The best video games that teach us philosophy


There is nothing I love more than a good philosophy in a video game. To combine my two passions in life into one pleasurable experience is about all I could ask for. There are many games that incorporate philosophical concepts, but these are some of the best that can get you thinking about some of the basics.

via Structo Magazine

Stanley’s Parable – Free Will and Determinism

Decomposition of free will and determinism

There is a long-standing argument about whether people have free will. On the one hand, people believe that we have free will, that we can make choices of our own free will to determine what happens to us in life, assuming that we are not being held back by an outside force. On the other hand, people believe that all of our actions are already determined, that what appears because making choices is really just the result of our biology and everything that has happened to us up to this point in our life.

How it is demonstrated in the game

The Stanley Parable is a game based on a random guy who works in an office. As the game progresses, a narrator tells you exactly what to do and where to go every step of the way. You can either follow the narrator’s instructions or challenge the narrator and choose to take a different path. The game has the player questioning their own agency, as you begin to wonder if your choices are even choices. The game brilliantly captures the debate between free will and determinism.

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Bioshock – Objectivism

Distribution of objectivism

In this context, Ayn Rand’s objectivism essentially means that her own happiness should be the sole purpose of her life, and that this is achieved through productivity and reason. The only social system that adequately supports this view is laissez-faire capitalism, which basically means that the government should stay completely out of the economy and let people do whatever they want. Individualism is strongly emphasized.

How it is demonstrated in the game


How the philosophy relates to it is not as obvious as it is with The Stanley Parabol. However, after some time in Bioshock, it becomes evident that there are obvious connections between Rapture (the city created by Andrew Ryan for the purpose of freeing himself from people he considered “parasites”) and the philosophy of ‘Ayn Rand. One thing that was clear right away was that this city built on the concepts of Ayn Rand’s philosophy was a colossal failure, given the state of it in the game. The city was a society. free and unregulated (an individualistic utopia) that ultimately shifted due to many factors, including class division, further criticizing Rand’s views on objectivism.

via bloody disgusting

SOMA – Identity And Consciousness

Decomposition of identity

How do we know who we really are? If I point my finger at myself and say “it’s me”, what does that really mean: my physical body? If I had major brain damage and my whole personality was different, is that still me? Maybe our identities are shrouded in our memories, but does that mean that someone is not the same person if they are suffering from amnesia? Names, titles, positions, and relationships in the world can all change too, so where does that take us?

How it is demonstrated in the game

In SOMA, you play as a robot named Simon who has both the personality and memories of a human being, since human consciousness has already been placed in robots. You start with the feeling that your character is a certain person. But throughout the game you come across plenty of other broken or decaying bots, and you have to decide exactly how human they are, if at all. Does immortality change the way we define “a person”? If you transfer your memories to another robot, have you lost any part of who you are?

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