Rasmussen, a time-traveling historian, visits the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation's episode titled "A Matter of Time". He would like to experience the Enterprise's "history changing" attempts to save innocent life on a dying world. He is forbidden from sharing his results with the crew.

Geordi LaForge, the engineer on Enterprise, What sports asks Captain Picard if he can stay on the planet at this crucial moment. He is eager to help in the recovery efforts. Picard stares at Rasmussen, knowing that his friend and trusted officer Picard will be killed by this decision. Picard reluctantly gives LaForge permission. Rasmussen is casually curious, and says that "LaForge remained below."

Hearing Rasmussen's words made me instantly think of a certain type of YouTube video. These are just some examples: Mass Effect: Ashley stays behind," Mass Effect 3 : The Quarians lose," and Infamous2 : Zeke dies. These titles, like Rasmussen's above statement, provide short after-the-fact labels to videogames that have an emotional or moral impact.

Picard's moral dilemma, "A Matter of Time," is easily compared to the video game morality. Picard calling Rasmussen to his office is a good place to start. He is confronted with a moral dilemma similar to those found in many story-driven games.

"I'm certain you understand why you asked me to bring you here."

Rasmussen replies, "Yeah. Rasmussen replies, "Yeah.

"I'm faced with a problem. "There is an ice planet below us. We must do something about it. It will cause thousands to die, even tens of million.

"So, what's your problem?"

"Commander La Forge might have a solution. The margins of error are important but if they succeed, there won't be more threats.

"And what if it's not successful?"

"Every living thing on the planet will eventually die."

If you do nothing, thousands will die. If you don't do anything, millions could die. This is not an easy choice.

"None if I were to help you."

Picard's request is analogous to an RPG player facing a difficult decision that could result in the death of their favorite character. Picard is afraid and uses Wiki and YouTube to help him find a way to save his character. This scene continues to address the need.

"There are twenty million lives down there. You know what happened. Picard stresses the importance of what will happen.

Rasmussen takes time to pause before answering, "And why did you ask to see me?"

"Because you are here, I may have access to information that was not available before."

Picard refers to the "type of information" that he is referring too. It is this knowledge that directly links his actions to their results. Although this path is not visible to Rasmussen's eyes, his presence shows that it exists.

Many video games offer a way for players to decide how their outcomes will be determined. It's there, hidden in code, or transcribed online, by developers.

Both cases show that the mere existence or absence of such knowledge can change choices into actions or self-denial. If you have a system that is simple and reliable, it is difficult to make good moral decisions. It doesn't matter what level of conviction or confidence a player has. The same outcome will be achieved regardless of which option is chosen.

Picard faces the same problem in "A Matter of Time". Picard says he has two choices, and that either version of history will win. Picard realizes that the best thing to do with all the information about fate is to choose the best outcome for the planet, and then to separate the paths leading there. Picard informs Rasmussen that he must maximize every asset. I would be irresponsible to not ask you questions here.

As long as there are ways to connect choices and results, people will be attracted to them. People may feel the need to question their instincts in order to get the best possible outcome for their lives.

Rasmussen's second reaction demonstrates the difficulties with this way of thinking. Picard's question causes him to become confused. Picard responds, "We are talking about more than just a choice." It sounds like you want to control the future.

This is A Matter of Time's main message. There is a huge difference between manipulating and choosing. There is a path that connects a person's choices with their outcomes. However, this can only been seen in the future. The human perception of the future is limited and it is impossible to consider all possible factors that could affect a decision made in the moment. A decision is a moment when, in chaos and uncertainty, we assign meaning to our actions. Because we can't predict how fate will interpret them, our decisions are limited to our thoughts, feelings, and consciences.

Picard describes Rasmussen refusing to help him as: "By refusing to me to assist, I was left to make the same decision that you made." To be safe or take a chance, to try or not, to take a risk or play it safe. Your arguments reminded me of the importance of the right to choose. Since I've never been one to be safe, I decided to try.

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