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


DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG
Dundee, Scotland: Digital Games Research Association and Society for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games, August, 2016
Number: 1
Volume: 13
ISBN / ISNN: ISSN 2342-9666

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.