Valve: Games contain strategic choices, not moral choices

Thursday, 30th July 2009 20:52 GMT By Stephany Nunneley


Valve writer Chet Faliszek has said that moral choices do not exist in games, despite titles like Fable, BioShock, inFamous, etc. claiming to contain such options.

“There’s never a real moral choice you’re ever making in a game, because you’re never going to have to live with that choice,” he told D’toid. “We do things in our game to get you to behave better, to make you play together, to have this interaction in a game, but I don’t think those are moral choices.

“I don’t think games allow you to make moral choices. Games allow you to be evil, to do bad things. In Grand Theft Auto, I’m going around running people over, and guess what, I’m not doing that in real life.

“So, in the context of games having moral choices, that’s a weird thing to me. I don’t think they have real moral choices when I think of that. They have something else, like strategic choices, choices inside their world, but to me a moral choice is something that would live outside of a game. I don’t see that.”

More through the link.



  1. Phoenixblight

    Only time I felt wrong with a choice in the game is when I popped that crazy scientist right in the mouth =-P

    #1 5 years ago
  2. Phoenixblight

    double post not sure how

    #2 5 years ago
  3. No_PUDding

    The 15 minute rule worked :D

    #3 5 years ago
  4. Anders

    He definitely has a point.

    #4 5 years ago
  5. Hunam

    I think he’s just being too clinical in his interpretation. He’s extrapolating the meaning to real world terms instead of the context in which they are based in the games.

    #5 5 years ago
  6. NiceFellow

    I agree with him, in so much as the games claiming to have moral choices don’t really.

    In Bioshock the choice, for example, was really do I behave in a way I know would be ‘good’ in reality, to get reward A (certain trophies, gifts, etc) or do I behave in a way I know would be ‘bad’ in reality, to get reward B (different Trophies, powers, etc).

    All games with supposed Moral choices are really just asking you to play differently to get different rewards – i.e. make strategic choices not moral ones.

    I do think games can have moral choices, however – it’s just that none do.

    #6 5 years ago
  7. antitheta

    Are you fing kidding me? Take fable for example, you put in 40-60 hours of time and you get to the end SPOILER ALERT! and you have to choose – give up your family & dog or don’t. If that’s not a moral choice I don’t know what is. I realized I would save the world and sacrifice my wife and dog. That is total bullsht if you think that’s not a moral choice. You are an idiot sir.

    #7 5 years ago
  8. Phoenixblight


    Was horrible ending and horrible choice, nothing was morale about it can get all endings with repeating saves…

    #8 5 years ago
  9. fearmonkey

    We could go the route of Steel batallion, where it deleted your gamesave if you died.
    You have one game save, you make a choice, it saves the game, and doesnt recognize any previous save, your stuck with your decisions. Im sure we all think that would be fun

    #9 5 years ago
  10. Phoenixblight

    @9 Talk about a nazi game =-P

    #10 5 years ago
  11. Spiral

    Can see his point, but don’t agree to an absolute interpretation. Often making the more moral decision just results in a different reward. In order to have a real moral choice you need to punish the player for making the correct decision, at least in the short to medium term. Fable didn’t give you any reward for choosing the needs of the many, and made certain quests impossible, so that would qualify in my view.

    #11 5 years ago
  12. Michael O'Connor

    I think he might have missed the point.

    It’s a little emotion people like to call “empathy”. I don’t have to live with the consequences of what happens in a book or a movie, but I still feel affected and moved by the situations, and they make me think.

    In the best of games, this is just as true.

    Your ability to change the direction of those choices is a powerful tool that game designers could use to tell some extremely thought provoking stories. Unfortunately, the implementation is often very weak – a very black and white form of “good” or “bad” actions. That’s about the one part I agree with in what he said.

    #12 5 years ago
  13. dirigiblebill

    Given the back-of-box-bullet-point ubiquity of “moral choice” nowadays, I’d say this kind of down-to-earth thinking is useful.

    #13 5 years ago

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