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The Ethics Of Game Production

August 23, 2013 Game Design and Production, IADT General 0 Comments

Ethics Of Game ProductionGame designers and producers are continually struggling to define their code of ethics.

At least that’s what San Jose Mercury news reporter Dean Takahashi argues. Takahashi believes that because video games are still a new medium – and because they are continually working with developing technology – it has been difficult for designers and producers to permanently enforce an ethical structure.

As a student of Game Production, it is important for you to understand why ethics are important to game design and how you can create an ethical code to work by.

Why are we building these games?

CEO and founder of Ayogo Games Inc. Michael Fergusson believes that as a designer or producer, your goal is to build an engaging and fun game that people want to play. But when you create a game that engages the human experience in this way, it becomes a media, a form of expression, and an influence.

Takahashi argues that game designers face the same moral issues that artists in any other communications medium face. He says, “They must struggle with balancing their rights to free expression with the tastes of consumers and be concerned about the effects their content has on their audience.” Without this concern, you may be designing and producing games that negatively impact your players.

Psychologists and researchers continue to debate the influence violent gameplay has on human beings. Regardless of your beliefs on this issue, you must acknowledge that any type of gaming has the potential to impact its players.

What can we do to make our games more ethical?

Fergusson argues that it can be helpful for game designers to understand evolutionary behavioral patterns when designing games. To be more ethical, you must understand how human beings behave and how this behavior can be impacted by the game design.

Another way to improve your ethical approach is to discuss ethics and morals with your peers and instructors. In his interview with Takahushi, program director of the International Game Developers Association Jason Della Rocca notes that discussing these topics is tricky because these ideas are often vague and slippery.

Della Rocca believes that “each person’s definition of what is ethical changes.” But, discussing these changes and how your view of ethics differs from a peer’s or instructor’s personal view can help you better understand ethics as a whole. Discussing can also help you fill in gaps in your understanding of ethics. In such a discussion, you can ask others:

  • How do the technology, environment and design of our games work together to support ethics?
  • Are our games fun and engaging? If so, how?
  • What types of behavior do our games appeal to?
  • What types of behavior do our games encourage?

As you continue your studies in Game Production at IADT, be mindful of the ways in which you can incorporate ethical gameplay into your designs.

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