November 16, 2011
Video games are designed with different purposes in mind. Some are just for fun, others exercise your mind as you solve puzzles, and some present players with moral dilemmas that immerse you in an ethical experience. Examples of ethical games are the Mass Effect or Dragon Age franchises. They go beyond average role-playing games and encourage players to reflect on their decisions. However, these types of games are not usually designed for casual players.
Recently, I took a course related to Ethics in Video Games with Professor Mia Consalvo, and I discovered Choice of the Dragon. This is a very simple philosophical game where you take the role of a confused dragon who likes to kidnap princesses and princes. You have the option to be good, evil, or something in between. However, your decisions affect the story of the game and the game play.
Choice of the Dragon encourages ethical and philosophical reflections of our own values and decisions that we make in real life. At the beginning, you have to make certain decisions in order to customize your character and develop its personality. Are you going to play as a kind, never-ending-story style dragon? Or do you prefer to be evil and show no mercy?
Through the progress of the game, decisions become more difficult. There are not right or wrong choices, they just lead you down different paths of the story, increasing or decreasing the skills of your dragon. The goal of the game is not just finishing; it also involves making wise decisions while reflecting your own values.
Choice of the Dragon is developed by Choice of Games, a small independent gaming company that develops and distributes free and simple text-based multiple-choice games that include interesting ethical experiences. These games can be used on any type of computer or mobile device, as long as it has access to the Internet.
Additionally, Choice of Games distributes a simple programming language for writing similar games. This language just requires basic computing skills. You do not need to be a professional programmer in order to develop a game. Moreover, if you develop a game, Choice of Games can host it on its website for free.
Whether or not you are a hardcore gamer, try Choice of the Dragon. If you like to write and develop your own games, or you just want to write an ethical interactive experience, take a look to Choice Script. Have fun!
Salvador Garcia Martinez is currently collaborating as a researcher at the Technoculture, Art, and Games research centre; he is also a doctoral student in Educational Technology at Concordia University in Montreal. He has professional experience as a software developer, web designer, and instructional designer. You can connect with him on linkedIn or his personal website or follow him on Twitter @salgarciam.
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