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ethics in SWTOR - good or bad?

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ethics in SWTOR - good or bad?

MadsPedersen's Avatar

06.14.2012 , 03:40 PM | #1
Hello everyone!
I am currently working on a paper at the university on ethics in videogames. SWTOR is a bit different from other games since it has built ethics into the game through the alignment-system. Since I want SWTOR to be a case-stydy in my paper I was just wondering what people think of the alignment-system: does it in any way influence the way you play or make you more immersed in your character? My own experience of it is, that instead of making me consider the ethics of the jedi vs. the sith I quickly started to just go for the points in either the 'good' or the 'evil' direction since I figured I would get better gear of whatever that way. On the other hand - when I tried to choose the evil path it often made me feel bad (yes I know it's just a game - but still) so I found it hard to actually play a truly evil character. In that sense the alignment-system actually made me think about my own IRL morality - maybe..??
Well any inputs would be greatly appreciated!

bknemesis's Avatar

06.14.2012 , 04:24 PM | #2
It depends on how you want to approach the paper, I'd recommend picking 3 contrasting schools of ethics, like utilitarianism, and something from Hobbes or Kant, maybe even feminist ethics, then apply them to a series of cases.

An example would be, A imperial officer is about to escape with a bomb schematic that will kill hundreds if not thousands of people if left unchecked, but to make his escape he set the self destruct device for the base. Do you A: go after him and recover the plans leaving a few people to die (DS) or B: Deactivate the Self destruct saving a few people but leaving the galaxy open to random bombings which kill thousands (LS)

For this example, Utilitarianism would say that the dark side approach of leaving the base to die to save thousands of people from random bombings to be the most ethical, as the needs or happiness of the many out weight the needs or happiness of the few. Kant would tell you to do what would gives you the most "joy" which works either way, saving a few now or saving thousands later, it's subjective to the individual. Feminist ethics could support the DS solution also since it calls for the equal treatment of all and a empathetic approach to dealing with decisions, so you would kill everyone in the base and feel bad about it but with all things equal 10 people in the base aren't worth a thousand people someplace else.

In conclusion argue shades of grey for an A, worked for me writing a paper on torture.

MadsPedersen's Avatar

06.15.2012 , 02:21 PM | #3
Thank you very much for your input!

Lord_Thorne's Avatar

06.15.2012 , 05:03 PM | #4
Personally, I enjoy and appreciate the alignment system in SWTOR. It's not always what I expect, and it does make me think sometimes and even wonder what the writers were reaching for in particular situations.
What I find most interesting is other people's reactions - I have a couple of real-life/face-to-face friends who almost always play imperial becuase they got too frustrated with the choices on the republic side: they weren't allowed to simply execute people whent hey thought it justified, or couldn't stand the choices offered. The primary and early example is the quest on Ord Mantell, where you recover stolen medical supplies, and if you give them to the doctor for refugee use, you get lightside points; but if you return them to the wounded soldiers, you get darkside points! It surprised me how much of a huff this put them in; I considered it an intersting dilemma, and would have liked to see some more exploration and discussion of this kind of thing (is there a dev blog on this or anything?). Considering that, of the three of us, I'm the one you would expect to have the strongest objections to evil (yeah, I'm pretty religious, especially for a gamer), I'm surprised by their reaction. I've got some theories on that, but I'm too long-winded already.

In beta, I played a nearly-total darksider and a nearly-total lightsider; since release, I've played heavily toward lightsiders, because I find that more fun and more rewarding; I also find that to really be dedicated to one extreme or the other requires some choices which I consider illogical or inconsistent in terms of a coherent character or behavior pattern - for example, my patriotic, duty-dedicated Imperial Agent ran into a couple of places where the choice to truly benefit the Empire is the light side! It may be reflecting my own (heavy) bias toward light, but it seems to me that, overall, it is easier to build a consistent, reasonable lightsider (not pure by any means, but enough to reach Light V by the end), while to chase darkside points, you have to run around kicking puppies for no good reason except to just be evil.
Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.
(If this game has taught me anything, it's the incredible immaturity, bitterness, and selfishness of a sadly large segment of the MMO and Star Wars communities.)

MadsPedersen's Avatar

06.16.2012 , 05:30 PM | #5
Thank you for the answer. I agree that being a total darksider gets rather frustrating because you end of doing mindless evil stuff just for the points and there is no real pleasure in executing prisoners and so forth in the long run. On the other hand, I found playing a total lightsider almost as frustrating since the choices you have to take are almost ridiciously naive and silly compared to any real life ethics. It is like you are never allowed to have a mature or realistic worldview but always have to play the role as if you knew nothing of real life consequenses of always telling the truth, always doing things by the book etc. I found myself getting bored by it and the last char I made was a sith lightsider cause at least that made for some bit more interesting choices. In regards to my paper I have wondered if the problem of the alignmens-system isn't that it tries to cook ethics into 3 simple choices whereas ethics to me is much more about the nuances of it all - and the ability to navigate in the grey rather than being all black or white?
Anyway...what I was also wondering was...does the aligment-system has any impact on how you play your char vis-a-vis other players? does it have any effect on how you communicate or act when in group with other players. To me it doesn't ...and then the ethics of it all seems just a gimmick rather than a really interessting new aspect of MMOPG's?

Eillack's Avatar

06.16.2012 , 06:26 PM | #6
I believe Republic should be the greater focus. For the Republic, "small" choices like the Ord Mantel example makes you stop for a second and wonder "Both of these choice are technically 'right' but which result can I 'live' with?"

The Republic (Trooper as an example) storylines have the hardest choices. As a member of the Republic you are to set an example, and be the "good guy." You save, not kill. You are prepare to even sacrifice yourself for the Republic and its beliefs. Near the end of the Trooper arc...
...this is another example on how Republic had more meaningful choices.

In the Empire, you just kill people just because you are expected to. The genocide and anything else you do just feels boring...I can't explain it but the Empire is just like that and we know it.