Usually, our actions in games don´t really matter.
That is, of course they do but only in the very narrow scope of the game logic itself. The game asks us to decide whether to do A or B and we do as told and end up with some consequence. But this consequence also stays within the boundaries of the game world. To put it simple: We kill a NPC and we end up with the consequence – a dead NPC. That´s pretty much it.
Of course, these may have various consequences within the game world, its narration or its plot. It does affect our player character.
But it does not affect us as players.
Obviously, the same does not count for games where there are “real” people involved, such as multiplayer games. We don´t talk to dead bags of algorithmic meat (=NPCs) then but to real people, although they only transcend the screen as heaps of pixel. And our deeds affect others players. If we kill and loot them, well, we killed and looted someone – albeit only a digital token of that person. This may have consequences – our victim may forgive us or hate us or hunger for revenge. The consequences of our deeds are not scripted, but rather human – yet the scope of the possible reractions still depends on the possibilities of actions the game grants us. But because our reactions towards each other are only determined by the mechanic rules of the game but not by the confinedness of any scripted NPC-morality, new questions arise:
How do notions like guilt and responsibility come into play in games where we interact with other people?
Or: Do they come into play at all?
And most importantly: Are we to judge or evaluate other player´s deeds?
These are exactly the questions, the indie-game Moirai hits us in the face with.
It is not possible to explain the game without giving away its central twist. So I am bound to keep my mouth shut/my fingers from tiping any further.
Just go out. Now. Get it – it is free!
And judge for yourself.
Photocredit by Steam