Sunday, 8 January 2012

Neutrality: The True Dark Path?

By now most of us have at least caught wind of games that make use of the age old morality scale which ranks our decisions on a linear scale ranging from the goody two shoes bastions of all that is holy all he way down to the most godless evil cretins with no sense of ethics of any kind.

A lot of game systems will just leave it at those two binary extremes and dish out rewards or punishments in certain scenarios dependent on how lovely or unlovely you tend to be in those pesky everyday moral dilemmas that seems to crop up all to frequently in modern RPGs. However with the Fallout series and others, special mention was given to those who maintained a 'Neutral' stance on their morality compass throughout the game. On a morality scale ranging from plus or minus 1000 respectively representing ultimate good and ultimate evil, true neutrality scores 0 on this scale which would suggest a perfect balance between good and evil. I couldn't disagree more. Those 'neutros' are the worst of the bunch.

Oh yeah? What about when push comes to shove?

To prove this point I have to show that being neutral is bad in of itself and that it is worse than being evil.To prove the former all I have to say that without some sort of internal calculus and deliberate strategy, it is very difficult to remain neutral. People have a natural tendency to be either good or bad most of the time, forsaking the other type of decision.If you don't blow up Megaton, chances are that apart from some petty or accidental thefts and kills, you will also tend to help the weak, punish the wicked and have an interest in seeing peaceful communities grow and flourish. Alternatively you might be a serial bastard and rob and pillage all that you see before you and only care for your own pleasures and comforts above all else. If the price is right, the bad guys of gaming will jettison all honour and trust out the window at any stage.

However to maintain Zero Karma status (or thereabouts) you have to be the kind of socio-path who reckons that killing an innocent shopkeeper can be cancelled out by donating enough to good causes later or that having done some good natured favours for a town entitles you to steal from it every now and then as long as it all balances out. There is no sense of conscience there at all. You're not being good for goodness' sake nor are you being evil because it's a means to the end of being happier. You're doing a mixture of both just for the sake of satisfying some arbitrary sense of 'not being involved'.

The true path to ultimate darkness....

Except that isn't true. At least when an evil character does bad things, it is towards the end of changing the world to their preferred shape in that they get to reap the rewards of deceit and unethical actions. Good and Evil are just two opposing preference profiles for how to change the world through your actions. Good benefits the whole whilst Evil benefits the sole. Neutral people shape the world when they interact with it but when an Evil person kills, they do it because they want  their goods and actively disrespect the rights of others but when a Neutral person kills, they do it for no particular reason or end goal it's just that they don't care whether it was bad or not which is worse.       

No comments:

Post a Comment

Enjoy the post? Got opinions? You mad? Let's hear from you!