Why Don't We Feel Guilty In Video Games?

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Because it's just a game? People don't want to play games that make them feel bad? Maybe we are all soulless bastards that just like killing random people for fun?

For the last 20 years designers have toyed with the idea of culpability and consequence, of getting players to consider their actions in moral terms. Fallout 3 had its karma system, which rated player actions as good or evil, affecting their reputations with any non-player characters they met. Bioshock famously provided us with a choice of whether to harvest or rescue the little sisters. And Mass Effect judged actions on a dual system which shaped lead character Commander Shepard as a “Paragon” or a “Renegade”. These systems are all flawed of course – morality is not a binary paradigm – but they at least attempted to frame player actions in a way that wasn’t purely systematic.
 

Ur_Mom

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Because it's not real.

Although, Walking Dead is supposed to be a good one that tests that...

If you're feeling violent, guilty or whatever in a game, you need to step back. Yes, some can be the mood, and it's similar to movies. You feel bad for the characters. But, if you feel bad because you're doing something in game? Step back. It's just a fantasy. It's a game. It's not real.
 

cthulhuiscool

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Ducman69

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Won't someone PLEASE think of the pixels.



That said, who gives a crap about morals, it is nice that your actions actually change the story-line and the way the game plays, and that is something I think everyone supports.
 

pxc

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Maybe some people can tell the differences between a game and real life. (Excluding sociopathic behavior over voice and other non-competitive ways, that is.)
 

ShamisOMally

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Because its not real.

Duh.

DONATE TO MY PATREON TODAY AS I TELL YOU HOW HUMANITY IS EVIL TO NOT CARE ABOUT FICTIONAL CHARACTERS LIKE REAL PEOPLE.
 

devil22

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it's kind of silly, but I feel bad about it. I go out of my way not to kill civilians, or things that don't threaten me, in skyrim for instance.
 

Ur_Mom

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it's kind of silly, but I feel bad about it. I go out of my way not to kill civilians, or things that don't threaten me, in skyrim for instance.

That's how it's supposed to be played, though. You aren't supposed to kill civilians. Ever play Carmaggedon? Did you cry?
 

devil22

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That's how it's supposed to be played, though. You aren't supposed to kill civilians. Ever play Carmaggedon? Did you cry?

Never played Carmaggedon. just sayin, i avoid killing non-hostiles in any game, so i'm sure others do too.
 

Shmee

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We don't feel guilty because it is not real. We understand that it is a release for our entertainment, nothing more.

That is not always true though. My first time I played through Knights of the Old Republic on the Dark Side, I felt pretty bad about some of my choices.
 

Babbster

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We don't feel guilty because it is not real. We understand that it is a release for our entertainment, nothing more.

That is not always true though. My first time I played through Knights of the Old Republic on the Dark Side, I felt pretty bad about some of my choices.
Out of all the Bioware games with the morality components, KotOR suffered the most from "puppy killing" syndrome. It was impossible to play a fully powered dark side character without making decisions that even an evil person wouldn't make.

Mission has suggested getting a pet.
Do you say..."Getting a pet would be great, Mission!" or "If you weren't useful, I'd kill you right now!"

It's hard not to feel bad when the choice is less good versus evil (one can do evil in service of a noble goal; that's how SW characters slip from light side to dark side) and more good versus raging douchebag (in service of nothing but being a jerk)..

They got a lot more sophisticated with Mass Effect by forcing players into choices that weren't necessarily obvious (perhaps most notably involving the Rachni Queen in the first game; that was an honestly tough choice [the first time through]), making renegade choices more about expedience in service of the greater good. "The galaxy is in danger and I don't have time to negotiate with you, so if you don't comply you're gonna get shot."
 

kbrickley

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I don't feel guilty but I also find some actions in games distasteful so don't have an urge to do them ... I didn't sell people into slavery and I didn't set off the nuclear weapon in fallout 3 ... There was also a quest in never winter nights to sell diseased blankets to natives to exterminate them which I didn't do ... However, I did do some of the assassin quests in oblivion (I just didn't find them very enjoyable sometimes) ... But I wouldn't be judging someone else unless their gameplay crossed into the real world
 

djsb

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I thought Mask of the Betrayer did a good job in this regard. I ended the game "acceptably", but chose to run off with my beau and explore the planescape instead of finish what I started, betraying Okku in the process. Curses, I didn't think of him! He was the one person (okay, bear god) in the entire story who didn't deserve to be screwed over in one way or another. I felt awful. Okku deserved better than me. It was enough to convince me to replay the game another time, years later, and right my terrible wrongs...
 

raglafart

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There's only one thing I can think of that works real well because of guilt and I'm thinking I should just keep that thought to myself, and no it's not something you do on your own either :eek:
 

sfsuphysics

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There are times I feel guilty in games, one game I'm trying to think of... Dragon Quest 5, you have a choice over who to marry later in the game, your long lost childhood friend, or the girl of the rich guy that you just met ... I did feel bad about not choosing the girl I grew up with as I wanted someone more feminine :D
 

pothb

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In the past, I might've said, does this really need an answer? But I've come to realize the lack of common sense. Then I saw it was a guardian article, talking about video games... and I think I'll just ignore it passed this post.
 

HockeyJon

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If you can't separate games from reality than you have a different kind of problem that you need help with.
 

Revdarian

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Only time i have felt kinda guilty was in Remember Me because i had no real choice about the outcome and the protagonist seemed to be entirely apathetic, except for maybe 1 or 2 seconds mental notes she really didn't care that she had turned someone into a terrorist about to murder hundreds of innocents.
 

Spewn

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I think it comes down to your ability to go back and change what you did. If a game ever made you feel bad enough about a choice you could just load an old save and change the outcome. If you could do that in real life you probably wouldn't feel much remorse for anything, either...or at least not for long.
 

Ur_Mom

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Never played Carmaggedon. just sayin, i avoid killing non-hostiles in any game, so i'm sure others do too.

I don't kill innocent people. I guess I did in GTA once, but I was just screwing around (and maybe Just Cause 2...). But, that's not how the game is meant to be played. Not as some psychotic lunatic.
 

crusty_juggler

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Never played Carmaggedon. just sayin, i avoid killing non-hostiles in any game, so i'm sure others do too.
Me too. I'm no bleeding heart softie or anything, but I always spare the innocent. I'll also reload saves over and over if I fail at rescuing an NPC. In games that have a moral choice, I always choose the light path.

Ironically, my favorite game from the past decade or so is GTA: SA, and I'm still excited for GTA V.
 

jiminator

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video games, where you visit peaceful areas and kill everything for the experience, visit innocents and rob/pickpocket them blind.

yeah, there is a lot lacking in games today. some consequences would be nice, but not against pixels, perhaps make a world where other players are the NPCs in your world, depending on your actions your world may become progressively shadier where you may get attacked or robbed more frequently. But even then consequences become meaningless with the current "restore save" type setup.
 

DrezKill

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I don't tend to get all torn up about blasting pixels or shooting textured and shaded polygons. I suppose if I was a mathematician and I super-loved Geometry, then maybe I would feel bad about hurting those poor polygons.
 

Hornet

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I think we don't feel guilty because these "people" we kill in video games are often not personified. For example, in a game where you can run over countless number of pedestrians, those pedestrians are often being seen as props that react in a funny way when they get hit, and they will spawn again anyway. So no one is going to miss them anyway, who cares, I'll just run over all of them.

Killing would have more of an impact if the character matters. For example, in Dragon's Dogma, towards the end there's this huge talking dragon that gives the player the opportunity of having the power to rule the kingdom but he'll have to kill that lady the character is closest with. Without second thought, I chose to fight and slay the crazy dragon. There was no way I was going to kill that person that I've spend most time helping and talking to.
 

sobe88

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Should ask that question to all those who plan on picking up the Hatred game.
 

ZLoth

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I keep reminding myself of these Dorkly Comics Videogames vs. Real Life Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Lets face it, some of the stuff that we do for fun in video games would have people questioning our sanity in real life and locking us away for our own good.
 

B00nie

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I sometimes feel bad for a noob that just can't win. I have tutored a few players voluntarily actually.
 

SockMan!

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The disassociation from role playing as someone else implicitly encourages players to not make the same moral choices as in real life. If I'm playing as a character, then I'm not playing as myself.
 

Quix

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I like how the author draws parallels between the motivations of the player and fictional characters in other mediums, that's definitely not totally insane and it doesn't make it obvious that the writer both doesn't play video games and can't make a cogent argument.
 

Dekoth-E-

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I don't feel guilt because I'm not killing anything real. I'm performing actions within a game environment that affects bits of code and nothing more. So not, I don't feel guilty killing these bits of code no matter what they try to represent. They are pixels on a screen and nothing more to me. That isn't to say I can't have my emotions pulled by excellent story telling. I have gotten emotional more than a few times over the years when an important character in stories, movies, games dies. However in games you are rarely killing someone first hand that you have a ton of invested story telling behind. Lets take Skyrim for example, I kill everything and I mean..Everything. I don't care what it is, if it moves it dies. I don't feel bad for killing the women, children, small furry animals or "innocents", I don't feel anything at all. As mentioned above, they are bits of code and those bits of code yield loot and experience. The graphical container they are represented with doesn't matter to me in the slightest.
 

greenman

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Because we're not mormons- err, I meant morons. Geez, is this a serious question?? Humanity..
 

raz-0

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Because it's not real.

Although, Walking Dead is supposed to be a good one that tests that...

If you're feeling violent, guilty or whatever in a game, you need to step back. Yes, some can be the mood, and it's similar to movies. You feel bad for the characters. But, if you feel bad because you're doing something in game? Step back. It's just a fantasy. It's a game. It's not real.

Well that's the thing. You probably should feel bad if you are doing something bad (convincingly, or reasonably so) in game. The reality is you feel about as bad as punching a cardboard stand-up of a person as you do gunning down a video game bad guy because they are about equally convincing stand ins for actual people. And you mind knows that.

The walking dead game makes you feel a bit of something because it takes about a thousand times longer developing the important characters than you get with your average video game bad guy. Then on top of it, they make your ability to control the outcome limited, but existent, so that you have developed both as sense ownership and sympathy for the characters.
 

Dr. Righteous

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Sometimes gaming is the stress beater made to order.

In the old days guys would climb to the top of the clock tower on a college campus and snipe at students to blow off some steam. But now all you have to do is load up Sniper Elite and accomplish the same thing. I prefer zombie mashing at 500 yards. :D
 

MavericK

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Spec Ops: The Line is a pretty good example (they mentioned it in passing in the article).
 
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