04.16.12

How Disney's new animated 8-bit film Wreck-it Ralph tells us a lot about game morality.

Slashfilm recently featured the above teaser poster for Wreck-it Ralph, a video-game inspired animated film. Ralph is an 8-bit baddie who gets frustrated with constantly losing to the hero and breaks out into other games to try out life as the hero. The movie's got a solid cast for the leads with John C. Reilly as Ralph and 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer as his nemesis Fix-it Felix.

It's a fun twist on game archetypes and roles and might even be something that games could borrow from. With more and more games introducing morality systems, they still seem to have stagnated around the idea of binary morality. While this movie is still (sort of) showing off that kind of good guy, bad guy mentality, it does also ask why he has to be the bad guy. Beyond that, the movie even suggests, that one world's big bad might be another world's greatest hero, which is an idea I really like.

The fact is this is a children's movie and that carries some implications, not least of which is that the roles of these characters will probably be simplified to the point of one being good and one being bad, though there are some notable exceptions to that. I think games should stop adhering to this kind of simplification. It's that kind of unnecessary simplicity that means games still get labeled as childish. Kids aren't going to pick up on all of the subtle nuances of a story nor do they need to, but if you're making a game that deals strongly with morality, you have to know that your audience doesn't see the world in terms of good guys and bad guys anymore.