Many video games incorporate some form of moral system and try to force players to make difficult ethical choices. I look at various ways that video games represent morality, ranging from simplistic meters to more nuanced attempts to adapt the gameworld in response to player actions. While in many cases a game’s moral system is obviously very artificial, I argue that it can still be used to encourage moral reflection. I also consider two situations in which players were deceived about how much effect their choices would have, one of which resulted in a great deal of outrage. Ultimately, our ability to care about and be affected by choices in video games is what opens the door to moral engagement. Video games have the potential to foster more moral deliberation on an everyday basis, particularly since playing through moral dilemmas is much more interesting to most people than simply reading about them.
Note: This was an invited talk and incorporates portions of my paper “The Ethics of Choice in Single-Player Video Games” along with my more recent work.