Teaching Values in the World of Albion
Anthony (not my brother) relates how Fable 2 helped him teach his brother morals, and transformed him from an aggressive terror into a more well-mannered, value-conscious child. Spoilers for Fable 2.
Passing down my hobby of gaming to my little brother, Charlie, seemed to be a good idea at the time. However, I eventually regretted those acts, as his behavior had grown to be quite extreme when he grew up. He stayed up late with his games, was rude to adults, and was an absolute terror at school. My gaming library as a kid was Mario, Pokemon, etc,. His consisted of Modern Warfare, GTA, and the like. I’m the first one to defend video games, but jeez, that’s a tad much for an eight year old. I tried to passive-aggressively confront my parents on their, well, parenting, but I’m such a wimp in front of them it’s hopeless.Still, I didn’t want my brother to become the nightmares that I met on Xbox Live. I needed to do something to mentor my brother, in a manner I was experienced with.
The answer came to me on Amazon, where I found Fable 2 for ten dollars. I had traded in the game awhile back after playing and enjoying it nonstop, and it hit me that the game had local co-op. Immediately I ordered it and brought it with me on my next trip to my parent’s house. My brother’s eyes widened at the prospect of a new game to play, even as I laid down the ground rules that he was to play only when I was there alongside him.
So began our playthrough of Fable 2. The first moral choice we came across was met with a brief moment of confusion. None of his games have ever asked him to consider his morality, or the well-being of others (even if they are digital). He looked at me, bewildered.
“What’s the best one, Anthony?” He asked, his inner gamer striving to beat the game in the most efficient manner.
“There isn’t any, Charlie. Pick what you think is the right one.”
We kept on. He consistently chose the good options, after he paused the game to ask me to explain them (I did, as objectively possible). He would always cry out in anguish whenever I worked to undo his good reputation (such as doing my best Palpatine impression in Bowerstone). He reveled in the social aspects, choosing to marry Alex instead of enacting revenge for her dead fiance. He raised a family (I covered his eyes and ears during ‘conception’), worked in the mills of Oakfield so that he could put food on the table, and fought bad guys.
As we continued, however, I could see that this was more than just a game for him. During my stay his rambunctious behaviour was subdued, and the stress in his emotions when playing the game slowly grew in expressiveness. Two moments from the game are the ones I remember the most simply because of his reaction to them. When delivering Reaver’s Seal, when it was asked who would become the sacrifice, my brother froze. Immediately he pressured me for advice. All I did was clarified the consequences of each choice, and nothing more. After a long time of contemplating, he ultimately choose the girl over himself as the sacrifice. Justifying his deed with “My wife won’t like to see me old.”, I could nonetheless see a hint of despair on his face.
That was nothing compared to his reaction to the the final choice of the game. My generous donations had made the gold insignificant, so he had to choose between reviving all of the dead, or his family. Surprisingly (I chose the dog), he picked to save everyone. I knew it was hard for him to part with his family, but I didn’t know how bad it was until we approached a Demon Door in the post-game, where a ghost of his dog appeared. I looked over and saw that he started to cry, begging me to fix the game so he could get his family and dog back. I comforted him and encouraged him that he made the right decision, shocked that the game and its decisions had that much meaning to him.
In the end it worked out. I felt as if I was teaching morality to my brother through video games, without resorting to threats or religion. I won’t say my brother is a perfect child now, but his behavior and grades in school has improved, and I have been more involved in his life in order to guide his game choices (he currently loves Minecraft). Our talks have evolved from the awesomeness of chainsawing Locusts, to the morality system in inFamous, or the best way to make an LBP level. Seeing how much Charlie has learned from games, I hope to eventually bring my youngest, three-year old brother on the journey to Albion.
Oh, and Fable 3? My brother refuses to choose between executing his friend or innocent people, and thus has never beaten the game.
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