Weighing Morality in Gaming

Kotaku is the latest website to examine the implementation of morality systems in video games, though they completely overlook the many games that used such systems decadesĀ ago and instead point out the Mass Effect series, Alpha Protocol, and The Witcher as being the finest examples. Sooner or later, I need to write my own article on the subject so that newcomers get more than a three-year perspective:
Bioware's Mass Effect games are perhaps the purest example of how these kind of systems have been implemented thoughtfully and effectively. There are real consequences that the player has to live with, and they carry over throughout the series. Players can choose between morally good (blue) and morally questionable/renegade (the choice between playing as Luke Skywalker or Malcom Reynolds) with a neutral choice in between. The player can always choose either good or bad, but persisting in one type of choice long enough unlocks a kind of super-powered good or bad choice later in the game.

The Bioware games are not the only ones to go this route. Alpha Protocol has recently attempted something similar, and games like The Witcher, though they do not use color coding for their good and bad choices, do allow you to make moral decisions which affect the world in real pragmatic ways. However, I would like to use the Bioware/Mass Effect system as an exemplar of the mechanics of interface between the player and the game world. The implementation is well done, but I would like to propose, from a philosophical and theological point of view, the possibility of implementing a system that more accurately reflects real life moral choice as described by some of the great thinkers of Western Culture.

As Aristotle said, the more a person does the good, the more they like doing the good, and conversely, the more a person does evil, the more they are inclined to continue to do evil. Both reason and experience back up Aristotle's observation. If a person acts in a pattern of charity, they will become the kind of person who is inclined toward charity. If a person habitually degrades other people, they will find it difficult to think well of someone new they meet. One can make an argument for this easily observed reality from theological, philosophical, psychological, and physical grounds. Given this, perhaps the next evolution of the morality system in games should be one which pushed a player toward a particular choice depending on their tendencies. If the player has thrown someone out of the window the past three times he or she has argued, shouldn't that be what he or she is inclined to do this time?