Wednesday 12 March 2014

MMOs: A Test of Morals

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Isn't playing a mass murderer is fun?

In your entire MMO career, how many pixelated creatures and people have you slain? Just think up a number. I'm guessing it's quite a big number that's come to mind, and that's not entirely your fault given the main focus of most games is combat. I'm guessing the number is higher still in your FPS or RTS careers if you avidly play those too.

Does the game usually give you a good enough reason to kill all these things? Vermin extermination is pretty low in my "heroic goals" list but that seems to frequently come up, as is the "oh no, help defend our village by killing x number of those monsters!" Really? I'll save your village by offing 10 pirates or 20 flaming iguanas... who then respawn in 5 minutes?

More disturbing are the guys that want body parts. Tanners and butchers I can let slide, but when people start asking for paws or ears or eyeballs do you ever stop and wonder what they do with it? Or do you just go at face value of, I need the eyeballs to break a magic spell excuse? Even more concerning is when you are tasked with collecting say... ears, and only pull ONE from a two eared target. MUAHAHAHAAHAHAH this way I get to kill TWICE your number!

I think Tobold said something like this before: that since a game usually focuses only on combat then the players (and by extension the developers) will explore all sorts of options that only deal with that mechanic. I've not yet seen a modern MMO where random NPCs will flee, or surrender, be taken to jail by players, or can be talked to and befriended, all outside set story pieces.

If all the bad guys are just painted as "black" (you racist!)... I mean "bad" and our only possible interaction with them is to kill them in various ways it's not surprising that no one really gives a second thought about mass murder. Hopefully this is something that will be changed in MMOs of the future, but for now as players I think it's best if we just don't think about it and enjoy the visceral hacking, slashing, and exploding of our opponents. That's what heroes are made out of right?

Dexter agrees.

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