Moral choices in video games are all the rage these days. There used to be a time when nobody gave a rat's patoot about the death of an anthropomorphic turtle beneath Mario's stomping boots, or the potential to cause a blood-soaked 5-lane pileup by making an inordinately large frog jump into traffic. That's because those horrors were just a bunch of pixels. They still are, and, granted, some games still let you do horrific things with no consequences, but with the introduction of photorealistic models, deep characterization, and real-world values into video game narratives, guilt has been born of the prospect of mowing down NPCs with an uzi.
Talented game writers use this guilt to entertain the player with interesting and complex moral quandaries during the course of gameplay. This is entertainment value that can only be mined by the game industry, as no other medium gives control of a character's decisions to the consumer in quite the same way. No other medium can make the consumer feel the weight of a character's decisions quite so heavily.
For your consideration is a list of some of the video game moral dilemmas that most made players tear their hair out, wavering back and forth while staring at a 'Pause' screen. Now it is up to you to upvote the ones you feel most strongly about. You can handle it.
In Mass Effect, the Krogans are a particularly nasty and durable species known for decimating planets and reproducing at a whopping 1000-offspring-per-female-per-year rate. This all adds up to a race that could easily conquer and occupy every planet in the known universe. In fact, that's just what the Krogans started doing before the Salarians deployed the Genophage, a biological weapon that reduced Krogan birth survival to 1 out of every 1000. In Mass Effect 3, Shepard has a chance to cure the Genophage (and potentially make way for another Krogan Rebellion) or be complicit in sabotaging the cure, which also requires you to gun down your good buddy Mordin in cold blood. Moralists will say the choice is clear, but moralists might sing a different tune once they're turned out as sex slaves in the Krogan dictatorship.
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After an already less-than-ideal journey through post-apocalyptic America, life kicks the hero, Lee Everett in the crotch one last time. It turns out he's turning (into a zombie), whether or not he hacked off his own bite-infected arm earlier. So he must decide whether to join the walking dead or have little Clem put a bullet in his brain. It's a harrowing task for a little girl to undertake, but it's also a valuable parting lesson for her - to survive in this world, these are the things we now must do.
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After defeating Matriarch Benezia on Noveria, the Rachni Queen, a giant telepathic bug, is left to be dealt with. She asks for mercy from Shepard, insinuates that the violence inflicted by her species was caused by outside forces, and claims her only intention is to rebuild her species peacefully. The player can then allow her to go free, saving the Rachni species from total obliteration, or splatter that bug like it just met the windshield of a speeding semi. Can you live with the extermination of an entire sentient (albeit disgusting) species?
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While the Little Sisters of Bioshock are some ugly little buggers who spend all day harvesting ADAM from dead bodies, they're still just helpless little girls once you take down their giant protectors. So what do you do with them? In a show of true devilish manipulation, the game rewards you with twice the amount of ADAM if you kill them. But, if you do the right thing and save the sisters from the hold of their sea slugs, Tenenbaum will reward you with gifts, and you'll get the extra happy ending of escaping rapture with all of them. You also get to, you know, NOT kill a little girl! What's wrong with you??
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