Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Human Augmentation Ethical?
Video games generally get derided by the adult world as being childish, frivolous, or even dangerous (Columbine anyone?) I think these complaints leveled against the industry have declined considerably as more and more adults invest into the video game industry as a hobby. Working in a major retail corporation, I routinely see 20-30+ year old purchase consoles and video games, especially the Wii to involve the whole family. I think this is a good thing because I think video games can be "art" - art as in, creative and thought provoking media. And just as a celebrated novel, character drama, or painting can invoke deep introspection and conversation, so too can video games. Of course, not all the time - nobody burns the midnight oil considering deep metaphysical questions posed by Super Mario, unless it's about the ethical question of massacring goombas with abandon.
In any case, some of my favorite video games pose deep questions while also being entertaining. Bioshock posited the underwater city of Rapture envisioned by Andrew Ryan, free of "petty" moral constraints (and, of course, any notion of God). Rapture had since declined into architectural and moral ruin and the player is left to decide whether or not Andrew Ryan's philosophy was to blame; as well as the question of the dubious morality of genetic tampering. Similarly, a core feature of the Mass Effect franchise is its Paragon/Renegade morality meter and the moral decisions that effect it. Is it better to recode and in effect "brainwash" the dangerous mechanical race known as the Geth or to keep their free will intact and suffer the consequences? A mark of good storytelling are these ethical quandaries that make the player stop and think about what the better outcome would be.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution does just that.
DEHR, in a nutshell, is a game about international conspiracies and the man who wants to stop them. The game is set in the not-too-distant future where America and the rest of the world is decending into chaos. The economy has tanked, American states threaten to secede, and international terrorism is on the rise. In short, the world is crap. Along with all of this, technology has progressed to the point where human augmentation is a viable way to free the human race from the constraints of biology and mere accidents. Biomechanical eyes can give sight to the blind, enhanced muscles can let a man lift heavy weights, and even cloaking devices become science fact instead of fiction. However, all of these augmentations require a person to give up a bit of his or her natural flesh and blood, blurring the line between human and machine. And in this world, the game poses the question - is the act of letting go of some of our organic nature for all of these wondrous advantages that human augmentation can provide worth it? Is it ethical? Two sects known as Purity First and Humanity Front actively campaign against human augmentation, usually over concerns that humanity is playing God or because implants can cause addiction and require constant and costly injections of Neuropozyne to prevent the body from rejecting them.
DEHR may be fiction but human augmentation can become a plausible reality. As a Christian, would replacing bits or the entirety of our organic body be a sin? What does it mean to be human? In what cases, if any, would human augmentation be permissible? I'll leave you to make up your own mind. But enjoy this picture of the in-game physics being unintentionally hilarious....
Their love is augmented...
NOTE: Please be sure to visit my free-standing blog, Upon Mount Taniquetil.