There’s been much discussion in class of player choice, and the morality of the player as it relates to the player character. Spec Ops: The Line is one of my favorite treatises on morality in video games. While some may argue that binary moral choice systems, ala Infamous or Red Dead Redemption exemplify the finest reflections on morality in gaming, I would counter that Spec Ops‘s grim, unyielding take on morality is far more impressive.
Spec Ops rarely cares much for player choice, moreover, it explicitly puts the player in situations where they have no choice, or no preferable option. Furthermore, the game constantly critiques the player’s actions, through the other characters and the loading screens, one of which blithely reads “Do you feel like a hero yet?” This awareness of the carnage inflicted during gameplay is rarely seen in video games, many of which experience a sense of disconnect between the in-game violence and the narrative.
Therefore, while I would never argue that Spec Ops is a traditionally enjoyable video game, I still consider it to be a shining example of game morality. It is a game that shows the awareness of player actions, but also reveals the powerlessness of the player and their character, an area that few video games dare to delve into. It succeeds by leaving the player with a lasting impression of the cost of violence in video games.