Good And Evil In Games


Choices involving good, evil and morality seem to be the latest trend in games. In the old days, the only choice you had was whether to use the boomerang or bomb as a secondary weapon in The Legend of Zelda. But times have changed.

At first, the choices were opaque: in Grand Theft Auto III, when not in a mission, you could run around and kill innocent bystanders for no reason. Or you could abide by the law (except traffic laws) and just stick to the straight and narrow. I wreaked as much havoc as possible because that world is a virtual playground and I wanna play! It wasn’t a choice in the way we usually think of them, but it was there for you to decide.

One game that had a truly great set of choices was Knights of the Old Republic. Almost every quest had a choice to make: to stay on the Light side and do good or stray to the Dark side and be selfish. Usually, I take these on a case by case turn, but the writing and humor in KoTor was so great, I had to be a Sith Prick. Using the Force to make someone jump off a balcony? Check. Freeing a slave dancer only to put her back to work for me? Check.

But my favorite moment involved a soldier stuck on a ledge. There was an explosive that would kill him or I could deactivate it and get him down safely. I had not decided what to do when I walked over to it and he begged me not to press the button. The choices that came up were: “Do nothing” or “What, this button? (press button)”. Needless to say, that was too funny to pass up and I blew that guy back to Alderaan.

The same types of choices were in Fable. Most involved saving people or killing them, but one really struck me as a tough choice. Near the end of the game, you have the choice of saving your sister, which is what the whole game was basically about, or killing her and getting this awesome sword. When the time came, I stood there, looking at my sister and the sword and I realized something: I don’t really know this bitch from Adam and that sword is way too awesome to pass up. One slash later and the girl was down and the sword was mine. Totally worth it because pwned the rest of the way. Of course, it made my evil meter sky rocket so I looked liked Satan on steroids, but like I said: totally worth it.

Recently, games like Fallout 3 have given us similar choices, such as choosing to save or nuke the town of Megaton. I have yet to play this game as it will arrive when Santa brings it, but I can promise you that I will likely save the town on my first playthrough, but watch out on the second go round. Things are going to get messy.

The one game that has truly touched a nerve, though, is Bioshock. I am only recently playing this, but it is an awesome experience. I had heard so much from so┬ámany about the Little Sisters and how hard it was to not harvest them and blah blah blah. I thought, “What a bunch of pansies.” It’s just a video game and if that freaky little girl has got the goods I need to win, then I will take her down to Chinatown.

But once I came across a Little Sister, my heart melted. The way she was so scared and scurried across the floor, hiding behind a counter, begging me not to hurt her. I just couldn’t do it. I had rescue her and once she thanked me and told me I saved her, I knew I had to save every one of these ghoulish girls. But I did save my game so I could see what it looks like when I harvest them, hehe. I made the right choice because I honestly got a warm, fuzzy feeling everytime I saved one of the little tykes. Their utter helplessness swayed my jaded heart. It was the first time a video game made me feel protective of a character.

So what about you guys? Do you follow the path of the dogooder or the douche bag? And what makes you lean towards one path or the other?

Written by

Age: 34 PSN ID: Starkiller81. I've played games since before I can remember, starting with my dad's Atari and I haven't stopped yet. Keep them coming and I will keep playing them.

24 thoughts on “Good And Evil In Games”

  1. In most games I am typically a total douche in terms of morality. I will kill anything that talks, moves, or looks at me funny. However, something about Bioshock touched a nerve in me, as well. The Little Sisters were just too darn helpless.

    Also, in KOTOR, the moment when Jolee Bindo confronts you about your dark choices gave me pause. When I had to fight him or turn to the light, I seriously almost turned to the light. I totally regretted killing him after I did it.

  2. Bindo,lol, that Samuel L. Jackson wannabe?

    I toasted his ass and never looked back. A Sith deals in absolutes and he absolutely had to die,lol.

  3. IT depends on the game. In TFU (which was a little bit of a letdown) I only finished it on good. Though I wore a Sith Robe all the time. In fallout I played as good, though I made a evil character as well. In Fallout 3 though its only the speech option for good, I lock pick and takes things from people all the time, mostly because Im an item whore. Playing neutral in F3 is hard lol
    In games like KOTOR II I think I was neutral…force lightning is way too cool.

    I tend to play as the good guy, sticking to what I would really do in that situation. if I would kill that person though, I do it haha

  4. GOD I loved killing those Little Sisters. The more brutal the better. Seriously.

    If I get the choice, I’m always, always on the evil side. Its also, so much easier.
    Its hard work, being a good guy.

    But I always tend to play those kind of games twice, just to see both sides.

  5. A long time ago, when KotOR 2 was just announced, I read an article in a gaming magazine which was an interview with the lead designers of KotOR one. In it, they detailed the morality choices they set out for the player, and the paths a good or evil character would take. Interestingly, they said that people have a predisposition to play either good or evil, even in a video game.

    For me, I’m always the good guy. When given a quest with a choice in morality, I always take the high road. In games like those, I often do a second play through where I have to consciously choose the evil choices, it never flows naturally for me. I’ll make an evil choice, like blowing up Megaton in Fallout3, for example, and then immediately regret it.

    It’s interesting that games are starting more and more to delve into the duality of man. Evil quest choices often net you more person gain faster, while being a paragon of virtue means that you have to struggle a bit more in the monetary area.

    Conversely, a good character will be treated more favorably, while an evil character will be met with revulsion. I’d really like to see a game where you physical appearance drastically changes people’s attitude towards you. If you have a demonic visage, quest givers might run away in fear! (I know that Fable 2 does something similar, but a game where you can fart and flex your way back into favor doesn’t seem to realistic to me.)

  6. The only thing I don’t like about being evil in games is that you tend not to get more quests. Some quests, if you are evil, you just don’t do and I want to do everything,lol!

  7. I think that most games are designed with the idea of the player being good, and when the player is evil, things just get messed up. The original Neverwinter Nights was like this. You could be totally evil, but you’d still deal with the good guys and save the city – you never got the chance of throwing your lot in with the bad guys and burning the city to the ground!
    The KoTOR series was good at this though (well, for the most part) and I especially liked the first one when your alignment actually sees you kill off half of your party in the end! The Sith Lords was well done in the sense that you could either corrupt or redeem your followers, but the part they screwed up on was how you could make an ally totally dark, yet said ally would still get upset when you whacked some shmuck! Its like, “C’mon buddy! You’re just as twisted as I am, so don’t give me any of that bleeding heart crap!”

    … though I was a huge fan of the changing facial appearances of the characters… all they have to do next is make the voices change as well.

  8. I hate these alignment choices in games because I’m a completionist, I need to do everything and get every item and so on. And when you get these complicated alignment choices and so many choices I really, really struggle. In Fallout 3 the thing that keeps me playing is the fact that I’m developing a character RPG style which I love. I haven’t played any RPGs in a long time so I’m suffering from withdrawal symptoms of my RPG addiction.

    The reason I don’t like the multiple choices and alignments is because I hate replaying a game unless its been ages since I’ve played it and i feel like a little nostalgia.

  9. I’m pretty much incapable of going the evil route in games – every time I try, I end up turning back. Why? I guess it’s mostly practical. I’m a sucker for the happy ending, so I’ve got to see that, and I know that given my schedule and priorities, if I want to play more than 3 or 4 games a year, I’m not going to have the chance to play through again for a long, long time. But who knows, I could still go bad in Fable 2…

  10. BioShock definitely takes the cake for the whole “tugging at your heartstrings” thing. Or if you’re not careful, it rips ’em out.

  11. I usually end up in the gray area with games like KOTOR or Fallout. I try to play the game as if I was actually the character, and evidently, I can be a real douche sometimes.

    After playing like that, I try to pick good or evil, but I still end up in the gray because I think something is just too mean (Blowing up Megaton) or just too pansy (Frickin beggars can find their own damn water).

  12. [quote comment=”2561″]
    The KoTOR series was good at this though (well, for the most part) and I especially liked the first one when your alignment actually sees you kill off half of your party in the end! [/quote]

    Yes! This was one of my favorite things when I played KOTOR. At the time, I had never played an RPG that let you fight with your party at all, especially in some dynamic way depending on your choices. I was blown away by it.

  13. Mass Effect did something similar during your standoff with Wrex. I didn’t really care about when you were forced to choose between Ashley and Kaidan (I always chose Kaidan), but the showdown with Wrex was really well done, complete with a decent amount of endings.

  14. When I first played KoTOR, I was good… until I had the choice to side with Bastila or not. I went evil. totally evil. I just couldnt say no to her… Im a guy, so I think we all know why I did it.
    Also, I tend side with nuetral, as I tend to do both good and bad things, as I do in real life. I always weigh my options, and sometimes, evil wins. Like nuking Megaton. Never played Fallout 3, but Ill bet you all $5 that Ill nuke it. why? how often do you get to nuke something? I know I’ve very rarely been given the option, and damned if I pass it up.
    What I dont like about the “choose your path” games is that at the end, you either go good or evil. what about a more nuetral-aligned ending? I know with fable, I sat there for 10 minutes trying to decide whether to keep the sword or not (I didnt with my first character. couldnt bring myself to ice my sister…). Why cant we nuetral-aligned peeps get an ending?

  15. I regularly choose to be evil especially in Mass Effect. It was done well in that game because being good got more experience but being bad got you more money so the obvious choice is money.

  16. one of the best things to do is on gta4 and run people over in slow-mo i love do it cause it so funny watching them slided up the front of the car

    and on bio shock i could not bring myself to kill any little girl and i saved them all and got the achivememt (woo!!)

  17. I really like the idea of moral choice, but as Captain Canada said, it’s a bummer that you can’t switch sides and help the evil-cause. Kill of the evil-mastermind and all the do-gooders in your way and become the evil-overlord yourself. (Even Overlord didn’t really manage to do that…)

    I usually just play without trying to be good or bad. Most times I end up being evil (like in KotoR or Black & White [I really needed the mana..]). Lately I becoming softhearted though, when playing Fable 2 I was Mr. Nice-Guy and when I started again to play it evil, it was really hard to make that decissions on purpose.

    I hope that future games offer a lot more variety in that field.

  18. One of the things that gets me is if I feel for the victims. If its funny, then I don’t care.

    Like when I watch the Sopranos. I love Tony and all the guys, but when an innocent gets caught in it, you can’t help but feel guilty for rooting for these people.

  19. [quote comment=”2588″][quote comment=”2561″]
    The KoTOR series was good at this though (well, for the most part) and I especially liked the first one when your alignment actually sees you kill off half of your party in the end! [/quote]

    Yes! This was one of my favorite things when I played KOTOR. At the time, I had never played an RPG that let you fight with your party at all, especially in some dynamic way depending on your choices. I was blown away by it.[/quote]

    *SPOILERS* At the end of Far Cry 2 you do the same. Any buddies who have survived end up being offed by you. I was like “NO! Quarbanni! Marty… WHY???” It made me feel really evil, though they don’t fully explain why they went from ’17 Buddy’ to ‘Hostile’. :'(

    But in a lot of games that try to question your actions, you’re not given enough freedom (KOTOR seems to be one of the few exceptions though). In Assasians Creed Altiar constantly questions his actions but does nothing to stop himself. Still have to play Bioshock, how much does it pre-install onto the PS3? I’m running out of room so I need to know if i can get it or if my whole SFF video collections must go and stay on my iPod rather than HD.

  20. I love being evil. It’s a part of me that I never get to flex in real life, (unfortunately) and so I indulge constantly. The problem with being good is, it’s more work, and I detest work of almost any kind. *shrug* I guess I just prefer immediate gain over eventual gain.

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