Violence, chaos, and aggression.
These words are among the first brought up when talking about video games. There are people who are willing to convince others that video games are detrimental. This is at any cost. Especially to one’s mental health. The stereotypical gamer is one who is playing in their mother’s basement. They have Dorito chip dust crusting their fingers. As well as the corners of their mouths and controller joysticks.
But, that perception is changing . More and more plot-driven video games are making their way into mainstream gaming. Drawing in crowds of all ages – both new and old gamers alike. A report from Nielsen bares the truth for all to read. Over 60 percent of Americans self-identify as gamers. Many people play to wind down, beat a mission, or countless other reasons. There is an unexpected consequence that has risen to the surface.
People are learning their morality from video games, in a good way.
“Undertale” took 2015 by storm. It took the 8-bit graphics from earlier games and combined it with a stellar soundtrack. Along with a haunting message which will linger for days, weeks and years to come.
The game starts with a short clip. It tells the tale of the brutal outcome that came from monsters and humans living together as one. The player feels guilty before even starting the game. As if they had a hand in what happened between the humans and monsters.
Immediately, the player is thrust into the world of “Undertale.” The first step is to talk to a character named Flowey who acts as a bastardization of a tutorial character. Frisk is immediately rescued and taken in by a sentient goat woman named Toriel. She has an incomparable mother-like instinct and wants to make sure that Frisk is safe at all costs.
Toriel makes Frisk a cinnamon butterscotch pie. She also calls them often, and guides them through the craziness which is the Ruins. The underground habitat to which many monsters retreated after the fallout with humans.
But Frisk is a human, and wants to go home. Upon leaving, Toriel tries to stop them many times. The player forced into a battle with Toriel. For many first-time players, they have no idea that there is a way to spare every single character in “Undertale.” So, many end up killing Toriel. And the player feels like crawling into bed and crying, never to see the light of day again.
“Undertale” doesn’t need you to spare everyone. The developer, TobyFox, made each character sympathetic, funny and great to be around. There is a catch though. Any choice the player makes will stay with them, regardless of if they want it to or not.
And in that moment, the player realizes: they have the choice to be kind, always.
“Life is Strange” is another title that shows the player that they have the power to be kind in a world in which someone does not need to be.
The player plays as Max Caulfield, who recently moved back to her hometown in Oregon. To reconnect with all the contacts and friends she had lost, she goes through life and tries to make amends. That is, if the player wants to. This is another game that forces players to make choices that will end in long-term outcomes.
“Life is Strange” vibes with the Butterfly Effect. A theory with the statement: “small actions can have big consequences.” The player learns that they have the power to save or abandon people, to suspect or forgive, to love or forget.
Video games have the power to teach people morality. Also, one’s morality can be self-discovered through these avenues of art. While people sometimes know their moral compass before playing games such as “Undertale” and “Life is Strange.” Games like these can introduce younger folks of the world who are learning about who they are.
The future of video games will be an interesting journey, to say the least. With the recent emergence of story-based games, there is no telling what the narrative may be. The medium is powerful and has the ability to enact real-life change. Be it on the morality of an individual person or a larger group at hand.