Boyan, A., Grizzard, M., & Bowman, N. D. (2015). A massively moral game? Mass Effect as a case study to understand the influence of players’ moral intuitions on adherence to hero or antihero play styles. Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, 7(1), 41-57.
Abstract: This research examines relationships regarding moral foundations and moral decisions in the Mass Effect video game series. The findings suggest that moral foundation predicts what type of moral decisions a player will make during play. This research reports an online survey (N=138) that asked participants the salience of their moral foundations, along with the moral path, either traditionally heroic (paragon) or traditionally antiheroic (renegade), they chose in their first time playing through the Mass Effect series. The results indicate that moral foundations predict the extent to which game path players choose, but only with regard to the harm/care moral foundation. These findings are discussed in light of game design and the potential for game designers to use morality as a game mechanic beyond the harm foundation and into realms of more nuanced moral situations in game narratives.