"Shining Lights, Even in Death": What Metal Gear Can Teach Us About Morality (Master's Thesis)

Dissertation, West Chester University (2019)
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Morality has always been a pressing issue in video game scholarship, but became more contentious after “realistic” violence in games became possible. However, few studies concern themselves with how players experience moral dilemmas in games, choosing instead to focus on the way games affect postplay behavior. In my thesis I discuss the moral choices players encounter in the Metal Gear series of games; then, I analyze and compare the responses of players with and without martial career experiences. My argument is that the moral choices players encounter during gameplay affect them differently, particularly if they have life experiences related to medical trauma, law enforcement, fire fighting, or military career fields, and that the behavior of those players will be observably different from players without the same experiences. In chapter one I present my personal history with Metal Gear, before moving on to the literature review in chapter two, which focuses on scholarship about the Metal Gear series of games and video game research as a whole, particularly studies concerned with how violent content affects players. In chapters three and four, I analyze Metal Gear Solid 3 (2004) and Metal Gear Solid V (2014/2015) in order to gain insight into the moral dilemmas posed by each game. In chapter five I report the results of a survey about player responses towards the game dilemmas given by martial and non-martial groups to identify observable patterns of behavior in how they act and react towards each scenario. This is a preprint version of the official paper until an update is produced. The current official version is available at the West Chester Digital Commons in the external link section below.

Author's Profile

Ryan Wasser
Luzerne County Community College


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