Don’t Shoot the Civilians, Leave the Garden Gnomes Alone

I don’t know about you but when I play a game, I oftentimes play it to break it. I want to see what the game will allow me to do. For instance, in EA’s The Sim’s, I would often try and figure out the best way to off my virtual characters. If this meant removing the ladder from the pool and watching them swim until they died, then I would do it. In Fallout 3, I made the terrible choice to blow up a town, which you can read about here.

RockPaperShotgun had an article awhile back about why you can’t shoot civilians in Battlefield 3. When asking the game’s executive producer, Patrick Bach, why this is so, he responded:

“In a game where it’s more authentic, when you have a gun in your hand and a child in front of you what would happen? Well the player would probably shoot that child.”

Now if you are anything like me, you’d probably shoot the kid just to see if you can. Back when the original Medal of Honor: Allied Assault came out, I remember trying to shoot my fellow soldiers just to see if I could. In a way, I was just testing out the game world’s rules to see what they were. That is not to say that if I was in the actual Army, I would try and shoot my fellow soldiers. I have a firm grasp on what consequences are in the real world versus consequences in a game. I know that if Mario accidently misses a jump and falls in a hole he is dead unless I have an extra guy to continue playing. Patrick Bach, however, doesn’t see this as a testing of virtual world rules. He instead thinks it is due to:

if you put the player in front of a choice where they can do good things or bad things, they will do bad things, go dark side – because people think it’s cool to be naughty, they won’t be caught…

Wait, did a game developer just admit that humans are by nature depraved, even evil? Continuing to read the article, we see that Bach isn’t as concerned about morals as he is of being blamed for others virtual acts.

 We would be the ones to be blamed. We have to build our experiences so we don’t put the player in experiences where they can do bad things.

That almost sounds like Bach thinks that games are more than just virtual experiences. I can almost hear in his quote on limitations that he realizes he has a responsibility to his audience.

Me personally, I’m trying to stay away from civilians in games like BF because I think people will do bad. I don’t want to see videos on the internet where people shoot civilians. That’s something I will sanitise by removing that feature from the game.

I tie all of the above into the following thought:

What if God had decided not to give us free will?

In Romans 1, we see that God is known to everyone:

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Looking around, we can see God’s handywork all around us. We are without excuse. However, those that wish to embrace that which was created versus the Creator have a choice.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

What is crazy, is that their choice leads to sin and eventually death:

32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

I am proud to serve a Creator that lets me choose my own choices in this life. One that will forgive me for all the Sims I left stranded in the pool. He is the ultimate executive producer in that He holds nothing back and freely gave of His own son so that we may spend eternity with Him. God doesn’t care about what the crowd thinks, He cares for you and me.

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