Back in 2012, I began writing a blog entitled Skyrim and Morality because I wanted a forum in which to consider some of the moral issues that had arisen in my experience of playing the game. I enjoyed writing those posts, and I am grateful for the exchanges with the readers who took the time to comment on my posts. The high point for me was being contacted by one of Bethesda’s quest writers, who expressed his appreciation for my serious consideration of his work. It was gratifying to communicate with others who shared my view of gaming as a fertile field for moral experimentation.
As rewarding as writing that blog was, however, I realized after a couple of years that I had made a few critical errors. First, in limiting myself to Skyrim, I failed to anticipate the extended conversation about morality in gaming at large. Second, I had locked myself into a pattern of writing about each playthrough chronologically; while this strategy worked well for my primary character, I got bogged down during the posts about my second character, and the posts soon began to read like bad fanfiction. Third (and probably the factor that led most directly to my abandonment of the project almost a year ago), by sticking to a chronological format, I was never going to be able to “catch up.” Invariably, I would encounter something fascinating in Fallout 3 or Dishonored, only to sigh and say, “Well, I can’t write about that until I finish writing about the Dark Brotherhood questline.” My pastime had become a chore, so I approached it less and less frequently. Finally, a few months ago, I started getting notices that spammers had begun posting get-rich-quick links in my comment sections, and I was forced to admit that I had truly abandoned the project. I plan to keep the original blog open for anyone who would like to peruse it, and I may occasionally borrow some posts from it, but my primary focus will be the blog you’re reading now.
The main goal of moralityplays is to explore the moral, ethical, and philosophical dimensions of gaming. The structure and nature of the posts will be much looser than those I employed in Skyrim and Morality, which will allow both me and the commenters far more license to explore ideas without the limitations of quest order or even game title.
For the sake of sanity, however, I will be using a spoiler-avoiding device at the beginning of each post to inform readers where I am in the specific quest; in so doing, readers will be able to dodge spoilers, and commenters will (I hope) be able to avoid spoiling anything for me.
That said, I’m going to dive right in and dedicate the next post to one of my current moral dilemmas: the synth/slave paradigm in Fallout 4.