IFComp 2012: The Test is Now READY

Spoilers follow the break.

So, what we have here is a disjointed sequence of classical ethical conundrums in IF form. Do you torture a man to stop the ticking time bomb? Do you throw the switch to make the runaway train crash into your own son instead of a carful of strangers? At the end, there’s a scrap of frame-tale that attempts to tie it all together, and you get an evaluation of what your decisions show about you, involving terms like “Other-Oriented”. At that moment, it all seems like one of those personality tests that used to be popular on social networking sites. Within the scenarios themselves, it reminded me more of Fox, Fowl, and Feed from the 2007 Comp, because of the way it concretizes something normally abstract. The result here isn’t the practical complications that made FF&F difficult, but just a greater sense of the reality of the situation. It’s one thing to just say “Sure, I’d sacrifice one person for the greater good”, and quite another to get to know the guy first.

Even so, it seems to me that the IF format skews things a bit. Single decisive actions just have a lot less friction to them than typing “Z” repeatedly as a decision to not act. The very first scenario, set in a zombie apocalypse, lets you kill another man for the last dose of antidote, or kill yourself to keep from turning. I personally shot the other immediately on realizing that I had a gun in my inventory. I didn’t even know I was infected yet. I just wanted to see if the game would let me do it.

Regardless, it always seemed to me that the point of these philosophical questions was the discussion they provoke. You’re not just supposed to make a decision, you’re supposed to try to justify it. Making a game of it loses that aspect entirely.

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