If you were to pick one character in Virtue’s Last Reward to be your favorite, who would you pick and why? (highlight to read spoilers)
The first is the way that Luna discusses the Three Laws of Robotics. The Three Laws have been around in sci-fi for a long time, but usually (to my knowledge at least) they show up as some sort of hard-coded directives where robots are literally prevented from engaging in behavior that exceeds them. In contrast, Luna’s relationship to the Three Laws makes them seem more like a belief system: Although she clearly doesn’t think she should violate them, it’s also clear that she can—she tells Sigma that she could have prevented Akane from being killed, which pretty clearly means she violated “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” That means Luna spends the whole game struggling with a very human idea: Do you stick to what you’ve been told to do when it conflicts with your beliefs? It seems like Luna does, presumably because she believes it serves the greater good, until the very end when she finally can’t take it anymore and breaks the rules even when she knows it’s going to kill her.
That particular choice brings me to the next point, which is Luna’s apparent humanity, and the way she’s treated by the humans who created and control her. If we go by the conclusion that G-OLM seems to draw from the Chinese Room, Luna’s behavior is human enough that, even if she doesn’t technically fit the specifications, she might as well be human. She clearly cares a great deal for Sigma, and her worries and choices reflect a mind that seems awfully human. If that’s the case, and Luna is effectively human, then a lot of the things that are done to her are downright horrific: The penalty for breaking the rules? More-or-less immediate death, or the closest a robot is going to come to death. She’s created to serve Old Sigma and Akane, which means they endowed her with the personality she has, but to what end? Doesn’t it seem kind of cruel to create what amounts to a robotic slave, and then give it a personality and what certainly appears to be consciousness?
While a lot of the characters in VLR have interesting complex personalities (Alice is another of my favorites), Luna’s choices and her very nature raised what I considered to be some of the thorniest questions the game had to offer, and for that reason I think she’s one of its most compelling characters.