Philosophical Games

My recommendations for games dealing with philosophical topics such as AI, transhumanism and consciousness (e.g. SOMA) or ethics and politics (e.g. BioShock). All of them are super fascinating titles for people who are interested in such topics.

BioShock

Genre: Steampunk, Shooter
Topic: Human-Enhancement, ethics, political theory (Liberalism, objectivism), free will
Release: 21. August 2007
Developers: 2K Games, Irrational Games, Digital Extremes, 2K Australia, Feral Interactive, 2K Marin, 2K China
Designer: Irrational Games, Paul Hellquist
Homepage: bioshockgame.com

At the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean lies Rapture, a city built by billionaire Andrew Ryan, who, after the atomic bombings, a devastating financial crisis and increasing market intervention by the state, wanted to found a refuge for free, self-reliant people. A society in which neither market, science nor art should be regulated or censored by petty parasites and their collectivist-altruistic morality. But a cunning gangster boss challenges Ryan’s and his cities’ loyalty to their principles, eventually leading to civil war and the failure of Ryan’s vision.

The character Andrew Ryan, as well as his ideology, are based on the philosophy of Objectivism of U.S. author Ayn Rand, with which she advocates a libertarian, selfish society and unrestricted capitalism.



DETROIT: BECOME HUMAN

Genre: Interactive-Movie
Topic: ethics, liberalism, free will, identity, consciousness
Developer: Quantic Dream
Release: 25. May 2018

Travel to the near-future metropolis of Detroit – a city rejuvenated by an exciting technological development: androids. Witness your brave new world turn to chaos as you take on the role of Kara, a female android trying to find her own place in a turbulent social landscape.
Making choices that will not only determine your own fate, but that of the entire city. Discover what it means to be human from the perspective of an outsider – see the world of man though the eyes of a machine.



Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Genre: First-Person-Shooter, role-playing game
Topics: Human-Enhancement/Transhumanism, ethics, free will
Release: 23. August 2011
Developer: Eidos Montréal

You play Adam Jensen, an ex-SWAT specialist who’s been handpicked to oversee the defensive needs of one of America’s most experimental biotechnology firms. Your job is to safeguard company secrets, but when a black ops team breaks in and kills the very scientists you were hired to protect, everything you thought you knew about your job changes.

Badly wounded during the attack, you have no choice but to become mechanically augmented and you soon find yourself chasing down leads all over the world, never knowing who you can trust. At a time when scientific advancements are turning athletes, soldiers and spies into super enhanced beings, someone is working very hard to ensure mankind’s evolution follows a particular path.

You need to discover where that path lies. Because when all is said and done, the decisions you take, and the choices you make, will be the only things that can change it.



>Observer

Genre: Cyberpunk, Psychothriller, Horror
Topics: identity, body-soul-dichotomy, AI, human-enhancement, free will
Release:
 15. August 2017
Developer: Bloober Team

In 2084, people are officially grouped into classes and corresponding districts again. Manipulating body and DNA is as normal as visiting the barber. Daniel Lazarski is a neuronal detective who connects to other peoples’ consciousness per mind-machine interfaces to get information. When contacted by his supposedly dead son, he sets out in a miserable housing complex on the hunt for the truth and a psychopathic killer in which he has to confront his own past, as well as questions about identity and free will.



SOMA

Genre: Survival-Horror
Topic: identity, body-soul-dichotomy, AI, ethics
Developer: Frictional Games
Release: 22. September 2015

SOMA is a sci-fi horror game from Frictional Games, the creators of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It is an unsettling story about identity, consciousness, and what it means to be human.

The radio is dead, food is running out, and the machines have started to think they are people. Underwater facility PATHOS-II has suffered an intolerable isolation and we’re going to have to make some tough decisions. What can be done? What makes sense? What is left to fight for?

Enter the world of SOMA and face horrors buried deep beneath the ocean waves. Delve through locked terminals and secret documents to uncover the truth behind the chaos. Seek out the last remaining inhabitants and take part in the events that will ultimately shape the fate of the station. But be careful, danger lurks in every corner: corrupted humans, twisted creatures, insane robots, and even an inscrutable omnipresent A.I.
You will need to figure out how to deal with each one of them. Just remember there’s no fighting back, either you outsmart your enemies or you get ready to run.



The Talos Principle

Genre: First-Person-Puzzler
Topics: free will, body-soul-dichotomy, identity
Developer: Croteam
Release: 11. December 2014

As if awakening from a deep sleep, you find yourself in a strange, contradictory world of ancient ruins and advanced technology. Tasked by your creator with solving a series of increasingly complex puzzles, you must decide whether to have faith or to ask the difficult questions: Who are you? What is your purpose? And what are you going to do about it?



The Turing Test

Genre: First-Person-Puzzler
Topics: AI, ethics, free will, consciousness, creativity
Developer: Bulkhead Interactive
Release: 30. August 2016

The Turing Test is a challenging first-person puzzle game set on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. You are Ava Turing, an engineer for the International Space Agency (ISA) sent to discover the cause behind the disappearance of the ground crew stationed there.

Upon arrival a series of puzzles awaits you – tests which, according to the station’s AI, Tom, can only be solved by a human. These puzzles have apparently been set by the missing ground crew – but why have they created them and what are they hiding from?

In an evolving story based on mankind’s instinctual need to explore, protect and survive, you’ll delve deeper into Europa’s ice crusted-core and discover that the lines between man and machine begin to blur. Armed with the Energy Manipulation Tool (EMT), solve puzzles to open the way forward as you learn the true cost of human morality.



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