The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Republican Knights

I'm not so concerned with KotOR's analogies to the modern world; they are valid enough. I'm more concerned with how its designers define good and evil, or if you like Light and Dark.

First, the good news. The game encourages diplomacy over wanton destruction. It expects the Jedi to follow the rule of law, awarding "Dark Side Points" if you put to sleep even an avowed terrorist. Some creatures really do have to get killed.

On balance, though, this is a Democrat's game, not a Republican's.

Light Side players will have to perform unconservative tasks so as to stay in the Light. The game forces you to put an end to the Republic's kolto mining installation on Manaan ("kolto" being a medical ingredient). It does not let you argue with the Sand People to restrict their raids to treaty violators. And smuggling "spice" to a shifty Rodian on Korriban doesn't earn Dark Side points; for all I know the stuff is debilitating, addictive, and slated for export to Alderaanian children.

There's xenophobia on all planets save Dantooine, but some planets' expressions of this are superior to others'. The Wookiees, given a chance, purge their planet of non-Wookiees by violence. The Sand People rob and kill their aliens. The Selkath of Manaan have built a city for its offworlders and pen them to that. And Tarisian humans restrict their aliens to the city's lower layers. But Taris is the only place where the player is invited to see such racism's deleterious effects.

I also don't see any transnational corporations in this universe other than the wicked Czerka. Or, as Nader would say, greedycorporations.

In case you didn't get the point about conserving natural resources in Taris, the designers bring it up again on Manaan; and they further endorse the protection of indigenous species on Kashyyyk. On Tatooine they endorse both.

There's also some kind of anti-war message around the location of the end-game, but I won't get into that, because that's a major spoiler.

If I were designing this game, I'd throw the game's moral relativism right back at itself.

I'd have confronted the player with Wookiees preparing to slaughter an innocent tradesman, perhaps his family too. The Sand People, doubly so. I'd leave the Selkath alone, given that they at least have the excuse that most visitors are air-breathers.

If the players want to wreck kolto production, then the price of medpaks and other such items must rise to the outer limits in Republic stores, and run out of supply in allied peoples' storage facilities. Also, the Republic's loss of cheap kolto, alongside Czerka's loss of Kashyyyk and reduction of other business enterprises, must take a hit on the Republic's costs and tax base, respectively. It should hit Light Sider characters with higher prices all around. Or, better, with an arbitrarily-determined income tax complete with a satirically incomprehensible tax form to fill out, unless you pay Czerka Corp to fill it out for you.

Maybe the above proposal is silly. But not so silly as remodelling Tusken Raiders into "Holy Warriors", yes...?

posted by Zimri on 16:20 | link | 0 comments

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