Video Games and Morality: Do In-Game Choices Ever Make You Question Your Morals?

Has there been a game that ever made you question yourself? Question the choices you made throughout the game or at a certain point? Personally, I never had to question myself until recently, which made me wonder if someone else ever faced the same dilemma.

When I started gaming a couple of decades ago, I never thought about how Goomba’s family would feel after I stomp him to death. Moving to PlayStation, killing became a norm, slicing throats in Splinter Cell was being done just for the sake of fun even though I could have just sneak past the enemies.

Over the years, many games offered some hard moral choices and not once did I thought twice about it, and went with the one that satisfied me the most. And of course, I have made some questionable decisions, especially, in The Waling Dead.

Games follow a script and deliberately put you in a position to challenge your morals. Such games aim to tell a strong story and the presented choices are black or white. The stories some games tell stick with you for years but choices I made never bothered me as a person.

To me, they are choices and decisions made by that one particular character even though I was in control. I consider them to be the moral challenge for that character and not for me, so as a person I never immediately thought to myself ‘how could I do this?.’

However, even to a person like me (probably dead, morally), This War of Mine was a hard game to play. It is a strong game and acts of violence have a profound impact on the character. Your character will become depressed and will feel guilty and seeing your character actually reacting to the choices he made has an impact on the player as well.

Which is why this one game made me question my choices for the very first time. Was it OK to steal food from an elderly couple and leaving them to die? Probably not but it was a choice harder than shooting someone in the head in Call of Duty. This War of Mine is very different from your every day genocide-happy game where you play as a trigger-happy soldier. It doesn’t tell you that War is bad every five minutes, it is a slow journey through the depths of hell, challenging your morality to its limits in every step of the way.

Situations such as a soldier trying to rape a woman, a bandit sniping random people on the street for loot, a brothel where women are working for thugs “for a can of food” leave a lasting impact.

The reality showed within this fictional world is scary. It is not “press F to feel bad” but rather a game where you know that your decisions will have a major impact, not only on your character but on you too. This one game took me back to a number of the decisions I made; was it OK to kill the drug dealer in Heavy Rain during the Shark trial? Was it OK to hand women over to Stalkers in Dishonored?

This War of Mine is a “what kind of a human you are” simulation. But of course, its effects wore off and I was back to shooting enemies in the balls in Sniper Elite 4 within a day.

Is there a video game that made you question yourself? Which game had a deep emotional impact? Let’s discuss in the comments below.