Game Creation, Monetisation Models, and Ethical Concerns

Karlsen Faltin
2020 DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere

This paper explores the relationship between monetisation models, game design and ethical considerations from the perspective of three different small-scale Norwegian game companies. Interviews with game designers and CEOs form the empirical basis of the analysis. The analysis shows that their notion of the market situation differs and that concepts like quality and ethical responsibility vary greatly between the companies. A concern they all share is that the computer game market is becoming increasingly difficult to monetise and that using models like loot boxes seem more relevant now than before.


Ethics at Play in Undertale: Rhetoric, Identity and Deconstruction

Seraphine Frederic
2018 DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message

This paper focuses on the effect of ethical – and unethical – actions of the player on their perception of the self towards game characters within Toby Fox’s (2015) independent Role Playing Game (RPG) Undertale, a game often perceived as a pacifist text. With a focus on the notions of guilt and responsibility in mind, a survey with 560 participants from the Undertale fandom was conducted, and thousands of YouTube comments were scraped to better understand how the audience who watched or played the different routes of the game, refer to its characters. Through the joint analysis of the game’s semiotics, survey data, and data scraping, this paper argues that, beyond the rhetorical nature of its story, Undertale is operating a deconstruction of the RPG genre and is harnessing the emotional power of gameplay to evoke thoughts about responsibility and raise the player’s awareness about violence and its consequences.


Harvester of Desires: Gaming Amazon Echo through John Cayley’s The Listeners

Okkema Laura
2018 DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message

Over the past two years, smart speakers such as Amazon Echo have become popular entertainment technologies and, increasingly, game platforms in households across the globe. These systems are controlled through voice-interactive Artificial Intelligences such as Amazon’s Alexa. The present work seeks to open a conversation about voice-interactive games on smart speaker systems in game studies. While these platforms open exciting new creative spaces for gamers and game developers alike, they also raise ethical concerns: Smart speakers are powerful twenty-first century surveillance capable of interpreting, recording and synthesizing human speech. Through the lens of a case study on John Cayley’s ludic Alexa skill The Listeners, this paper interrogates how Amazon Echo’s technological affordances enable new forms of surveillance while also giving rise to a new poetics of voice interaction. Illuminating aesthetic and ethical dimensions can help scholars in game studies assess the risks and perks of this new ludic platform.


War Ethics: A Framework for Analyzing Videogames

Zagal José P.
2017 DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference

While much has been done exploring how ethics and videogames can overlap in interesting ways, there is little work examining the philosophy of war and its relation to videogames. This seems unusual since videogames have a long tradition of engaging with war as its subject matter. We provide a framework for analyzing and articulating ethical issues and concerns in videogames that feature representations of war. This framework is based in traditional war ethics, more specifically the notion of the “just war” and considers the ethical concerns that include when engaging in a war is morally justified (jus ad bellum), how to wage a war ethically (jus in bello) and the ethical responsibilities of the aftermath of a war (jus post bellum). Our framework consists of five lenses consisting of the perspective offered to players, the scale and scope of war represented, the centrality of war to the game experience, the type of military that appear in the game, and the authenticity of a game’s representation. For each lens we also provide a list of questions that can be used to examine the subtleties and nuances of how war is represented in the game that hopefully lead to deeper and more insightful analyses. We conclude with thoughts on how this approach could be productive as well as outline some additional areas worth considering for future work.


Good Violence, Bad Violence: The Ethics of Competition in Multiplayer Games

Nguyen C. Thi Zagal José P.
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Most game studies research on ethics and games examines the ways games encode, express, and encourage ethical reflection and ideas through their systems, mechanics, and representational elements. However, not much attention has been paid to the ethical aspects of games as/when they are played by more than one player. In this article we use literature from the philosophy of sports to discuss how competition can be framed as an ethical activity and how doing so allows us to examine commonly used value-laden terms such as ganking, spawncamping, and trash talking. We propose the idea of the ideal moral competitive game: a game in which the best moves or plays are coincidentally those that result in the best possible degree and type of challenge for my opponent. From this baseline we then articulate a preliminary ethics of play, centered on competition that can be productive for examining and understanding the ethics of inter-player interactions.