I am at a lucky stage of my parenting journey the place I’ve a son sufficiently old to have a girlfriend sensible sufficient to provide genuinely considerate items to her boyfriend’s dad at Christmas. That is how I got here to unwrap Ten Issues Video Video games Can Train Us (About Life, Philosophy and All the things) by Jordan Erica Webber and Daniel Griliopoulos. Books are a dangerous factor to provide as items as a result of they, like video video games, require an funding of time. You don’t throw them on calloused ft like a sock or slap them about your drained face like an aftershave. Or vice versa relying on the odor of your ft or coldness of your face.
I discover educational books about video video games personally ironic as a result of within the 90s I wrote and offered a BBC Radio 4 present known as Are Books Useless? the place I argued that video video games had made the written phrase redundant. This was clearly a silly query, however this was the last decade of creating loud statements with out requiring intelligence to again them up, simply one of many causes it was such an excellent time to be alive, and why Liam Gallagher was its hero.
The primary chapter proposes that video video games are one of the best medium to hold out philosophical thought experiments as a result of moderately than sitting in a instructor’s lounge consuming cheese and ingesting wine (which was the ridiculously fantastic location of my very own philosophy A-level courses) and discussing whether or not the wants of the various actually do outweigh the wants of the few in a hypothetical word-flavoured utilitarian philosophy state of affairs, in a online game you get to reside that thought experiment in gloriously immersive graphics as a very engaged actor.
It’s an exquisite e book which makes me take into account video games extra. They’re performed at such whipcrack velocity I don’t usually weigh up the selections with any deep thought, as a result of aliens are chasing me as an infernal timer counts down.
The e book provides the instance from Mass Impact 3 the place you determine whether or not to avoid wasting Admiral Koris or his 5 crew members from the Geth. It’s a query of utilitarian philosophy – “the wants of the various outweigh the wants of the few” – thrown right into a curveball as a result of should you do rescue his crew and let him die a load of officers lose their collective minds in panic and fly to their doom killing oodles greater than the unique 5.
However the downside with video games as thought experiments for me is that this wasn’t a remotely difficult determination. As a gamer I knew saving Koris would end in a greater end result than preserving his tiny crew alive. The crew aren’t going to do something to assist me down the road as a result of they don’t have lengthy difficult names comparable to Admiral Zaal’Koris vas Qwib-Qwib. Strive discovering a badge with that on it in a vacation reward store.
It was the fitting determination as a gamer, however the sport doesn’t enable us the scope to see if a kind of crew members went on to remedy most cancers. However do I need to be grappling with these lofty points when what I actually need is to unlock the particular ending by getting essentially the most factors and having that loopy massive bastard gun for my subsequent playthrough? Video games are presupposed to be enjoyable, eh?
The writers argue that the “enjoyable” side of video video games is exactly what makes them a extra user-friendly medium for philosophy than books and in a world the place, because the e book states “few governments take philosophy critically sufficient to make it obligatory in colleges”, video games often is the solely place youngsters can be taught concerning the topic. That is miserable as all hell. And nearly actually nonetheless appropriate in the present day. (The e book was revealed in 2017).
Video games are additionally suited to philosophical discourse since you don’t must get your head round loopy theoretical conditions. You play them. You see them. You don’t must argue with individuals saying “however I can’t really journey again in time to kill Hitler as a child” as a result of in video games you conceivably may. (Think about Wolfenstein IV: Hitler Hospital.) We droop disbelief each time we swap on a console. Whether or not that’s a plumber rising after consuming a mushroom or Arbroath successful the European Champions League in FM in 2024. In actual life I’m by no means going to be in a scenario the place I select the life of 1 over 5 (hopefully). In video video games, I can.
I simply want extra of them gave you these decisions. The Final of Us offered the last word take a look at of utilitarian philosophy: does Joel sacrifice Ellie to avoid wasting the human race? However as a participant you don’t get a selection in that – Ellie should reside – and, like saving these 5 pink shirts in Mass Impact 3, it wasn’t the proper resolution in spite of everything: different calamities ensued, and the sequel was coping with these. It might be fascinating if Naughty Canine made a model the place you may let Ellie die. Alternate universe video games sequels!
I would really like these choices, in any other case when I’m confronted with a selection in video games, I don’t have a look at them as inspiring methods to check philosophical thought experiments or morality. I’m going with what is going to get me essentially the most factors. I used to be introduced up on arcade video games the place the one measure of success was including to a quantity. My youngsters’ technology are completely different. They grew up with video games the place you blew petals round or skilled life as a mountain, and there was no rating in any respect. They’ve been allowed to think about, fairly actually, all the pieces.