Poll: Have You Ever Stopped Playing a Video Game On Moral Grounds?

Earlier today, we told you about a guy who successfully procured a refund for Bioshock Infinite on the grounds that an early scene in the game ran afoul of his religious beliefs.  He found that he simply could not do what the game asked of him and decided to stop playing.

Has that ever happened to you?  Have you ever stopped playing a video game on moral grounds?

If you check out the poll on the right side of this page, you'll find that question and a few responses ranging from "yes" to "no."  Vote in the poll and fill the comments and our email box (SuperPACpodcast@gmail.com) with your thoughts and opinions.

Me personally?  I'll do anything in a game.  It's not real so in-game actions, no matter how repugnant they may be in real life, don't phase me one bit.

But that's me.  What about you?

Is there an in-game action you could never bring yourself to perform?  What is it?  Are there any games that you've had to stop playing for moral reasons?  I'm interested in hearing the story.  Any games out there you refuse to play due to what it asks of the player?  Let us know what they are.

I'm especially curious to hear why some in-game actions might put you off but others do not.  For example, the guy who quit playing Bioshock Infinite decided to stop playing rather than participate in an in-game, religious ritual.  But, I assume, he would have had no problem with the game's highly-publicized combat which tasks you with gruesomely murdering nearly every person you come across with bullets, fireballs and flesh-eating crows.  That just strikes me as rather odd.

So, let's start a conversation and make with the enlightenment!

EZK and I will discuss this topic and your opinions on next week's Super Podcast Action Committee.  That's right, friends, the show is back with at least 50% less sniffling, coughing and sneezing!

"vote label" © Tribalium / Shutterstock. All rights reserved, used with permission.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen

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  1. hellfire7885 says:

    I can't say that I have since I know it's in a fictional world and my actions or what I saw cane be off the screen with the flick of a switch. Well, press of a button these days.

  2. Longjocks says:

    I've yet to study any philosophy which could adequately explain how clicking a keyboard button which has no direct ill-effect on the real world as an issue of morality. If you have a moral philosophy in which this can occur then you've got a steeper uphill battle to convince anyone of its validity than any religion (which is already on a backwards tilted sheer slope). The closest case you could make is the impact of your electricity usage on the environment as a moral issue, but that argument starts with your PC/console being turned on in the first place and is not specific to the game.

    Not playing a game on moral grounds because of game developer/publisher activities in the real world? Now we can talk morality.

  3. axiomatic says:

    No I have absolutely no problem separating my fictional game play from my real world scruples. I just don't understand where the two meet. In my mind they don't meet, ever. Bioshock Infinite tested that for me as well as I am not a fan of religions at all. Yet still enjoyed the game as an obvious work of fiction.

  4. RedMage says:

    When it comes to the content of the actual game, never, although I appreciate that people can do this without trumpeting the "BAN IT!" horn. A friend of mine has a brother overseas and it's painful for him to play military style shooters since he's been in combat zones.

    When it comes to the developer/publisher, I'm more willing to boycott. The thing about boycotts is that they only really affect the developer if it's a big publisher, since the publisher holds the studio accountable for sales figures and may axe the studio if the game sells poorly. That being said, Maxis lied as much as EA about SimCity, so I have no problem blaming Maxis.

  5. hellfire7885 says:

    I don't purchase EA games unless it's on consoles, however, I doubt they really keep track of where the money comes from, so I get apprehensive about purchasing games from certain publishers.

  6. Zen says:

    I've always found it interesting how games can cause a physical response in some people involving different fears.  

    For myself, I always had a fear of heights so every time I have to jump off of some really high area, or fell from one, I actually feel my stomach tighten and that moment of worry/fear hits me even though I completely understand none of it is real.  I remember writing an article about it back with the original Crackdown when I had to jump off of the tower for an achievement lol.  

  7. Papa Midnight says:

    Ironically enough, I look at the copy of Amnesia in my Steam library any time I'm in there and think the exact same thing: "One of these days…"

  8. DorthLous says:

    And if you think Bioshock Infinite was against religions, you've missed the boat completely. Since you do not intend to buy it, I'd suggest reading on spoilers, especially end spoilers. Worst case, you're even more disgusted and you don't play it, nothing big lost. Best case, you actually realize there might have been a bit of a magician bait and switch in the story and you enjoy whatever you can playing it.

  9. Speeder says:

    I separate two things:

    Moral grounds of characters.

    Moral grounds of developers.


    Usually, I play the characters as I would behave (not showing off, but usually I end most games, if they track that, as lawful good… also I have a tentency to play as Paladin, and sometimes be an asshole regarding truth… In Witcher 2 I happily spewed out the truth about some bad actions from Vernon Roche and I)

    But this does not stop me in playing GTA, God of War, or other games where characters have morally questionable behavior.


    What bothers me usually, is developers that do outright evil things (like Mike Capps when he got elected as IGDA director on purpose to derail the special interest group that was fighting crunch, because he wanted to keep crunching Epic employees, or EA DRM), or push agendas that I don't agree.

    That is the case with Bioshock Infinite, I don't even bought it, because after I read all the discussion about its plot, I realized that a important point on it was be against religion, and I am christian.

    Some other atheism-pumping developers I also refuse to play their games.

    And one of the reasons I don't play EA games anymore (beside their general buying smaller devs and breaking them, DRM, employee abuse and evilness) is that they are pushing a LGBT agenda, that I am against for my own reasons (not only religious, but also political and sociological).


    I also don't play Anna Anthropy games because of his LGBT and feminist agenda too.


    I sometimes make exceptions when I need to study something for professional reasons (since I am a game developer myself) or political reasons (I played Anna Anthropy game about women in war when the discussion about it was raging so I could understand what people were arguing about).

  10. Conster says:

    As with others, it depends on what you mean with "moral grounds". I don't recall encountering any videogames that I stopped playing because of a religious or political agenda I disagreed with, but after reading about the Shining Force YouTube incident, I tossed all my Steam games that had been published by SEGA in my "don't play" folder, and I refused to play Spore because of its DRM.

  11. GrimCW says:

    If its that instance (the companies practices rather than the games messages) then i haven't stopped playing a game, but i have stopped buying from a company for some time over it.

    I still don't tend to touch EA stuff due to my dislike of Origin, but on that same note i do like how they support the LGBT push for equality (still wonder how we can call ourselves a nation of "equal opportunity" while we deliberately oust specific groups over "moral" reasoning and make laws just to back these personal beliefs….)

    I've also outright boycotted AC2 until it lost the always on, as well as Splinter Cell Conviction for similar moral standing on the fowl treatment consumers have gotten from the publishers.

  12. Papa Midnight says:

    When I first saw the poll appear, the post to go with it hadn't quite been posted yet and it led me to think about some things.

    Initially, I worked under the presumption that the poll was drawing parallels to the story in which a man was so offended by a religious rite in a video game that he demanded a refund of his funds paid.

    Then, the thought expanded… Could it include more than refusing to play a game because the game's content doesn't fit within your moral compass? What if it has nothing to do with the game itself and has more to do with a dislike of the business practices of a video game publisher / developer; and the relationship which that entity has developed with it's user base?

    While that may seem more like the actions of a boycott, is it not along the same line of thought? It is effectively the refusal to patron a company because their business practices do not align with your moral compass (i.e.: Ubisoft and myself).

  13. GrimCW says:

    Nope, but i know some people have.

    Theres those that stopped MW2 for the one airport mission (despite its entirely skippable…), i recall one person losing it in the STEAM forums a couple years ago over the excessive F-Bomb use in The Longest Journey, and i'd heard of at least one that stopped Halo after feeling it was a jab at organized religion (tbh.. it kind of is…. but ONLY if you read the books, the games don't touch that aspect really)

    So its no surprise when i see someone do so. TBH the more contraversial it is, the more i enjoy the idea of playing. I like to see what the developers put into the game, and why its contraversial. I Also enjoy the reasoning why people dislike its doing things for whatever reason they have.

    Oddly enough 96% of the time its because of some religious reasoning that should've red flagged at the ESRB tag… the other 4% being some crazy attempt at making things racial.

  14. Conster says:

    Technically, you didn't kill Bloodwing: the game goes to some lengths to point out you're merely softening her up enough for Mordecai to hit her with a tranq dart so you can capture her safely. Jack's the one who killed her with the explosive collar, thereby increasing the player's hate for him.

  15. MechaTama31 says:

    In the sense of, I'm in the middle of playing a game, and the game expects me to do something so heinous, I can't do it and quit the game?  No.

    I can only think of two times when I really felt shitty and angry about something I had to do in a game, and both times I got over it and kept playing.  I was not thrilled with sacrificing that prisoner in the first God of War, and I agonized for some time over being forced to kill Bloodwing in Borderlands 2.

  16. Bennett Beeny says:

    Thanks for speaking up about the Brad Wardell issue. I had thought Stardock was one of the good guys, but then I saw what he did and yeah, no Stardock games for me from now on.

    In terms of the wider issue, for me, moral choices apply to real life. In games, anything goes.

  17. black manta says:

    I can't think of a game in recent memory where I stopped playing a game on moral grounds.  After the Sandy Hook shootings, though, I decided to stop playing FPS games like Far Cry 3, as at the time I didn't feel comfortable about playing such games then, and instead played more nonviolent games like Quantum Conundrum and Fez.  Only after several weeks did I feel comfortable about playing a more action-oriented game again.

  18. Algus says:

    The only game I ever got close on was Manhunt but the main reason I stopped playing was because I thought it was boring.   I was slightly bothered by the glee the game took with some of its imagery though.  

  19. Andrew Eisen says:

    That's another thing I've never personally understood.  Fear.  I just don't get how one can be afraid of something that's not real.  Makes no sense to me.

    Then again, I haven't played Amnesia.  It is in my Steam library though, I'll give it a go one of these days.


    Andrew Eisen

  20. Mr.Tastix says:

    I haven't stopped playing a game on moral grounds with the game, but like sqlrob I have due to issues with the developers/publishers of a game.

    If I stop playing a game it's for two main reasons: I find it boring or I find it too scary/disturbing to continue playing. I've only ever done the last one on Amnesia.

  21. Technogeek says:

    I'm pretty sure the shit Brad Wardell pulled qualifies as "moral grounds" for my decision never to spend another dime on Stardock titles, so it's not like "because a developer/publisher is terrible" is inherently an amoral reason not to purchase something.

  22. sqlrob says:

    Define "moral grounds"

    Because of in game actions? No

    Because of actions of the publisher / developer? Yes (e.g. No Gamestop. No Steam. No Blizzard)


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