Give your players decisions to make that matter…

One of the unfortunate parts of the current state of game design in our industry is that “decisions that matter” and “shades of moral gray” seem to be reserved exclusively for M-rated titles. (OK, maybe one or two Fables, etc, might be exceptions, but…)

Those players who experienced the game believing that their decisions mattered, who made ethical decisions with the long-term social structure of the game in mind, have unknowingly partaken in a grand experiment. Bioware is teaching ethics and civic education on a spaceship—intentionally or otherwise—and might be making the world a better place in the process.
Civic Education on a Spaceship < PopMatters

There are two benefits to designing great critical decisions for your players:

  1. The game is more fun, more meaning and more memorable.
  2. Playing the game will help make them better people by practicing the act of making good, moral decisions.

This does mean that you must provide them with the opportunity to choose “bad” option or options for any decision point – and the consequences must be more meaningful (but not necessarily immediate) than moving the character a few bars to the left on the evil-good HUD indicator. The key is tying the consequences back to the originating choice when the proverbial chickens come home to roost (without getting preachy).