About the Book
Today’s blockbuster video games—and their never-ending sequels, sagas, and reboots—provide plenty of excitement in high-resolution but for the most part fail to engage a player’s moral imagination. In Beyond Choices I argue that (video)games can be made ethically relevant by design. In the 1970s, mainstream films—including The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, and Taxi Driver—filled theaters but also treated their audiences as thinking beings. Why can’t mainstream video games have the same moral and aesthetic impact? It is time for games to claim their place in the cultural landscape as vehicles for ethical reflection.
In this book I look at ethical gameplay through many objects: toys, analog games, computer and video games, interactive fictions, commercial blockbusters, and underground art pieces. Drawing on philosophy, design theory, literary studies, aesthetics, and interviews with game developers, Beyond Choices provides a systematic account of how games can be designed to challenge and enrich our moral lives. The book contains analysis of Spec Ops: The Line, Beautiful Escape: Dungeoneer, Fallout New Vegas, and Anna Anthropy’s Dys4Ia, among many others. Games are designed to evoke specific emotions; games that engage players ethically enable us to explore and express our values through play.
Beyond Choices is intended as a challenge to creators and players, to dare design, publish, and play as moral beings, being challenged and shocked and provoked and enriched as human beings. This is a book that shows how to ask the right ethical questions to a game design, whether we are designing, analyzing, or playing.