I’m nearly done posting about GalCiv II, but I have one more nitpickto add to the list I made the other day.
As you play, the game presents you with various moral challenges. For example, you find some planet with cave-men type creatures. Do you:
- Leave them alone, even though they are taking up space you could put to use? (Good)
- Put them on a reservation and keep the rest of the planet to yourself? (Neutral)
- Enslave them? (Evil)
Good choices usually have a penalty. Neutral usually have little or no effect, and evil choices usually have some benefit.
There are two types of choices you must make:
- Choices which benefit your empire (and thus your people), usually at the expense of other non-sentient lifeforms. Sometimes the choice is between your empire and an ideal, such as preserving a unique environment or ancient ruins.
- Choices which benefit your empire at the expense of your people. For example, you may find a way to sacrifice the lives of your own people to gain some technology.
It’s the first type of choice that bugs me. Forcing your people to make sacrifices on behalf of other lifeforms is “good” in this game, but I think you can make the case that this is tyranny. If I force my people to give up awesome land because I don’t want to disturb the ruins of some long-gone race, I don’t thank that should count as a “good” decision. It’s all well and good to sit on a throne and feel smug that you are respecting the dead or preserving history (or whatever your rationale is) but it’s quite another if you’re the one living in a tiny house next to a spacious historical reserve. From that perspective, the leader, (the player) looks like an arrogant tyrant who forces their values (or the values of the programmers, really) on others.
If I have a choice of benefitting my own species or another species, I don’t think it’s evil to choose my own species.
It is possible to make choices throughout the game that contribute to the general comfort and prosperity of your people. Sometimes this will be at the expense of others (like booting cave-men off their land or killing dangerous creatures), sometimes at the expense of an ideal (tearing down aincent ruins to make room for your people) and sometimes at the expense of the empire as a whole (by spending money to save your people from some calamity). If you play this way you’ll usually end up with an “evil” alignment, which doesn’t make sense to me. A leader who forces his people to make some sacrifice on behalf of another group is, I think, a rotten leader. Your race is fighting for survival in this game, and I don’t think it is evil to fight to live, even if it means some lower species end up paying the price.
If you take this system where benefitting your race at the expense of lower lifeforms is wrong, and follow it to its logical conclusion, you end up with an all vegan race who refuse to use animals to assist with manual labor. Call me callous, but I don’t think our ancestors who ate beef and used oxen to plow the field were an evil bunch set on covering the world in darkness. They were just fighting for survival. Geeze, give an upright biped a break already.
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