Best Of Member Blogs & Comments: Ideas & Morals

Showcasing highlights from Gamasutra's Member Blogs and comments, we hand out lifetime Game Developer magazine subscriptions to a post - and resultant discussion - of in-game morality.
In our weekly Best of Member Blogs & Comments column, we showcase notable pieces of writing from members of the game community who maintain Member Blogs on Gamasutra, or post responses to them. Member Blogs can be maintained by any registered Gamasutra user, while invitation-only Expert Blogs -- also highlighted weekly -- are written by selected development professionals. Our favorite blog post of the week will earn its authors a lifetime subscription to Gamasutra's sister publication, Game Developer magazine. Similarly, we will choose one blog comment, responding to either a Member or Expert post, and its writer will also receive a lifetime subscription. (All magazine recipients outside of the United States or Canada will receive lifetime electronic subscriptions.) We hope that our blog sections can provide useful and interesting viewpoints on our industry. For more information, check out the official posting guidelines. This Week's Standout Member Blogs - Morality In Video Games (Adam Bishop) For all the morality systems and branching paths that make their way into games, graduate student Adam Bishops argue that most of them miss the mark in their attempt to convey meaningful ethical nuance. He also points to what he sees as a dead end in that pursuit: "[One] reason that systems of morality in games tends to be somewhat ham-fisted is the desire for 'game balance,'" he writes. "It completely kills any sense of meaning in the player's actions, since they know that no matter what the do, the result will be the same." For his effort, Adam will receive a lifetime subscription to Gamasutra sister publication Game Developer magazine. - I Love This Game. So Why Won't I Finish It? (Garth DeAngelis) Video games are frequently set in dismal and demolished environments, and many use those settings to great tonal effect -- but are they sometimes all too effective? Graduate student Garth DeAngelis kicked off a lively discussion in the comments by considering why, despite his considerable appreciation for Bethesda's Fallout 3, he found himself reluctant to immerse himself in its world. "I want to play it," he writes, "but on the other hand, I don’t want to experience such a downtrodden atmosphere." - The "Ideas" Guy (Kimberly Unger) With a post that generated a number of in-depth replies, producer Kimberly Unger addressed an area of game creation that prospective developers can often overlook: just being an "ideas guys" isn't enough to succeed. "Ideas, I hate to say, are a dime a dozen, especially in an industry as creative as our inherently tends to be," she points out. - The Birth of ARGs (Rayna Anderson) Alternate reality games feel almost ubiquitous now, particularly in the world of video game marketing. But not long ago, they were in their infancy; The Beast, created to promote Steven Spielberg's film A.I., was arguably the first modern example of the form. With this reprinted 2001 interview of the game's writer, designer Rayna Anderson provides an interesting look back at that project's intent. - What is a Role Playing Game? (Robert Corrina) RPGs are among the most mechanically-explicit games to be released -- and yet many gamers have differing views as to what exactly comprises one. In an exhaustive post, Robert Corrina delves into what an RPG is, and what it should be. This Week's Standout Blog Comment - Jeff Beaudoin on Adam Bishop's Morality in Video Games This week's highlighted blog comment comes from Jeff Beaudoin, responding to one of this week's Member Blogs highlights about the expression of morality in games. Beaudoin replied to Adam Bishop's original post with a number of disagreements, and Bishop further replied with rebuttals and clarifications, creating an exchange that ended up significantly deepening the level of discussion on the issue. For his effort, Jeff will receive a lifetime subscription to Game Developer magazine.

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