InFamous 2 and the Five Commandments of Morality Scales
By Walker Banerd
In 2001, Electronic Arts released Black & White, wherein players took the role of a god who relied on the belief of villagers for his power. Belief could be generated through helpful acts, or through destruction and terror. So novel was this hook, that it was featured right there in the title of the game: Black & White. In 2001, the idea that players could choose the moral path of their character was much more remarkable than it is now. Morality scales of some kind pop up not just in RPGs, but also in action games of all types.
Eight years after Black & White, Sucker Punch released InFamous, a third-person action game that leaned heavily on the concept of moral decisions. InFamous, and its 2011 sequel, use a karmic scale to measure the rise of their protagonist into heroism, or his descent into supervillainy. InFamous 2 in particular, uses the morality scale concept in both intriguing and frustrating ways. Sometimes it feels groundbreaking, and other times like an empty gimmick. So using InFamous 2 as our main case study, I’d like to propose five commandments that games could follow to get the most out of their morality systems. Not all of these suggestions would work in the same game, but they are guidelines to follow when applicable.
Let’s get to the thou shalts after the break. Read the rest of this entry