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jonathan7
09-04-2009, 12:39 PM
So we are all here because we love games right? This is after all a Star Wars gaming forum!

Given that computer games do get a lot of press (some bad) about their effects on the young, what philisophical points and questions do games raise?

Feel free to contribute, every so often Sabre and J7 will pick a game and discussing aspects of the philosophy it raises...

Sabretooth
09-04-2009, 12:52 PM
*clears throat*

To start, I will pick a game that is particularly not very philosophical in nature: Mirror's Edge. Also, I am an extremely lazy person, and so I will post relevant chatlogs instead of actually typing something out.

[9:55:35 PM] Sabre: Mirror's Edge takes place in an unnamed city where a totalitarian regime monitors its citizens through invasive surveillance, tracking all forms of electronic communication in order to reduce crime and quell any challenge to its power.[21] An upcoming mayoral election seeks to retain Mayor Callaghan in power to keep the government's control on the city, though a new favoured candidate Robert Pope promises to bring change. The Eurasian[22] protagonist, Faith Connors, is a "Runner", a person trained in parkour, to stay out of sight and to use rooftops and other means to help deliver physical messages between revolutionary groups within the city.[12][23] Faith along with another Runner, Celeste, were both trained by Merc who also provides radio support for the two.[24]
[Note: Wikipedia Link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror%27s_Edge)]
[9:56:34 PM] Sabre: Now the interesting part is, Yahtzee was criticising the game as usual, and he struck upon a point I agree with.
[9:57:05 PM] Sabre: Apart from the invasive surveillance and the totalitarianism, the game makes no effort to tell you why it's such a bad thing.
[9:57:24 PM] Jonathan: lol gotta love the Escapist
[9:57:29 PM] Jonathan: what did he comment on that?
[9:57:34 PM] Sabre: Instead, the city looks sparkling clean like this: http://ziiku.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/mirrors_edge_15.jpg
[9:57:57 PM] Sabre: link no worky
[9:58:13 PM] Sabre: http://www.dasgamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/mirrors_edge01.jpg
[9:58:46 PM] Sabre: The police look like honest chaps, and in fact, for all you know, the player could be carrying bombs for terrorists
[9:59:21 PM] Sabre: Which made me wonder, that it could actually be true, you can fit that angle into the story
[9:59:45 PM] Sabre: Faith could actually be working for terrorists
[10:00:05 PM] Sabre: Just something I was chewing upon
[10:03:14 PM] Sabre: Would a totalitarian regime that keeps the peace and order be preferable to an otherwise free world filled with chaos?
[10:03:42 PM] Sabre: Which is the lesser evil: North Korea, or Somalia?

Videos Relevant to Story (Story Trailers, by EA):
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Discussez.

jonathan7
09-04-2009, 01:03 PM
Firstly I would note before discussion of which "regime" is better, I would note that there has been an increasing trend within video games to be "morally ambiguous", Mirrors edge continues on that path IMHO.

As Sabre points out the PC knows nothing of the packages being carried, they are just a "runner" against a totalitarian regime which spys on everyone. Is this in itself wrong? What are the moral questions raised by running package that could theoretically be bombs?

So the question comes to which regime is preferable a North Korea style regime who seek to control everything, or a "regime" such as Somalia where everything has descended to Chaos.

This is a difficult question to answer, partly as a state such as North Korea will find it much easier to commit Genocide efficiently on the population due to organisational benefits. Where as the randomness of Somalia makes it hard to predict number of deaths. As such I think actually the generally lethality potential of the Totalitarian regime is such that I find the chaos "regime" preferable just because I think there would be a larger chance of the populationsurviving in that society than in one where you cannot say what you want, or face execution.

Sabretooth
09-04-2009, 01:15 PM
Firstly I would note before discussion of which "regime" is better, I would note that there has been an increasing trend within video games to be "morally ambiguous", Mirrors edge continues on that path IMHO.
Actually, I'd like to add the game's writer, Rhianna Pratchett (yes, his daughter) stated that she was brought into development fairly late, which is why the story doesn't feel as deep or integrated with the story as it should have. But yes, moral ambiguity et al.

As such I think actually the generally lethality potential of the Totalitarian regime is such that I find the chaos "regime" preferable just because I think there would be a larger chance of the populationsurviving in that society than in one where you cannot say what you want, or face execution.
Lethality potential sounds like a very cynical way to judge the better place to live, no? :p While it may be illegal to speak against the state, you are guaranteed absolute safety (with some really well-disciplined military) otherwise. Stay in the safe zone, and not only is the lethality potential low, it may very well disappear. And no totalitarian regime would commit genocide against citizens abiding their own laws. They can be unforgiving, maybe unreasonable, but they just don't do that, not as far as I know.

In chaos however, you're looking at anarchy. Anyone can raid your home tomorrow and get away with it, or you can be forced to bow down to the neighbourhood crime boss, who will do with you as he wishes, before he is struck down by someone else. Life is a living fight here. It's free, but in a situation where you have constantly struggle to make it to the next day alive, I don't see how freedom is really a priority over personal security.

El Sitherino
09-04-2009, 03:21 PM
While video games can't lead to violence, violence can lead to video games. It's proven fact that the same mental connections are made by the mind when comparing killing of video-game people and killing real people.
The only difference is that reality won't sink in on a person when they kill a video game character like it will when they kill a real person. Talk to someone that killed in Vietnam or Desert Storm, they'll tell you when they made a far-away shot, you didn't get a sense of the reality. It was when they saw the person, could see the unique features, they recognized it was a real person, just like them. It slowly hits them that it could have so easily been them lying there lifeless, and the guilt builds. Those lucky enough to find a way out of the emotional trap were able to reason their mind away from insanity, but many find themselves resenting their choice today. Many will vividly remember their exact thought as they pulled that triger and feel like a monster for enjoying the kill.

jrrtoken
09-04-2009, 06:46 PM
Just convert LF into an IRC channel, ffs. :xp:

IMO, there just simply aren't enough video games that are actually "deep" enough to facilitate a form of philosophical study, and the ones that actually are usually use repetitive themes (Classic Orwellian Dystopia™, Man vs. Machine, etc.). Not to say that video games can't facilitate more thought-provoking narratives; they most certainly have the ability just like any other medium, but unfortunately, it's a rare sight to see such a game.

Pho3nix
09-04-2009, 08:47 PM
Just convert LF into an IRC channel, ffs. :xp:
No can do, for some reason Skype is teh cool for these guys

Darth Avlectus
09-04-2009, 10:31 PM
I have a couple, or rather a single game and a franchise...

Odyssey: Legend of nemesis (http://www.paranoidproductions.com/odyssey/index.html)
Mac platform, fair warning.

The story line is its main attraction, though I kind of don't mind the game engine and graphics albeit needing improvement...not too bad for a 1996 RPG game though...

The story line has got to be one of the most real stories I've ever experienced--despite the involvement of magics and such. A few parts I found rather disagreeable. Real in the sense that there were no completely happy endings to any event you encounter in the game. Engaging for theists and atheists alike.

It raised a few questions for me:
What makes people turn from one extreme to another; good to bad; generous to selfish; arrogant to humble; disingenuous to genuine?
Is intent our ultimate weapon? So often it is wielded. Seems like clumsy but capable do things with good intentions and they end up badly or vice versa is true I suppose.
What is the line separating good and bad? ...I don't think I need go into detail as its rhetoric implies much.
Is self interest ultimately our motivation for things? I'd like to think not but people have shown me that self interest can somehow be inevitably attached to motive.

I reviewed it here--though possibly misleadingly now that this thread has come up...Hadn't thought of it before now when asked about it. ;)
http://www.lucasforums.com/showthread.php?t=199783
(might also be interesting to see your guys' reviews of other games here.)

The other is the canonical story of the megaman franchise of games. It has a rather minimal and simplistic story, if becoming implicit a little later on.
I speak of these series:
Original series
X series
Zero Series
Legends series

Interestingly the storyline spanning these series encompasses elements of both evolution and creation. There is even a point raised about ethics and integrity.

Questions raised:
Is it truly possible to be happy without pain and suffering?
Is a cold sterile life without these things truly worth living?
Though logic may be undeniable, why in the human element, does emotion enhanced life seem to persist and prevail?
What is corruption? What determines if a "foundation" of sorts will survive or die?
Do we ultimately bring our pain and dread upon ourselves?

Totenkopf
09-05-2009, 10:07 PM
Just convert LF into an IRC channel, ffs. :xp:

IMO, there just simply aren't enough video games that are actually "deep" enough to facilitate a form of philosophical study...


So, which ones IYO do?

As for me, I've never really bothered to look to video games as anything other than a cathartic release.