The traditional role of the NPC (Non-Player-Character) in a virtual environment is to provide an antagonist for the player to compete against in some form of narrative. With recent advances in computing and AI fields, the AI that powers NPCs is reaching complex new heights. These NPCs in high budget games go to a virtual home, have virtual families, have simulated morals, and experience simulated fear. Questions of morality arise in giving NPCs self awareness. The figures represent a spectrum of emotions that we feel.
If the machines that we fight and punish in a virtual world feel pain, is it moral to punish them for existing?