List of ethical concerns in video games (partial) | Leigh Alexander

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This is an extraordinarily clear and well done list of  “real” ethical concerns respecting video games. Most, if not all, have significant legal implications and provide strong roots for excellent term papers.

Leigh Alexander’s terrific post can be found here: List of ethical concerns in video games (partial) | Leigh Alexander.

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4 responses to “List of ethical concerns in video games (partial) | Leigh Alexander”

  1. judmicha

    This is indeed a very interesting list. With respect to the point about apple’s curation/censorship of the app store, it’s both interesting and troublingly ironic that a game meant to highlight some of the forms of exploitation endemic to the global production chain for Western products could be said to have run afoul of a rule against depicting the abuse of children. I guess Apple has adopted a “see no evil” interpretation of its own rules. Meanwhile, Apple’s contractors in China operate factories so miserable that workers are now required to sign a pledge not to commit suicide.

    As an aside, I think that Ms Alexander’s list could have been done to better effect if the whole effort didn’t feel like a sarcastic swipe at the “gamers” that she severely criticized in another recent article.

  2. zhefei

    This is a little late but here’s some other ethical concerns that stood-out to me and came to my mind when I was browsing through this section:

    (1) Violence within Video Games – a common theory is that violence increases the risk of the gamer being adversely affected (increased aggression) and there has been many controversies relating to this issue (shooting in High Schools, etc.). More importantly, with the prevalence of the internet and mass distribution (be it in the form of illegal downloads), voluntary regulation: ratings of games (AO/M/PG) does not seem to have any practical effect, even if they were made legally binding. The recent judgment of Brown v Entertainment Merchants Association also ruled that Video games were protected speech under the First Amendment. This contrast in legal position and potential harm (violence) caused by exposure to such games is unsettling and perhaps the industry / law ought to regulate that on a bigger scale? But then again, violence is commonplace in the media and professional sports as well – ironic that society seems to want to have violence and are happy to live with that, until something bad happens.
    (2) Online Transactions – which includes micro-macro transactions within the game (i.e. WOW, Dota 2), or the bigger issue in recent times regarding that of downloadable content. Since a ton of video games are available and connected online, developers can release post-launch downloadable content (characters, levels) for free or for a price. It might be unethical because customers and gamers are paying for “less-than-their-expectations”. This is precisely because such DLC contents and transactions allow for game advantages, and in the rat race to the top it would seem like the kid with the larger piggy bank would would succeed better – hence games directly and indirectly discriminate against poorer individuals in their aim to maximise profits. Should the law have a say / stand in regulating this sort of behavior?

  3. joss

    I agree that it’s an interesting article but disagree with some of the issues that are not currently ethical concerns. People having controversial or contentious opinions being harassed by the gaming community is a really important ethical concern. It immediately made me think of Jennifer Hepler, who wanted the option to skip the fighting sections of the game just like some gamers choose to skip the story portions. The idea that people might be able to play in different ways really angered members of the community who ended up calling her a “cancer” among other horrible things. The irony is, controversial opinions can actually improve games. What if someone has an amazing new idea but they are are unwilling to voice it because they don’t want to be harassed by so-called “traditional gamers”? I think it’s not just an ethical issue when you abuse people in this way, it’s also making games poorer by restricting creativity through lynch mob censorship.

    Zhefei – your idea that games discriminate against poorer people is really interesting. I’m not sure that the law should regulate the behaviour (it seems too harsh a tool) but perhaps some kind of in-game regulation would be better? What if you were entered into a lottery to win this content and could gain additional ballots by paying for it OR engaging with the game to a higher level than other players (e.g. you have a certain amount of xp, have got to a certain level etc). Socialist gaming! I’m not sure developers would go for it though.