Daniel Floyd posted a youtube video on the mechanics of moral choices in video games. My comments after the video.
I agree with Floyd that moral choices in video games are just dichotomies to the point that players don’t think a lot when it’s so easy to choose. I went through my playthrough of Mass Effect balancing between my renegade and paragon points just for the challenge and I wasn’t really concerned about the characters’ plight or the consequences later in the story. The only thing that mattered during that playthrough was saving the council (because they were my bosses, even if they were assholes).
From a social scientist’s point of view, moral choices in video games can be useful for youth’s moral development. Video games won’t be teaching the children, but children will explore their choices and experience the outcomes as it was not possible with traditional media. The moral choice system would be designed to their developmental stage to avoid boring older children and at the same time, help them think of their actions. For example, simple “good vs. bad” moral system would be appropriate for kindergarten-aged kids, while “faction-based” moral system would be helpful for children to learn cultural differences. The games need not be based on real life, but it should be in the veins of a fairy tale, much like the traditional stories of the last centuries. One implication is that video games can be used as a supplement to children’s moral development, perhaps the cognitive schemes they’ve developed during play would show up in other situations as well and it might as well diversify their media diet, anyway.