But there's a problem with this approach. In almost every game that features these kinds of moral decisions, the choices aren't just easy, they're totally transparent. The first decision you make is whether you want the character to be the good guy or the bad guy, and then all decisions you must make to achieve that outcome are predetermined: Feed the puppy to be the good guy, kick it to be the bad guy. As former Activision developer James Portnow put it in his column this week on Gamasutra: "We tend to deliver to our players all the exciting possibilities of either being Mother Theresa or being Hitler."
Developing some shades of gray into this spectrum of choices is critical for video game's development as a medium. People don't read books or watch movies because it's 100% clear what the characters should do all the time; stories are at their best when characters have to make hard choices.
And every human being who's spent a modicum of time thinking about right and wrong knows that's not at all how it works -- you can decide up front how you want to live your life, but putting that decision into practice is the hard part. In video game world, it's the opposite -- once you've made the decision about who you want to be, making the decisions to bring that about is the easy part, and in most games, you've got a handy progress bar telling you exactly how good or evil your actions have made you.
One issue with the shades-of-gray approach is that it violates a general tenet of game development: that player's actions should have predictable outcome sets. But until a healthy dose of ambiguity is introduced into these systems, moral choices in games will never have the same resonance that they do in other media.