Karma System in Videogames — And How it Teaches Us Something

Cover Box Art from videogame inFamous

Life is a lifelong journey full of experiences and people anew. And as such, we are object to occasional surprises, good or bad — and situations so unique that I believe that everyday always teaches us something. Even a boring day that is so boring, so bland, so dull, can teaches us something in the end.

I believe that is because we made choices. Even not making any choice is a choice. And as we further progress, technology and design has also reached a point where we can make choices, sort of like immersive roleplaying…where your main character choices could actually affect the world and the ending of their journey.

I played a lot of videogames that offers you a chance to be a tritagonist. Where you can be a goody-two shoes or a villain. And as life evolves all around you ( just like the real life itself ), it teaches you something.

In videogame inFamous, between the choice of saving your girlfriend or ten doctors, you are object to one of the most famous trolley dilemma. To save someone dearest to you or some random stranger. That you don’t know at all and their life never crosses yours at any point, up until now. And oh boy, does the choice you pick really gave you the goosebumps. It made for a very great storyline, an example of a well-written videogame.

In videogame Fallout, between the choice of donating your companion as a slave in exchange for a few money or keep him during your adventure is a keen example of how cruel post-apocalyptic world can be. And karma system can rewards you for either your evil or good deeds, so the choice is yours. Being an evil gun-for-hire? Being a messiah in the middle of no named land? Go for it. I could say that all the choices yields an equally interesting conversations, point of view from others, and how the world view you in general…I could even say that I take a few pointers here and there from such videogames to be included in my own novel world building.

In videogame Undertale, you could complete the game without killing anyone in the process — contrary to how modern RPGs are played. In doing so, all of your acquaintances never have to worry about their world slaughtered by you, and turned ally in the end. Such story that doesn’t require you to kill the enemies are rare ( I can only think of this game, actually! ). More over than the storytelling itself, it also gave us a fresh perspective and take-on to modern RPGs.

In videogame Mass Effect, you could side with one planet, each with their own population — who, in the world of international relations — might have their clashes and disagreements with others. Who you side with might cause the others to show displeasure or happiness, depending on a lot of things in the background, just like international countries on one another work. It teaches me how fictional countries actually interact with each other, each with their own turmoil and drama.

In videogame Outer World, you can choose to reroute the electric grid either to a town full of workers, or to a greenhouse that is inhabited by the workers that has been deemed to sick by the factory, and had to relocate. Whatever your choice is, people are going to be affected by it. And what’s more, you don’t know how much it would hurt to the other side.

There are a lot of games that does the same thing ( it will be too long to list them all ), from action to telltale games, from horror to side-scrolling games, and the karma system add some spices to those games, if not else. Some gamers enjoy being themselves and as true as their real world personality and some others enjoy being someone new — kind of like their own alter ego in games.

I sure do hope more and more games could be more story-driven and actually have a branching stories and endings, as it also increases their replay value…it teaches you something about the characters, the world, the story, and so much more!

When I was young, videogame has saved me several times from being depressed and having no friends, and believe it or not, teaches me a lot of English, and probably has made me who I am right now,

And I hope it have a similar effect on you! I will be really happy if you have a similar experience as mine, as with millions of others with videogame. As inspirational and as uplifting as these videogames could be, there is always room for one more great game — hoping you can find ( and create ) great games in the future!





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Alessandro Mulya

Alessandro Mulya


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