Reality is a Game

Game thinking from Adam Clare

Tag: SteamPage 1 of 3

Introducing Dr. Trolley and their Trolley Problem

Dr. Trolley’s Problem trailer

This video game tests your moral fortitude. Dr. Trolley’s Problem brings the classic philosophical quandaries of The Trolley Problem to life and asks you to make life or death decisions on the fly. Explore your moral fiber in ways you never imagined (or asked for)! I’ve created 50 situations that are all based on the famous trolley problem, with more coming.

I’ve been working on the game for some time and it’s finally ready for the world. Well, sort of ready. We’re launching the game on Steam Early Access to make sure that all the situations are understandable and work fine.

Inspiration

I’m always interested in the intersection of philosophy and games, and in particular, the trolley problem. It’s been attempted before by the likes of MIT in their creation of the Moral Machine, which I don’t think is a fun way to reach people (it is good though). My hopes with Dr. Trolley’s Problem can reach people through entertaining gameplay in a way that the more serious moral machine (and others) simulations cannot.

Many of the situations in the game are based on research into the philosophical thought experiment first postulated by Philippa Foot back in 1967. Amongst other sources, I read the excellent book Would You Kill the Fat Man? by David Edmonds. I highly recommend it since it is filled with a ton of variations of the original problem; plus it has great analysis on each one. Edmonds also co-hosts my favourite philosophy podcast, Philosophy Bites.

trolley problem cop or robber
What would you do in this situation?

Dr. Trolley’s problem is available for both Mac and PC. If everything goes to plan the game will be available on even more platforms in the future! Imagine taking the trolley problem anywhere you go…

Don’t worry this is only a game.

What are you waiting for? Get the game now:

Must Read: The Verge Interviews Gabe Newell

Valve CEO Gabe Newell was interviewed by The verge and it’s an excellent read. Gabe discuss the Steam Box gaming console/computer that Valve is making (the article has pictures of prototypes) and how they don’t want to replicate what’s already out there.

Controllers have their advantages and their disadvantages it looks like at Valve they have spent a lot of time thinking about how to best use a controller. This is great as they are even thinking of using biometric and gaze tracking to help make games better. They are looking beyond the gimmick:

I think you’ll see controllers coming from us that use a lot of biometric data. Maybe the motion stuff is just failure of imagination on our part, but we’re a lot more excited about biometrics as an input method. Motion just seems to be a way of [thinking] of your body as a set of communication channels. Your hands, and your wrist muscles, and your fingers are actually your highest bandwidth — so to trying to talk to a game with your arms is essentially saying “oh we’re gonna stop using ethernet and go back to 300 baud dial-up.” Maybe there are other ways to think of that. There’s more engagement when you’re using larger skeletal muscles, but whenever we go down [that path] we sort of come away unconvinced. Biometrics on the other hand is essentially adding more communication bandwidth between the game and the person playing it, especially in ways the player isn’t necessarily conscious of. Biometrics gives us more visibility. Also, gaze tracking. we think gaze tracking is gonna turn out to be super important.

He also offers some design decisions about Half-Life and Valve’s overall appoach to making games that are fun to play:

One of the things that started to drive me crazy in video games is that when I walk into a room, I’m covered with the gore and ichor of a thousand creatures that I have slayed, and the monster in there reacts to me exactly the same. So in Half-Life there’s this whole progression depending upon what you do and how scary you are [to enemies]. Eventually they start running away from you, they start talking about you, and that was just another example of having the world respond to you rather than the world kind of being autistic and ignoring everything you’ve done. So then we did Counter-Strike, [and found] the rule we used for Half-Life doesn’t work in a multiplayer game. We got all this weird data, like you put riot shields in and player numbers go up. Then you take riot shields out and player numbers go up. Fuck! It’s supposed to go the opposite [direction], right? So we had to come up with a different way.

You really should read the full interview.

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: