Gaming Out The Limits Of Morality

Christian Brown showcases videogames that challenge the conception of winning at all costs, such as Spec Ops: The Line:

[A]s the game progresses, generic Arab bad guys are replaced with American soldiers and sometimes civilians. The load screens — most commonly seen after the player dies — explicitly question the values of the player. “DO YOU FEEL LIKE A HERO YET?” they ask, as you wait to jump back in and shoot dozens more digital soldiers. One’s motives for playing the game are openly called into question: The decision to keep playing instead of walking away from the game is likened directly to the in-game character’s refusal to give up on his mission and stop killing. Many players (me included) quit the game in disgust at a certain point, when you drop white phosphorous mortars onto civilians being evacuated from Dubai in order to keep playing.

In an interview with Polygon, Walt Williams, who designed Spec Ops: The Line, said, “This is where the characters have to look at the consequences of their actions and say: ‘Should we have gone further? Should we have left? Should we leave now? Is it right to keep going?’ …  And if the player is thinking about seriously putting down the controller at this point, then that’s exactly where we want them to be emotionally.”