What Are The Best Philosophical Video Games? Check This List!

Video games have progressed to the level of complexity and profundity of television, literature and film in recent years. They increasingly express complex stories full of profound concepts and philosophical ideas. Does a game with an attractive narrative keep you immersed in such game even when you exist? Certainly, it is! 

Here is the list of some games having the best impressive philosophical depth:

SOMA – Artificial Intelligence, Consciousness, And Immortality

soma best philosophical video games
  • Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: survival horror
  • Mode: single player

Your character is called Simon Jarett – a man who is involved in a neurological study designed to create a one-to-one interactive human brain map for diagnostic and experimental purposes. 

While discovering a research facility called PATHOS-II after awaking form the treatment in such study, Simon encounters a variety of different machines that are eerily human in appearance and learn that each of which was inserted a digital copy of Simon’s mind.

First, can a machine truly be conscious? 

With regard to such question, these kinds of things are no longer speculative considering the state of current AI science now. These are essentially concrete truths that need to be tackled seriously sooner than later. Obviously, what kind of moral responsibilities will we have when we succeed in developing a conscious machine/robot in the future? Will such robots be treated as human? Or these conscious machines are nothing more than “machines” that support us in daily life?

What would happen if there are two homogeneous minds?

The possibility of duplicating one’s mind seems to suggest that there is nothing valuable in human beings other than brain processing machines, which means that if someone has their mind copied and uploaded into a robot/machine, there would be another him / her but in different appearance. It must be hard to  imagine such a situation in our real life.

SOMA has brilliantly thrown this conundrum at you, confronting you with unsettling and heart-rending circumstances in which the relentless drive of human toward immortality is at stake–a drive that has created a world in SOMA where human consciousness is weak, shattered, and disembodied.

Bioshock – Objectivism

Bioshock - Objectivism best philosophical video games
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: FPS

Objectivism is a philosophy explained by the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand. The basic tenet of this system is that reality exists outside our consciousness, and we come in contact it with our senses, and we can understand reality using deductive and inductive reasoning.

The main antagonist of the game is called Andrew Ryan whose name is a hint to the philosophy he represents. He believes that economy unites all people, and a free market society in which every man is entitled to the fruit of his labor is an ideal society.

A substance called ADAM is discovered, which can be used for developing new physical characteristics of people because of a permanent change in the genes as well as giving them power.

People, unregulated by nothing but self-interest, mutate themselves so much that they turn into zombies and the city is brought down to hell. Ryan does every crime to keep his city intact and then, he also creates a cult of personality for himself. He has become a dictator. Dostoevsky says that you begin with absolute liberty but end up with absolute tyranny, which is what happens to Ryan.

Bioshock has pointed out an important thing: Capitalism and Socialism cannot work in their crude forms.

Bioshock 2 – Utilitarianism

bioshock 2 utilitarianism game scene
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: FPS

Utilitarianism is a school of thought which believes that the moral worth of an action is determined by the way that action affects the society or humanity as a whole.

If the action causes harm to more people than it benefits, it is wrong, and if it benefits more people than it harms, it is right.

Therefore, their motto is “the greatest happiness of the greatest numbers”, leading to their hope looking forward to serving the collective. Utilitarianism is a noble ideology that always goes hand in hand with democracy.

The main antagonist of Bioshock 2 is Sofia Lamb, another radical Utilitarianist. The game has tried to show the possible evils of Utilitarianism.

What she aims at is the happiness of as many people as possible. She believes that what she does will ultimately benefit more people than it harms.

She knows that the events of the previous game have brought unhappiness to the people of rapture, and she seeks to end this situation.

She uses her own daughter as a test subject – She thinks this is an action of altruism, working for common good with no regard for personal gain.

Besides, she wants to create an intellect who is selfless with no regards for individual interest and only weighs the majority of people when acting. She uses a large amount of ADAM to do this; unfortunately, the experiment goes wrong, and she realizes that she can only experiment only her own daughter. In fact, she ignores the personal rights of her daughter. Utilitarianism is deemed wrong.

At the end, John Stuart Mill, a disciple of Bentham, contributed the most important amendment to Utilitarianism. Mill held that the rights of majority and yourself are both important, turning it into a much greater intellectual achievement of humanity – liberalism.

Conclusion

Games are worth thinking about to date. Video games today incorporate environments, scenarios and concepts with a novel context containing many philosophical issues that we have never seen before. People will increasingly believe in the potentials inside video games as they continue to evolve and mature through time.

If you are looking for answers to life’s big philosophical questions, try playing a video game, says Jordan Erica Webber – a freelance writer and speaker who specialises in video games.