wants to save the world, but doom still deftly avoided any potential questions about the nature of heroism or sacrifice.