The Forgotten Side of Video Game Ethics
Posted April 15, 2012 by (189)
Recently video game ethics have garnered quite a lot of media attention. In the late 80s and early 90s the only worry was about blocky characters leaking a few red pixels, but with the sharp increase in graphics technology there is a rising worry from many individuals about just how far we can go with graphic depictions of violence, or whether we have already gone too far.
When the word “ethics” is mentioned the aforementioned description is what the majority of readers will think of. Indeed, you most likely did when you read the title of this article. The blood and guts side of ethics certainly can be thought provoking, but at the same time it is a shame that it is the only area that gets any real attention from us. As gamers we often forget about the ethical dilemmas behind the pretty scenes and lines of code – the moral guidelines followed by those developing and publishing the games that we love and cherish. I don’t like to journey down nostalgia lane when I am arguably not old enough to warrant the trip, but going back just five years the picture of gaming was rather different. Let us make no mistake with the pricing of games (which are a common complaint) – they are as fair as ever; in fact, they are cheaper than they were a couple of decades ago despite many gamers thinking prices are increasing. The extra cost after we have the final product in our hands is a big issue that has hit us this generation. In the past we could buy a complete game and be done, or for the PC gamers amongst us could buy (what was for the most part) large, enriching expansion packs for a fraction for the price and get many more hours of gameplay out of their game.
By now you will have guessed the route heading down here. We all look at extortionate downloadable content prices and incompletely game releases as bad things, but rarely are they viewed as ethical wrongdoings on the part of the developers or publishers, and we continue to hand them our money whilst grumbling complaints under our breath. Game development is a perfectly valid business opportunity and I don’t blame people in the industry for wanting to make a profit, but it still needs to be remembered just how game development began. I’m not referring to the mid-80s when Nintendo arrived on the gaming scene and home gaming began to take off, but the time when the only home gaming you could do was play Pong emulators of varying quality on consoles such as the Magnavox Odyssey or Atari’s Pong machine. As such, those with particular computing prowess would have little choice but to make their own games. Developers and gamers were the same person and due to this there was true care that went in to the development of games that is becoming increasingly absent now that the gamers are viewed more like consumers nowadays.
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