Tag Archives: choice

The Cruel Realities of NPCs

So, I’ve been playing Star Trek: Online a lot lately. It’s excellent, and I highly recommend it—not least because it’s F2P. I’m nothing if not a cheap bastard.

One of the aspects of the game that I’ve enjoyed the most is the Duty Officer system, kind of hybrid between Pokemon-type card games and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance‘s mission system. In short, players get a set of minor officers (Duty Officers, or Doffs for short) with various specialties that can be assigned to a rotating list of available side missions. After a certain period (between 30 minutes and 24+ hours), the assignment will conclude and either reward the player with some loot or end in failure (and possibly the “death” of the Doff). Importantly—at least for this post—these assignments are carried out autonomously; the player assigns the officers (and tries to maximize the profits and minimize the risk of failure by choosing appropriate skills and traits) but the gods of RNG mostly control the outcome. These Doffs are bots “managed” by the player.

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Battlefield 3 and “realistic” war

So, unless you never watch TV (and people like that actually exist, right?), you’ve probably been bombarded by ads for Battlefield 3. Yes, I sort-of want to play it (even though am not a huge shooter fan). Yes, it looks very good. Indeed, the ads claim that it’s “the most realistic shooter” ever. Which made me wonder: what does it mean to play a “hyper-realistic” shooter set in a current and on-going conflict? Is it morally problematic to “play” at things that everyday Americans are living “for real”–and even dying “for real”? I can see at least 2 and 1/2 ways of breaking this down:  
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