Ethics in the Video Game Industry

Like any industry, the video game industry certainly has its fair share of ongoing ethical debates regarding the sort of content that designers should be allowed to place in their games. The issues themselves are indeed ethically questionable issues, with potentially consequential results. I have chosen four that highlight the importance and nature of some of these debates. One of these debates is about excessive violence in video games, and whether it’s ethical to produce games with high levels of gore and extreme violence.

Many people, particularly parents, believe that these sorts of games can lead to aggressive behavior in children if they’re played frequently, and that it will desensitize the children to violence. Though studies haven’t been thoroughly conclusive, it is believed that video games pose a greater danger than other forms of media, such as movies and comics, because the player is put directly in control of causing it, and directly experiences it through the persona of the main character [Ethica].

It’s believed, for example, that violent video games might have been a factor influencing the Columbine shootings in 1999, as both the perpetrators were known to enjoy playing violent video games. As video games become increasingly realistic, the fear that in-game violence will carry over to real life has also rose. Attempts to pass laws preventing the creation of these games, though, has been struck down as a violation of freedom of expression. This means it is in the hands of the designers to make the call themselves.

When the industry was just starting out, it was argued whether or not video games should even be allowed to be made that were about war. People believed that these sort of games portrayed war in an almost positive way, and created the illusion that war was fun. As the industry matured, most video game developers began working in ways to defeat this notion, such as including personal stories of soldiers [Reeder], or showing the results of war on cities and the population. Another issue is whether or not said violent video games should be allowed to be sold to children. Although some

chains will not sell these types of games to children directly, most will do little to interfere if someone buys it for their kids, even if they do it blatantly. Some chains, on the other hand, have no problem handing these games out to whoever will pay for them regardless of age. There’s a complete lack of regulation, and many people feel that selling these games to children is wrong and should not be allowed. Some feel, however, that if the children purchase said games, the parents are to blame and the stores shouldn’t be held responsible. The law has yet to take action in any meaningful way, so this debate continues.

Another huge issue is whether it is ethical for the video game industry to take advantage of the addicting quality of their games. There are many games these days which are created as vast, open-ended worlds with so many things to do that in order to hope to accomplish a large amount of them you would certainly need to devote quite a large amount of time. Knowing that, and also knowing that games are factually addicting, is it right for them to create such a game? Many people that play these sorts of games develop pathological addictions to them.

As a result, their real life relationships and circumstances suffer. Marriages fall apart, friendships deteriorate, jobs are lost, and opportunities discarded. There are cases where people have declined going to college because they would rather play these games. One man had to sell his computer to pay the rent, but yet continued playing from a friend’s house. This last one I particularly identify with, because it has affected some of my friends in the past. One of them was able to defeat his addiction and stop playing, but my other friend was not so successful.

It became so terrible that he ended up dropping out of college and to this day lives at home, unemployed. It could be argued that it’s his parents fault, for not stepping in more and putting a stop to it. It could be argued it’s his fault, for not being able to disconnect himself. Even still, it stems from the fact that these games exist and play off the fact that they know they are addicting, and they know that players will feel the need to keep playing just to get a bit farther. As if that weren’t already troubling, these games are often frequently updated, and so theoretically they could continue forever, with no end in sight.

It’s hard for some people to draw the strength of willpower to stop, much like in the case of people who smoke; Even if they know that it’s bad for them, and that it negatively affects those around them, stopping outright isn’t easy and is usually a gradual process. Suffice to say, the video game industry is rife with ethical problems, many of which are tricky to resolve. This paper has presented only four of them, but they are incredibly important, and there are no doubt many more. Personally, I feel these are very important issues to consider when creating a game, especially considering the consequences.

The truth is though, for now at least, the actual decisions regarding the content of a video game is entirely dependent on the judgment of the designers. Conceivably though, if people made a big enough fuss to the point where such games no longer turn a profit, those types of games would no longer be made on a very large scale. It can be hard for some players to strike a balance between video games and reality, and as a result there is much debate over what designers should and shouldn’t be doing with their video games. Works Cited Becker, David. “Game creators tackle ethical issues – CNET News. ” Technology News – CNET News.

N. p. ,n. d. Web. 1 Oct. 2012. <http://news. cnet. com/2100-1040-867451. html>. Dang, Jimmy, Jin Lee, and Chau Nguyen. “Playing With Ethics: Video Game Controversy. ” Ethica Publishing. Ethica Publishing, n. d. Web. 1 Oct. 2012 ethicapublishing. com/ethical/3CH12. pdf Reeder, Sara. “Computer game ethics. ” Classic Computer Magazine Archive. N. p. , n. d. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. <http://www. atarimagazines. com/ compute/issue137/10 0_Computer_game_ethics MLA formatting by BibMe. org. I neither gave nor received unauthorized aid in completing this work, nor have I presented someone else’s work as my own. Signed, Brandon Vivian.