Ethics in the Video Game Industry

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Brandon Vivian
University Seminar
October 22, 2012

Ethical Debates in Video Game Design

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...
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