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Ethical Issues in Video Games

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 852 words Published: 15th Aug 2017

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Are Ethics Important /Relevant in Visual Media? Discuss

This essay aims to understand what video games are and which kind of ethical questions they pose from various perspectives and to determine which ethical problems video games pose. These issues will be described using ethical conceptual terms and will be explained using ethical theory to attempt to reach a verdict on the ethical nature of video games.

Philosophers and ethicists are interested in the ethical dilemmas in the intersection of arts, culture and technology posed by video games, while game designers might be interested not only in the argument for ethics in games, but also the implementation of ethical discussion that may lead to more mature, challenging products.

The term ‘game’ covers a wide range of different activities and pastimes. Soccer, tennis, monopoly and Grand Theft Auto V (2014) can all be categorised as games, with very different experiences and rules. They do however; hold similar elements that define them as the same class.

To understand what exactly games we can refer to Jesper Juulwho states that “a  game is  a rule-based system with  a variable  and  quantifiable  outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort  in  order to influence the out-come, the player feels attached to the outcome, and the consequences  of  the  activity  are  optional  and  negotiable”  (Juul, 2004). Video games are utilized through the use of computer power and the computer controls the rules in which the game is played with the player interacting through the use of a video display

Juul merged different approaches and concepts to allow researchers to share their findingsin a common language. Juul’s definition outlines the difference between the different levels of functionality and fundamental rules created in most games. (Miguel sicart, 2005)This means that video games can be analysed as self-contained worlds and systems separately and also how they interact with each other. Neither takes into account the player or the intentions the player has while interacting with the game. This separation is important while attempting to gain an ethical understanding of a game because it entrusts the player with moral attributes and gives the ability to the player to create their individual experiences based on their own values and cultural influences.

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In short, games are made up of a precise set of rules that creates a world that a player experiences. (Zimmerman & Salen, 2003). It could also be said thata video game only exists when being interacted with even though it is possible to outline its rules, which are the objective nature and could be treated as a important part of the construction of the players experience. Understanding the ethics involved in video games will require the researcher to determine precisely how a computer game as an object with moral attributes and experiences is created.
Aristotle’s distinction between potential and actuality can be used here. For example, if a player reads a rule book for a game of any type they can have an overall view of what that game consists of. It does not however, give the user a complete overview of the history of chess or many other elements of the game such as the type of player you are in competition against or a view of flaws that may be present in a particular opponent’s strategy. The substance of any type of game is not just its rules but also the practical existence of those rules. To fully understand this relationship we can use a classic distinction of Aristotelian metaphysics that is potentiality and actuality

According to Aristotle’s metaphysics, things present a capability of evolving into a different and more complete state, this can also be referred to as the actuality of that thing. The classic example would be a boy being the potentiality of a man. Aristotle also argues that actuality is prior and has priority over actuality: before defining what the potentiality might be, we have to be aware of its actuality; and it is this actuality which is the reason why the potentiality is not only acquired, but developed. (Stanfordedu, 2016)

In regards to video games, just like any other form of games, this means that the rules of a game are only viewed as the potential contained within the game, only by playing the game can we understand the potential places the game can be taken. In a game like Candy Crush (2014), different coloured pieces of candy fall down the screen and need to be matched with the same type candies, the goal is to avoid filling the screen are the conditions for the game that which the players abide by in order to play the game successfully.

The rule set contains the ways the game can be played, but only the presence of a player will activate those potentialities and make them become a game (Miguel sicart, 2005)


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