Mark Thompson, level design director on Far Cry 3, has said while the game is about "killing people to win," it's main goal is to portray the personal toll exacted upon "someone who becomes a hero."
Speaking with Polygon, Thompson said before coming to the island in the game, the main character Jason has never used a gun before, let alone killed anyone; yet, in order to rescue his friends from the island's miscreants, he'll have to do things which only a "bad guy" would consider.
"He's not being a bad guy. He's just doing the things he needs to do to survive and rescue his friends," said Thompson. "It's not about right and wrong or good and bad. That's why the Far Cry games don't have morality systems, there isn't this rigid dichotomy of good and bad in the world, so why reflect that in the game?
"We don't say whether something is good or bad. We don't judge players. Ultimately the game is about killing, and we know that, so we don't want to condescend. The game asks you to shoot. The game is about killing people to win. So we wanted to make sure we wrote a story that understood that. The story is about killing, the story is about Jason ... Jason comes to the island and he's never fired a gun before, he's never killed before. So the story really explores what it means to become, the things he has to do to become a hero.
"The game is about what is the cost of becoming a hero. What is the personal toll that is exacted upon someone who becomes a hero."
Thompson said he has a respect for those ask why the character kills so many in a game, as it's a sign that "the audience is maturing," and "as developers, we have to respect the people who consume the content."
"We have to respect that the palates of people are becoming a little bit more sophisticated," he said. "For sure we'll still have the summer blockbusters, but there is a space for a more nuanced narrative, something that isn't afraid to tackle issues that video games haven't been tackling because they've been focusing on power fantasies and fantasies about being the ultimate soldier.
"We never see the scenes six months after the event when John McClane [in Die Hard] wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat seeing Hans Gruber falling from Nakatomi. [PTSD] is an important part of what Jason goes through on the island.
"We want to address all of the issues that would happen to a normal person who is put through this kind of situation."
Far Cry 3 hits PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in November.