So, I was reading this BBC article about an upcoming game/movie franchise that involves humans controlling created human/alien avatars in order to forcibly colonize a planet named Pandora whose native inhabitants, from the sentient Na’vi to the animals and plants, do not want humans there. I thought it was just a little messed up– like, isn’t is usually considered a bad thing to invade somebody’s home…? Are we going to be rooting for the unjustified human takeover? Or is this one of those gams like Shadow of the Colossus where you’re supposed to feel bad about what you’re doing? (And what if people don’t feel bad, or don’t feel bad enough? A lot of people probably don’t see a problem with colonization.)
I thought that encouraging people to casually support murdering people whose land you want was probably going to be the major flaw in the game, but at least there might be a way to do it well (by making it clear that the players are engaged in, shall we say, questionable activity, and having the ending reflect that), but I’m not sure how in the world they’re going to salvage this:
Mr Landau said that Jake Sully changes sides and helps the Na’vi “lead a revolution to force the humans – and avatars – off Pandora”.
The catch, said Mr Landau, is that when Sully is in avatar mode, he is fully mobile; back in human form, he is confined to a wheelchair.
“It’s a moral dilemma that he will have to face.”
It remains to be seen if this moral dilemma from the movie will be replicated in the game.
Okay, so the moral dilemma is…?
Maybe the game-makers think the dilemma is that he thinks helping the Na’vi is the Right Thing, but he might choose to help the humans anyway, because he could control an avatar to get around instead of being stuck in his pitiful wheelchair-bound life. The humans could give him everything he’s dreamed of! They could fix his miserable, worthless life! Because, you know, wheelchair = MISERY.
Oh no. Is he going to choose to follow his principles, and therefore choose to remain in the wheelchair, to teach us a Very Special Lesson about how brave he is to go on with his life as it is despite all his hardships? I hope not.
But wait– he’s siding against the player. Is he going to be evil and bitter, then? What’s the moral dilemma if he’s on the opposite side? Unless he chooses to join the human at the end… indicating that having an avatar body is worth betraying his principles! Dear god, he better not Learn To Hope and forsake his bitter ways if he does.
Augh! Is there any way to have a disabled character with a “moral dilemma” around their ability that isn’t full of stupid tropes and hopelessly centered around able-bodied privilege?? What do you guys think– how might this play out?