On intentions and goodness in “Spec Ops: the Line”

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Southern New Hampshire University
Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness and its many adaptations approach central themes of madness and the uncertainty of man through a variety of differing settings. Each of these adaptations ask and present the viewer with questions of their own, or from the source, which influence the progression of each respective portrayal. Yager Games' particular rendition, “Spec Ops: The Line,” questions the morality of one's actions in the context of their outcomes in contrast with their intentions. Is the goodness of the character's and player's actions determined solely by their outcome? By their intentions? Or by some combination of both? The questions posed in “Spec Ops” are presented through a series of choices that, while similar in generalized outcome, are vastly different in an emotional context which leads to another philosophical inquiry: Does the character's, and by extension, the player's emotional or psychological state have an influence on the morality an action? What is particularly interesting about this rendition of Conrad's classic is that it does not seek to give its own answers to these questions of morality; rather, it leaves the message up to the interpretation of the player. Unlike a book or a film, a video game of this nature requires the audience to both make these choices themselves and act upon them, making the player ultimately responsible for the events on the screen. This paper will seek to analyze and present a clearer image of morality in terms of the aforementioned factors using the conditions and presentation of “Spec Ops: The Line” as an example of the emotional investment an individual can have during life's many decision points. (Author abstract)