Following the 2013 Games for Change Festival, the Entertainment Software Association (the video game industry's biggest lobbying group) is promoting two games that challenge players with ethical questions in an effort to broaden a player's sense of right and wrong.
Games for Change 2013 Game of the Year Quandary puts players in a space colony where a new civilization can either prosper or die out due to the player's decisions. If you're used to grand strategy games, the example scenario given by the ESA might sound a little timid.
Players might discover that "a tailor is making special alterations for his friends—an action that some colonists complain is dividing the community. As the mediator, players must separate facts from opinions and consider all sides of the citizens' arguments." After making a choice, players will have their decisions judged by a Council of Elders.
The problem with promoting ethics via games like Quandary is that mainstream games have much more compelling scenarios for right-vs-wrong debate. Vigilance 1.0 sounds much more interesting or at least entertaining to play:
Vigilance 1.0 challenges players to catch crimes as they happen in a virtual city. Each time players correctly identify and punish wrongdoings—ranging from physical violence to littering and vagrancy—they receive in-game points, which boost the city's morality score. However, players lose points for accidentally punishing innocent citizens and must carefully consider their decisions before acting.
You can see Vigilance 1.0 in action above. For the full ESA update, click here.