Moral choices in video games have only grown as a trend over the years. There used to be a time when nobody cared about the ethics of Mario jumping on anthropomorphic turtles or the potential to cause a pileup by leading a large frog 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 narratives, video games have become greater engines for generating empathy and guilt.
Talented game writers use these emotions to challenge players 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.
After an already less-than-ideal journey through post-apocalyptic America, life kicks the hero Lee Everett in the gut one last time. It turns out your character is destined to turn into a zombie whether or not you chose to hack off his bite-infected arm earlier. The player has one final decision to determine his fate: does he join the walking dead or ask his young charge Clem end his life.
It's a harrowing task for a little girl to undertake, but it's also a valuable parting lesson that to survive in the grim reality of the Walking Dead games, there will be tough choices to make.
Sacrificing Chloe to Save the Town in 'Life is Strange'
After spending five episodes amongst the good people of Arcadia Bay making emotional connections and using your unique gifts to help solve their problems, you're forced to choose whether or not to save the town from peril. To do so means going back in time and un-doing the incredibly brave and awesome rescue of your BFF from the hands of a killer you performed at the beginning of the game, though.
What should you do? A wise Vulcan once said, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." That's easy for Spock to say though. He'd never sacrifice his precious Kirk to save a bunch of Oregon townies.
It's a long, convoluted story, but the protagonist of Fallout 4 eventually reunites with his long-lost son, who is now older than he is (again, long story) and the leader of an arguably evil faction of synths and their makers. The player can then go the sentimental route and join up with junior or lead another faction against him, burning all that his son has worked for to the ground. Aggressive players also have the option of taking their son out directly, but whatever the player chooses, his son dies anyway because he has incurable cancer, which is pretty messed up in and of itself.
In Mass Effect, the Krogans are a particularly nasty and durable species known for decimating planets and reproducing at a whopping 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 device 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 take out your good buddy Mordin in cold blood. Moralists will say the choice is clear, but moralists might sing a different tune once they're faced with an intergalactic Krogan dictatorship.