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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Learning morality through gaming

Jordan Erica Webber
The Guardian
Originally published 13 August 2017

Here is an excerpt:

Whether or not you agree with Snowden’s actions, the idea that playing video games could affect a person’s ethical position or even encourage any kind of philosophical thought is probably surprising. Yet we’re used to the notion that a person’s thinking could be influenced by the characters and conundrums in books, film and television; why not games? In fact, games have one big advantage that makes them especially useful for exploring philosophical ideas: they’re interactive.

As any student of philosophy will tell you, one of the primary ways of engaging with abstract questions is through thought experiments. Is Schrödinger’s cat dead or alive? Would you kill one person to save five? A thought experiment presents an imagined scenario (often because it wouldn’t be viable to perform the experiment in real life) to test intuitions about the consequences.

Video games, too, are made up of counterfactual narratives that test the player: here is a scenario, what would you do? Unlike books, film and television, games allow you to act on your intuition. Can you kill a character you’ve grown to know over hours of play, if it would save others?

The article is here.