Gaming has been such a rich experience for me, and my life has been better for it. There are so many wonderful worlds in my head created by game developers and shared with my family and friends.
But just like my moral objection to vengeance-fueled thrillers that play on people’s worst desire for vigilante justice, I don’t like useless gratuitous violence in video games. It’s polluted the space that should be filled with wit and creativity. I realize this places me outside the typical gamer demographic, and reduces my street cred. Whatever. It also makes it nearly impossible to indulge in gaming without some compromise.
Fallout New Vegas is rated M (Mature). I decided to let Reiley play it along with me. The following logic was utilized:
- Shared experiences are the best learning environment possible, and provide a way for a parent to teach morality lessons without sounding preachy.
- The game provides a wealth of these morality choices. Do you trust everyone at first, or assume a defensive posture to protect yourself? How do you know when someone is being truthful? Do you exact revenge on those who betray you or commit atrocities? If so, how far do you go? What are your rules about innocent victims in harm’s way? How much effort do you put into helping them? How much assistance do you ask from others willing to help you? etc. You don’t get these kind of philosophical challenges from any non-interactive entertainment.
- The game was designed so that it could be completed using a stealthful pacifict approach. How far can a pacifist approach be taken effectively? How much harm do you allow to yourself and others before changing tactics?
- The world of Fallout New Vegas is rich and detailed with many different environments. But in the end, when all is said and done, a large part of the game is played as a violent first-person-shooter. Let’s be honest: that’s not really a healthy moral environment (apologies to just about every gamer out there, but it’s true). Mom got sick of the excuses and finally declared “no head shots”. :>
As an avid gamer, sometimes rationalization gets the better of me when it comes to tolerance of useless video game violence. But the sea is wide and full of adventure; don’t assume you have to leave your morality at the arcade entrance, there is a wealth of choices out there. Game on with your passions in place, my friends. :>
More notes… the first Fallout came out in 1997 (just a little behind Reiley), and contained tons of the elements in the latest incarnation, including S.P.E.C.I.A.L. character attributes, lockpicking, traits and perks, addictive stimulants, Karma, multiple quests, recruitable NPCs, and tons of morality choices. What a classic.
On the other hand, the Fallout New Vegas rabbit hole is nearly bottomless……