Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Do you feel like a hero yet?

Heron, Michael James; Belford, Pauline Helen


Michael James Heron

Pauline Helen Belford


Video games have a long tradition of including elements of moral decision making within their ludic and narrative structures. While the success of these endeavours has been mixed, the systems used to express moral choices within a game have grown more popular. However, these morality systems are inherently restricted and limited by ludic and business considerations. Coupled to this is the concept of the magic circle in which games are considered to be morally discontinuous spaces where the normal rules of what actions are and are not permitted are different. Moral choices then become flattened down into mere narrative flavouring rather than a reflection of an individuals ethical makeup. Moral choices within games are thus shallow and lack the ability to truly offer us an opportunity to reflect on the actions we have taken. Rather than offering insight, they instead cheapen and simplify nuanced topics and concepts. However, several games released in the past few years have made an effort to break free of this mould by explicitly externalising moral choices. In this paper we discuss two of these games: Popes 2013 title Papers, Please and Yager Developments 2012


HERON, M.J. and BELFORD, P.H. 2014. Do you feel like a hero yet? Externalized morality in video games. Journal of games criticism [online], 1(2). Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 30, 2014
Online Publication Date Jun 30, 2014
Deposit Date Oct 28, 2015
Publicly Available Date Oct 28, 2015
Journal Journal of games criticism
Print ISSN 2374-202X
Electronic ISSN 2374-202X
Publisher Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 2
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations