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March 4th, 2007, 16:15
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Moral choices can be placed in games and have been successfully; the Fallouts for example, and from what I've read, The Witcher will also. Unfortunately, Diablo sold better!! That's the bottom line for a publisher.
You may be right Corwin, but I'm still not entirely convinced that we in this thread constitute only a niche market . There are other possible reasons why games like Fallout and Planescape were less of a commercial success compared to Diablo (e.g. the turn-based combat and unusual settings).
If Oblivion had simply provided a more mentally stimulating and morally challenging storyline, I just can't believe it would have sold less copies as a result.

The sad part is, it's not a lack of writing that's the problem. RPG publishers are frequently putting more than a novel's worth of text/speech into their games. So why is the writing generally so trite and simplistic? Is it a result of the lack of quality among game writers as abbaon suggested, or due to the constraints imposed on them by higher-ups who prefer to adhere to the same old formulas that have 'worked' in the past?

As for dealing with serious, morally complex issues in games, I would disagree with Sawyer when he says:

"These subjects are either never broached or are explored through proxies that defuse the seriousness of what is being discussed. E.g. elves and dwarves might express shallow "fantasy" racism against each other, but you're probably never going to see two humans with different skin colors express racism toward each other in a serious exchange."

Allegory is a very powerful device; some of the most memorable works of literature make use of imaginary worlds to impart a serious message about society. A concept such as racism can be just as poignantly demonstrated between an elf and a dwarf if it is told in a compelling way so as to ellicit guilt or sympathy from the player. You can even make someone feel sorry for a rat if you try hard enough - I'm reminded of that comic which someone posted in the Off-Topic forum in which a slain rat carries in his inventory an illustrated letter from his kids that reads 'Daddy, we love you, please come home'
A fantasy setting tends to hold greater appeal for our escapist desires and is often less threatening than a contemporary one; for that reason I believe it to be a potentially more effective medium for the treatment of challenging subjects.
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