There’s a train running down the tracks, heading towards five people who can’t move. Pulling a lever will divert the train, but doing so means one person will die. Doing nothing means the train will hit the five people. What do you do?
You’ve probably heard of that philosophical dilemma before; called ‘The Trolley Problem’, it first came to light in a philosophy paper written by Philippa Foot in 1967, and was later given its name by Judith Jarvis Thomson in 1976. That very dilemma forms the basis of upcoming game Trolley Problem, Inc, which poses to you 60 questions to really test your morality.
This isn’t a light-hearted and happy game, but Trolley Problem, Inc‘s bold and simple aesthetic – which feels a little like a PowerPoint presentation created by Transport for London – does a great job of sucking you in. It also does a great job of making you feel like an absolutely terrible human being. There are no right or wrong answers here, of course; it’s all down to your personal viewpoint. And while each question is different from the one before it, they all lean into the same sort of philosophy created by The Trolley Problem.
Some of Trolley Problem, Inc‘s questions are based on classic philosophy while others are modern takes on the concept. What’s really cool is that each question posed to you has a reference note linking to a reading list, providing you with further material to delve into should you feel the need to further explore the ideas raised in the game.
That sounds heavy, and I suppose the material housed within Trolley Problem, Inc is. But it’s presented in a very accessible package that’s suitable to be played by grown-ups of all walks of life. The tough moral questions means it’s probably not suitable for children, though; this is a game designed for adults, and one that’s really designed to challenge their thinking. Do you push an overweight man off a bridge in order to save five other people, or do you do nothing? Do you program a car’s AI to run over a child who has fallen over in the road, or to save the child but fall off a cliff, killing the two passengers inside? It’s heavy stuff, but very interesting.
After answering each question, you’ll be shown where you sit compared to other players; whether you’re in the majority or something of an outlier. With only ever two options to choose between, though, it’s likely most will be fairly evenly split – which is interesting in itself.
Trolley Problem, Inc is set to release in April on Steam. It’s well worth checking out if you enjoy philosophy and like to have your morality challenged. Wishlist it on Steam by clicking here.