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"Ethics and Games Series: To the Moon" by Sherry Jones (May 27, 2018)

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About This Presentation: This is a philosophy and game studies presentation featuring the game, To the Moon (2011, 2014, 2017), a first person role-playing adventure game developed and published by Freebirds Games.

The presentation explores the rhetoric and the ethics of To the Moon using the following theories: Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialism.

Additional themes explored are: Memory and Identity; Memory Manipulation; Memory Loss and Suffering; Trauma; Self-Determination of Memory; Memories as Programs; Technology vs. Privacy; Falsifiable/Unreliable Memory; Rights of the Dying; Dignity of the Dying; Death and Regret; Denial of Reality; Questionable Reality; Asperger's Syndrome; Art as Expression of the Truth; Responsibility of Remembering.

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This presentation was featured at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Games and Simulations Network live webcast on May. 27, 2018.

The live webcast video was recorded and made available on Youtube, as well as made available in this presentation.

Please feel free to watch the video while exploring the presentation.

Published in: Education
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"Ethics and Games Series: To the Moon" by Sherry Jones (May 27, 2018)

  1. 1. Ethics & Games: Sherry Jones Philosophy & Game Studies Twitter @autnes To the Moon
  2. 2. About this Presentation This presentation was featured at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Games and Simulations Network live webcast on May. 27, 2018. The live webcast video was recorded and made available on Youtube, as well as made available in this presentation. Please feel free to watch the video while exploring the presentation.
  3. 3. Recorded Live Webcast
  4. 4. ⧞ What is To the Moon?
  5. 5. First Person Role-Playing Adventure Game ❖ To the Moon (2011, 2014, 2017) is a first person role-playing adventure game developed and published by Freebirds Games. It is a low fidelity (lo-fi) game made with the RPG Maker XP engine. ❖ Released on MS Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, iOS. ❖ Won the “Best Story” award from GameSpot 2011 End-Of-The-Year Awards. To the Moon is one of the few games recognized by critics and players as a work of art for its complex, emotional narrative and music scores. ❖ Major Announcement on May 18, 2018: Kan Gao, the game developer, announced that the game will be made into a full length animated feature film by a first-tier, Japanese production studio.
  6. 6. Game Story: Key Plot Points ❖ John Wyles is a dying man who requests Sigmund Corp., an artificial memory technology company, to implant artificial memory in his mind before he dies. The implanted memory would serve as John’s wish fulfillment. ❖ John’s dying wish is to go to the moon. However, John does not know why he desires so. ❖ Sigmund Corp. sends Dr. Eva Rosalene and Dr. Neil Watts to implant artificial memory in John’s mind, but John’s mind rejects the memory implant. ❖ The two doctors investigate moments in John’s memory to uncover why John’s mind is unable to accept the memory implant.
  7. 7. Main Characters ❖ John Wyles - A dying man who requests for a Sigmund Corp. artificial memory implant. ❖ River E. Wyles - Johns’ wife. ❖ Joey Wyles - John’s brother. ❖ Dr. Neil Watts - A Sigmund Corp. technician specialist. ❖ Dr. Eva Rosalene - A Sigmund Corp. senior memory traversal agent.
  8. 8. Game Situations and Themes ❖ To the Moon is a role-playing adventure game that addresses the situations of the dying and wish fulfillment. Although the game addresses intense themes, it is appropriate for play by all ages. ❖ Themes: Memory and Identity; Memory Manipulation; Memory Loss and Suffering; Trauma; Self-Determination of Memory; Memories as Programs; Technology vs. Privacy; Falsifiable/Unreliable Memory; Rights of the Dying; Dignity of the Dying; Death and Regret; Denial of Reality; Questionable Reality; Asperger's Syndrome; Art as Expression of the Truth; Responsibility of Remembering.
  9. 9. ⧞ Ethics of Moral Philosophy Relevant to the Game
  10. 10. Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialist Ethics ❖ French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) is one of the key figures in 20th century philosophy, and is one of the leading figures of existentialism, phenomenology, and Marxism. ❖ Sartre’s existentialism addresses the question of what it means to be an authentic being who is condemned to be free in a godless world. Sartre’s early philosophy addresses an ethics of authenticity, while his latter philosophy emphasizes moral responsibility of the individual through Marxist view of social structures. ❖ In latter half of this presentation, I will apply some of the key concepts from the early philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist ethics to analyze the morality of John Wyles’ actions in To the Moon.
  11. 11. ⧞ Game Narrative Puzzles and Mechanics
  12. 12. Design of Narrative Puzzles and Mechanics To the Moon, first released in 2011, is made with the RPG Maker XP engine, which offers lo-fi 16-bit 2D graphics and Japanese RPG style narrative puzzle designs. The game mechanisms include: ❖ Finding and obtaining objects from game map. ❖ Using obtained objects to unlock puzzles. ❖ Manipulating puzzle pieces to obtain memory momentos. ❖ Solving puzzles to trigger John Wyle’s story/memory events.
  13. 13. Find and Obtain Objects (1 of 4).
  14. 14. Find and Obtain Objects (2 of 4).
  15. 15. Find and Obtain Objects (3 of 4).
  16. 16. Find and Obtain Objects (4 of 4).
  17. 17. John Wyle’s Heart Monitor Menu.
  18. 18. Characters, Notes, and Items Menu.
  19. 19. Space Exploration Options.
  20. 20. Dialogue Options.
  21. 21. The Flipping Pieces Puzzle.
  22. 22. John Wyle’s Memory Travel Menu.
  23. 23. Battle Mechanics (RPG Joke) (1 of 10).
  24. 24. Battle Mechanics (RPG Joke) (2 of 10).
  25. 25. Battle Mechanics (RPG Joke) (3 of 10).
  26. 26. Battle Mechanics (RPG Joke) (4 of 10).
  27. 27. Battle Mechanics (RPG Joke) (5 of 10).
  28. 28. Battle Mechanics (RPG Joke) (6 of 10).
  29. 29. Battle Mechanics (RPG Joke) (7 of 10).
  30. 30. Battle Mechanics (RPG Joke) (8 of 10).
  31. 31. Battle Mechanics (RPG Joke) (9 of 10).
  32. 32. Battle Mechanics (RPG Joke) (10 of 10).
  33. 33. ⧞ Game Introduction: Meeting the Doctors and the Dying John Wyles
  34. 34. Meeting the Doctors (1 of 40).
  35. 35. Meeting the Doctors (2 of 40).
  36. 36. Meeting the Doctors (3 of 40).
  37. 37. Meeting the Doctors (4 of 40).
  38. 38. Meeting the Doctors (5 of 40).
  39. 39. Meeting the Doctors (6 of 40).
  40. 40. Meeting the Doctors (7 of 40).
  41. 41. Meeting the Doctors (8 of 40).
  42. 42. Meeting the Doctors (9 of 40).
  43. 43. Meeting the Doctors (10 of 40).
  44. 44. Meeting the Doctors (11 of 40).
  45. 45. Meeting the Doctors (12 of 40).
  46. 46. Meeting the Doctors (13 of 40).
  47. 47. Meeting the Doctors (14 of 40).
  48. 48. Meeting the Doctors (15 of 40).
  49. 49. Meeting the Doctors (16 of 40).
  50. 50. Meeting the Doctors (17 of 40).
  51. 51. Meeting the Doctors (18 of 40).
  52. 52. Meeting the Doctors (19 of 40).
  53. 53. Meeting the Doctors (20 of 40).
  54. 54. Meeting the Doctors (21 of 40).
  55. 55. Meeting the Doctors (22 of 40).
  56. 56. Meeting the Doctors (23 of 40).
  57. 57. Meeting the Doctors (24 of 40).
  58. 58. Meeting the Doctors (25 of 40).
  59. 59. Meeting the Doctors (26 of 40).
  60. 60. Meeting the Doctors (27 of 40).
  61. 61. Meeting the Doctors (28 of 40).
  62. 62. Meeting the Doctors (29 of 40).
  63. 63. Meeting the Doctors (30 of 40).
  64. 64. Meeting the Doctors (31 of 40).
  65. 65. Meeting the Doctors (32 of 40).
  66. 66. Meeting the Doctors (33 of 40).
  67. 67. Meeting the Doctors (34 of 40).
  68. 68. Meeting the Doctors (35 of 40).
  69. 69. Meeting the Doctors (36 of 40).
  70. 70. Meeting the Doctors (37 of 40).
  71. 71. Meeting the Doctors (38 of 40).
  72. 72. Meeting the Doctors (39 of 40).
  73. 73. Meeting the Doctors (40 of 40).
  74. 74. ⧞ Game Introduction: How the Life Agency Traversal Machine Works
  75. 75. Machine Functions (1 of 24).
  76. 76. Machine Functions (2 of 24).
  77. 77. Machine Functions (3 of 24).
  78. 78. Machine Functions (4 of 24).
  79. 79. Machine Functions (5 of 24).
  80. 80. Machine Functions (6 of 24).
  81. 81. Machine Functions (7 of 24).
  82. 82. Machine Functions (8 of 24).
  83. 83. Machine Functions (9 of 24).
  84. 84. Machine Functions (10 of 24).
  85. 85. Machine Functions (11 of 24).
  86. 86. Machine Functions (12 of 24).
  87. 87. Machine Functions (13 of 24).
  88. 88. Machine Functions (14 of 24).
  89. 89. Machine Functions (15 of 24).
  90. 90. Machine Functions (16 of 24).
  91. 91. Machine Functions (17 of 24).
  92. 92. Machine Functions (18 of 24).
  93. 93. Machine Functions (19 of 24).
  94. 94. Machine Functions (20 of 24).
  95. 95. Machine Functions (21 of 24).
  96. 96. Machine Functions (22 of 24).
  97. 97. Machine Functions (23 of 24).
  98. 98. Machine Functions (24 of 24).
  99. 99. ⧞ Game Rhetoric: Memory is a Manipulatable Object That Can Be Divorced from the Subject.
  100. 100. About the Following Scene . . . ❖ In the following scene, Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts are using a machine to examine John’s memory, and communicate with John’s mind. ❖ The game represents this communication as if Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts are traveling through the landscape within John’s memory. ❖ The “John” speaking in the scene is constructed based on the dying man’s memory of himself. In other words, this construct of John is based on how John remembers himself in the past.
  101. 101. Speaking with John’s Mind (1 of 41).
  102. 102. Speaking with John’s Mind (2 of 41).
  103. 103. Speaking with John’s Mind (3 of 41).
  104. 104. Speaking with John’s Mind (4 of 41).
  105. 105. Speaking with John’s Mind (5 of 41).
  106. 106. Speaking with John’s Mind (6 of 41).
  107. 107. Speaking with John’s Mind (7 of 41).
  108. 108. Speaking with John’s Mind (8 of 41).
  109. 109. Speaking with John’s Mind (9 of 41).
  110. 110. Speaking with John’s Mind (10 of 41).
  111. 111. Speaking with John’s Mind (11 of 41).
  112. 112. Speaking with John’s Mind (12 of 41).
  113. 113. Speaking with John’s Mind (13 of 41).
  114. 114. Speaking with John’s Mind (14 of 41).
  115. 115. Speaking with John’s Mind (15 of 41).
  116. 116. Speaking with John’s Mind (16 of 41).
  117. 117. Speaking with John’s Mind (17 of 41).
  118. 118. Speaking with John’s Mind (18 of 41).
  119. 119. Speaking with John’s Mind (19 of 41).
  120. 120. Speaking with John’s Mind (20 of 41).
  121. 121. Speaking with John’s Mind (21 of 41).
  122. 122. Speaking with John’s Mind (22 of 41).
  123. 123. Speaking with John’s Mind (23 of 41).
  124. 124. Speaking with John’s Mind (24 of 41).
  125. 125. Speaking with John’s Mind (25 of 41).
  126. 126. Speaking with John’s Mind (26 of 41).
  127. 127. Speaking with John’s Mind (27 of 41).
  128. 128. Speaking with John’s Mind (28 of 41).
  129. 129. Speaking with John’s Mind (29 of 41).
  130. 130. Speaking with John’s Mind (30 of 41).
  131. 131. Speaking with John’s Mind (31 of 41).
  132. 132. Speaking with John’s Mind (32 of 41).
  133. 133. Speaking with John’s Mind (33 of 41).
  134. 134. Speaking with John’s Mind (34 of 41).
  135. 135. Speaking with John’s Mind (35 of 41).
  136. 136. Speaking with John’s Mind (36 of 41).
  137. 137. Speaking with John’s Mind (37 of 41).
  138. 138. Speaking with John’s Mind (38 of 41).
  139. 139. Speaking with John’s Mind (39 of 41).
  140. 140. Speaking with John’s Mind (40 of 41).
  141. 141. Speaking with John’s Mind (41 of 41).
  142. 142. ⧞ Game Rhetoric: Physical Objects Serve as “Placeholders” of Memory.
  143. 143. About the Following Scene . . . ❖ In the following scene, Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts solve a memory puzzle (deciphering a platypus memento) to access a moment in John Wyle’s memory. ❖ The name of the platypus is “Anya,” and it serves as a memento of John’s conversation with his dying wife, River. ❖ River has Asperger's syndrome, which makes communication difficult. John is unable to understand River’s dying wish for John to comfort Anya, the platypus.
  144. 144. Platypus (Anya) Memories (1 of 53).
  145. 145. Platypus (Anya) Memories (2 of 53).
  146. 146. Platypus (Anya) Memories (3 of 53).
  147. 147. Platypus (Anya) Memories (4 of 53).
  148. 148. Platypus (Anya) Memories (5 of 53).
  149. 149. Platypus (Anya) Memories (6 of 53).
  150. 150. Platypus (Anya) Memories (7 of 53).
  151. 151. Platypus (Anya) Memories (8 of 53).
  152. 152. Platypus (Anya) Memories (9 of 53).
  153. 153. Platypus (Anya) Memories (10 of 53).
  154. 154. Platypus (Anya) Memories (11 of 53).
  155. 155. Platypus (Anya) Memories (12 of 53).
  156. 156. Platypus (Anya) Memories (13 of 53.
  157. 157. Platypus (Anya) Memories (14 of 53).
  158. 158. Platypus (Anya) Memories (15 of 53).
  159. 159. Platypus (Anya) Memories (16 of 53).
  160. 160. Platypus (Anya) Memories (17 of 53).
  161. 161. Platypus (Anya) Memories (18 of 53).
  162. 162. Platypus (Anya) Memories (19 of 53).
  163. 163. Platypus (Anya) Memories (20 of 53).
  164. 164. Platypus (Anya) Memories (21 of 53).
  165. 165. Platypus (Anya) Memories (22 of 53).
  166. 166. Platypus (Anya) Memories (23 of 53).
  167. 167. Platypus (Anya) Memories (24 of 53).
  168. 168. Platypus (Anya) Memories (25 of 53).
  169. 169. Platypus (Anya) Memories (26 of 53).
  170. 170. Platypus (Anya) Memories (27 of 53).
  171. 171. Platypus (Anya) Memories (28 of 53).
  172. 172. Platypus (Anya) Memories (29 of 53).
  173. 173. Platypus (Anya) Memories (30 of 53).
  174. 174. Platypus (Anya) Memories (31 of 53).
  175. 175. Platypus (Anya) Memories (32 of 53).
  176. 176. Platypus (Anya) Memories (33 of 53).
  177. 177. Platypus (Anya) Memories (34 of 53).
  178. 178. Platypus (Anya) Memories (35 of 53).
  179. 179. Platypus (Anya) Memories (36 of 53).
  180. 180. Platypus (Anya) Memories (37 of 53).
  181. 181. Platypus (Anya) Memories (38 of 53).
  182. 182. Platypus (Anya) Memories (39 of 53).
  183. 183. Platypus (Anya) Memories (40 of 53).
  184. 184. Platypus (Anya) Memories (41 of 53).
  185. 185. Platypus (Anya) Memories (42 of 53).
  186. 186. Platypus (Anya) Memories (43 of 53).
  187. 187. Platypus (Anya) Memories (44 of 53).
  188. 188. Platypus (Anya) Memories (45 of 53).
  189. 189. Platypus (Anya) Memories (46 of 53).
  190. 190. Platypus (Anya) Memories (47 of 53).
  191. 191. Platypus (Anya) Memories (48 of 53).
  192. 192. Platypus (Anya) Memories (49 of 53).
  193. 193. Platypus (Anya) Memories (50 of 53).
  194. 194. Platypus (Anya) Memories (51 of 53).
  195. 195. Platypus (Anya) Memories (52 of 53).
  196. 196. Platypus (Anya) Memories (53 of 53).
  197. 197. ⧞ Game Ending: Spoilers Ahead!
  198. 198. Applying Philosophy and Ethics of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism to Examine the Game, To the Moon
  199. 199. Concepts in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism and Ethics (1 of 5) ❖ French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) is one of the key figures in 20th century philosophy, and is one of the leading figures of existentialism, phenomenology, and Marxism. ❖ Sartre’s existentialism addresses the question of what it means to be an authentic being who is condemned to be free in a godless world. ❖ Sartre’s early philosophy is on the ethics of authenticity, while his latter philosophy emphasizes moral responsibility of the individual through Marxist view of social structures.
  200. 200. Concepts in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism and Ethics (2 of 5) ❖ Sartre’s existentialism addresses what it means to be a human being by defining what it is to be a conscious being. ❖ For Sartre, consciousness is always “about” something in the physical world. It is in the intentionality of aboutness that makes a being conscious (as opposed to non-conscious things that lack aboutness). ❖ Human beings, as conscious beings situated in the physical world, are always contemplating about things in the world. In other words, a human’s being is always about her situated existence in the world.
  201. 201. Concepts in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism and Ethics (3 of 5) ❖ Sartre famously argues that our “existence precedes essence.” ❖ Sartre’s argument is a rejection of the previous argument that essence precedes existence, or the notion that nature or God gives essence (purpose) to all of existence. ❖ If existence precedes essence, it follows that the purpose of existence is not given to human beings, but that human beings have to create our own purpose to exist. ❖ For Sartre: “Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.”
  202. 202. Concepts in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism and Ethics (4 of 5) ❖ By arguing that existence precedes essence, Sartre brings us to two problematic concepts: radical freedom and bad faith. ❖ Radical freedom refers to a freedom to choose to do anything one desires. The only choice that one with radical freedom cannot make is to choose to not be free. ❖ However, being radically free means that one has to bear all the consequences of one’s decisions. One can no longer blame nature, God, situations, or other people, for suffering the consequences of one’s actions. After all, God and nature are no longer the creators of human purpose.
  203. 203. Concepts in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism and Ethics (5 of 5) ❖ For Sartre, being a conscious being is to be “condemned to be free,” or to be condemned to freely choose and bear the consequences of one’s choices. This is a terrifying burden, but it is a part of the ethics of being a conscious being with radical freedom. ❖ On the other hand is the concept of bad faith, or to deceive oneself that one’s choices are not one’s own, that someone else, some external entity, has made determinations for one’s life. ❖ Sartre’s existentialist ethics calls on human beings to live an authentic life, to exercise our freedom of choice, and to accept our responsibility for our choices and actions.
  204. 204. ⧞ Applying Sartre’s Existentialist Ethics to To the Moon
  205. 205. Connection Between Sartre’s Existentialism and To the Moon 1 ❖ If we examine John Wyle’s choices through the lens Sartre’s existentialism, we could argue that John is acting in bad faith. ❖ Instead of accepting the consequences of his choice of erasing the memory of his brother’s death from his mind, John continues to request Sigmund Corp. to insert false memory in his mind to deny the responsibility of his actions.
  206. 206. Connection Between Sartre’s Existentialism and To the Moon 2 ❖ For John, a consequence for erasing Joey Wyle’s (his brother’s) death from memory is to also omit his own memory of meeting his wife, River, at the carnival. ❖ John continues to deceive himself by requesting to implant the false memory of going to the moon to meet with River, who has already died. ❖ John lived an inauthentic life by not accepting the responsibilities of his actions.
  207. 207. Presentation by: Sherry Jones Philosophy & Game Studies SME Lecturer, Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design ISTE Games and Simulations Network Leader http://about.me/sherryjones Twitter @autnes sherryjones.edtech@gmail.com

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