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Designing Ethical Dilemmas - Long


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Slides from 30 minute talk on Designing Ethical Dilemmas given at the IGDA Madison Chapter meeting in July 2009

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Designing Ethical Dilemmas - Long

  1. 1. Designing Ethical Dilemmas Manveer Heir Raven Software July 28, 2009
  2. 2. What Would You Do... <ul><li>If you had to choose between your wife and your daughter?
  3. 3. You found a wallet on the street with $1000 and no clear owner?
  4. 4. Watch a mother and her child wither away to ensure your survival? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Who Is This Guy? B.S. Computer Science – Virginia Tech Programming Intern at Big Huge Games on Rise of Legends Gameplay Programmer at Raven Software on Wolfenstein for 2+ years Game Designer at Raven Software on Wolfenstein Currently Lead Designer on a top-secret project
  6. 6. What This Talk Is About <ul><li>How to understand and design games that let players experience ethical dilemmas </li></ul><ul><li>This talk is not about: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethical responsibilities of the designer
  7. 7. How to act ethically in the workplace </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. No one told me research = reading :(
  9. 9. Why Ethical Dilemmas? <ul><li>One tool to create more meaningful play experiences
  10. 10. Need game emotions beyond fear and aggression
  11. 11. Can be the key to unlocking these new emotions in players </li></ul>
  12. 13. Ethics vs. Morals <ul><li>Morals are the “principles of right and wrong behavior” (Merriam-Webster)
  13. 14. Ethics are “a set of moral principles: a theory or system of moral value” (Merriam-Webster)
  14. 15. Ethics are “a rational, methodological approach to the questions of good, evil, duty and values” (Sicart) </li></ul>
  15. 16. Types of Ethical Designs <ul><li>Open Ethical Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open System Design
  16. 17. Open World Design </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Closed Ethical Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Substracting Design
  17. 18. Mirroring Design </li></ul></ul>(Sicart)
  18. 19. Open Ethical Design <ul><li>Open System Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rules, systems, and mechanics are affected by player choice, but not narrative
  19. 20. Games such as BioShock </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Open World Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Character, narrative, fiction being affected by player choice
  20. 21. Games such as Fable </li></ul></ul>
  21. 22. Closed Ethical Design <ul><li>Subtracting Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Player knows actions have weight, but has to decipher
  22. 23. Player deciphers the ethics of gameplay outside the scope of the game </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mirroring Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Create a relation between the actions of the player and the character
  23. 24. Can reward unethical gameplay this way to challenge the player's ethical framework </li></ul></ul>
  24. 25. Dilemmas Require Open Design <ul><li>Closed designs rely on a high level of authorship by the designer
  25. 26. These games can potentially become preachy and don't take full advantage of the medium
  26. 27. Open designs are harder to account for, but potentially more rewarding
  27. 28. Open designs will be the way in which our games will open up new emotional responses in players </li></ul>
  28. 29. We Got Problems
  29. 31. Black and White Model <ul><li>Designers tells you if you are doing a good or bad job
  30. 32. Binary system that doesn’t account for ambiguities that exist
  31. 33. Applying scores and mechanics to ethical decisions marginalizes the decision </li></ul>
  32. 34. BioShock <ul><li>Saving or killing Little Sister’s starts off as an emotionally impactful decision
  33. 35. Turns to realization of the strategy
  34. 36. Robs the impact of the ethical decisions and turns the decision into one of optimal strategy </li></ul>
  35. 37. Star Wars <ul><li>Never feel like Luke in the games
  36. 38. Need something more
  37. 39. Need ambiguity! </li></ul>
  38. 40. World is Gray
  39. 41. How Do We Reach Our Potential? <ul><li>Narrative
  40. 42. Consequences
  41. 43. Obstacles
  42. 44. Permanence </li></ul>
  43. 45. Narrative <ul><li>Player must be invested in world
  44. 46. Not economically invested
  45. 47. Emotionally invested
  46. 48. Ludic elements need to support narrative elements
  47. 49. Ludonarrative Dissonance (Hocking) </li></ul>
  48. 50. No Magical Formula For Narrative
  49. 51. Consequences <ul><li>Choices have consequences
  50. 52. Need to significantly impact the game
  51. 53. Player needs to understand consequence is a result of earlier choice
  52. 54. Do not minimize impact of consequences </li></ul>
  53. 55. Mass Effect
  54. 56. Obstacles <ul><li>Obstacles can make the player stop
  55. 57. Push player down a new path
  56. 58. Try making “moral” road the more difficult
  57. 59. Game paths don't have to be equal
  58. 60. Challenge player's conceptions of what is ethical! </li></ul>
  59. 61. Train
  60. 62. Permanence <ul><li>Redoing our choices robs them of the impact
  61. 63. Choices that are mechanical (shooting) are fine to redo
  62. 64. Forces player to live with consequences
  63. 65. Lends self to experiential gameplay, not mastery </li></ul>
  64. 66. Tenpenny Tower
  65. 67. A Funny Thing Happened...
  67. 69. How Does Tenpenny Tower Fare? <ul><li>Narrative – I care about the world of Fallout, I feel bad for the Ghouls being treated like less than humans. I want to save them and “do the right thing”.
  68. 70. Consequences – If I “do the right thing” the humans still die and they never come back.
  69. 71. Obstacles – It's easier to just kill one side outright. “Doing the right thing” requires me to convince others and do an extra quest
  70. 72. Permanance – I decided not to let myself reload... why? </li></ul>
  71. 73. VENGENCE
  72. 74. This Is The Potential Of Ethical Dilemmas In Games
  73. 75. Thank You <ul><li>Questions?
  74. 76. Contact Info </li></ul>E-Mail: [email_address] Design Rampage: Follow me on Twitter: @manveerheir