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timber maniac


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Which video game has challenged your perspective on the way you live your life and how?

The video game I credit is a role playing game called Final Fantasy 7.

The conflict of the game begins immediately. As you play the story unfolds and you learn of a corporation that is extracting 'Mako Energy' from the planet by means of giant reactors. This 'Mako Energy' is then converted into electricity that is used in the city surrounding the reactors. It is a lucrative business. As a player, you begin the game with your character being directly involved in a vigilante terrorist group; a group whose goal is to destroy these 'Mako Reactors'.
Though the character you play cares little for the goals of his group (your character's main interest is making money), you continue to be involved in these vigilante missions. As time progresses in the game (meaning you complete more story-line) your character learns that 'Mako Energy' is found in all of the creatures and plants that inhabit the game's world. When a life ends this 'Mako Energy' flows back into the planet. It is then recycled by the planet and used to create new life. You understand that the extraction of 'Mako Energy' will result in the disabling of the planet's ability to support new life, and it also means that the planet is itself a living thing (as a player you can visit a place in the game and hear the planet itself making painful noises). You learn that the corporation's president is aware of these facts and is yet still planning to progress with the extraction of 'Mako Energy'.

How did this challenge my perspective?

Growing up I had been exposed to many different ideas of accountability but only at the age of 12, with the help of this compelling story, did I seriously contemplate my role in society. I wondered what kind of character I was, and what kind of character I would like to be. The story made it clear that those who act from a source of greed were ostracized from a moral society. I decided that indifference towards suffering cannot be hidden and that greed will never be satisfied.


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  • Jan 27 2012: (My second story)

    Within the last year, I played through Fable III (SPOILER ALERT), which is obviously the third in a series of fantasy role-playing games that have the added twist of a meta game (where in addition to roaming the countryside, killing monsters, you own property, get married, become king, rule and make decisions about how you will treat people and how you will govern).

    My play style in any game like this that provides moral choices is to play a paragon of good-- and, invariably, this leads me to the most rewarding outcome. In other words, most games of this design have a logical progression along this path-- make all the Good choices, achieve the Good ending/outcome of the game. Fable III however, forces the player into a counter-moral situation-- where there is no option that will let the good player conclude the game with everyone else happy with them-- so the player is forced to choose between two bad options. I found the experience jarring-- it wasn't the result of some earlier mistake I had made-- I had done everything right, and yet this no-win moral dilemma arose-- and the resulting outcome was regretful, but unavoidable.

    I saw how much my concern for being perceived as "Good" drove me. It does this a lot in my life, as well-- where I always want to find win-win situations and, sometimes, there aren't any immediately available. And, when that happens, it's also not the end of the world. Even the loss of half of the population of your kingdom is not the end of the kingdom. That had a big impact on me and how I view my own personal drive to being "Good".
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      Jan 27 2012: "I saw how much my concern for being perceived as "Good" drove me." This is an excellent quote. Deep down I feel responsible for the choices I make when offered a moral dilemma in a game. Then when I'm really into it I find myself shouting out apologies if I accidentally get an innocent stuck in my chain lightning.
    • Jan 28 2012: Spoiler Alert, though the game is about a year old at this point

      I also had the same impact from Fable 3. I completed the first half of the game on the side of good, promising my allies that i would right the wrongs my oppressive brother forced upon the citizens of his kingdom. Once i overthrew him and learned of what was to happen, the moral dilemma arose. Should i keep my promises, make my people happy for the year, and not have enough money to raise an army to stop the invasion, or should i sacrifice the happiness of my subjects and betray my allies in order to have enough capital to build an army to save everyone in my kingdom. Happy citizens who were doomed or pissed off downtrodden citizens who were going to survive the invasion.

      Needless to say, having to make the moral decision really stuck with me for quite a while.

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