Towards simulated morality systems: Role-playing games as artificial societies

Joan Casas-Roma, Mark J. Nelson, Joan Arnedo-Moreno, Swen E. Gaudl, Rob Saunders (2019). Towards simulated morality systems: Role-playing games as artificial societies. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Agents and Artificial Intelligence, pp. 244–251. DOI: 10.5220/0007496702440251


Computer role-playing games (RPGs) often include a simulated morality system as a core design element. Games' morality systems can include both god's eye view aspects, in which certain actions are inherently judged by the simulated world to be good or evil, as well as social simulations, in which non-player characters (NPCs) react to judgments of the player's and each others' activities. Games with a larger amount of social simulation have clear affinities to multi-agent systems (MAS) research on artificial societies. They differ in a number of key respects, however, due to a mixture of pragmatic game-design considerations and their typically strong embeddedness in narrative arcs, resulting in many important aspects of moral systems being represented using explicitly scripted scenarios rather than through agent-based simulations. In this position paper, we argue that these similarities and differences make RPGs a promising challenge domain for MAS research, highlighting features such as moral dilemmas situated in more organic settings than seen in game-theoretic models of social dilemmas, and heterogeneous representations of morality that use both moral calculus systems and social simulation. We illustrate some possible approaches using a case study of the morality systems in the game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

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