In the Garden: Explicit Choice, Conscious Fall
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2:16-17
|"Wait, so this fruit is bad for our health?"|
God then makes the first human and gives him a commandment: eat from whatever tree you want as long as it is not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is a simple, binary moral choice. Eat any other fruit and live. Eat this one fruit and die. One choice is presented as good, one choice is presented as evil.
Adam and Eve (with a little prompting from a talking serpent) chose to ignore God’s command and eat the fruit. Because of this one choice, evil enters the world and humans are doomed to die.
This is perhaps the most famous story about moral choices ever told. There’s a good chance you’ve heard it before, and a good chance that any given game designer heard it a few times growing up. It’s no surprise that the majority of video games take their cues from the system of morality it represents.
It’s also a story that has been politicized heavily in our times, but let’s step back from the controversies surrounding it and instead take a look about what sort of moral choice this story presents us with.
Adam and Eve are given two options from which they can choose freely. One choice is morally good (obey God and don’t eat the specified fruit), one choice is morally evil (disobey God and eat the specified fruit).
The critical point is not simply the binary opposition of good and evil, but rather that the choices are clearly defined. Regardless of what Adam and Eve eventually chose, God has given a choice for them to make, a law for them to obey or break. Even before they eat the fruit, they have information on good and evil.
Next: [OE003] The Game Mechanic: Red vs. Blue