Moral Dilemma


Moral Dilemmas present themselves in games whenever they intend to reward the player for being evil, and punish the player for being good. Almost exclusively seen in games with a morality system in place, moral dilemmas will typically demand sacrifice from the player for some greater good, giving the player a choice to be selfish. Sometimes, these choices also have long term effects.

Variables and Affordances

  • Immediate Punishment for making good choice/reward for making evil choice
  • Amount of morality points shifted by choice (typically directly tied into the punishment or reward, the greater the stakes, the more of your morality is at stake)
  • Effect on game world


  • Fable 2, when facing the shadow council for the hero of skill, the player finds that they demand the soul of whoever holds a talisman. The player can be evil and force someone else to wear the talisman, killing them but saving themselves, or the player can bear the burden to save a stranger, causing significant aging to the player.
  • Fallout 3 blowing up Megaton in Fallout 3 gets the player a penthouse suite, but the player then misses out on many quest opportunities in the town. However, refusing to destroy the town gets a hit put out on the player's head, and mercenaries will follow the player throughout the rest of the game, occasionally ambushing the player.

In Worked Examples

patterns/moral_dilemma_quest.txt ยท Last modified: 2011/07/09 00:12 by Gillian Smith Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki do yourself a favour and use a real browser - get firefox!! Recent changes RSS feed Valid XHTML 1.0