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Computer Games: Morality in the Virtual World Essay (Article)

Is It an Addiction?

The computer game industry is now one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. Millions of people play various computer games. Clearly, children and teenagers are major users of these products but there are many gamers among adults as well.

There is a wide range of games and genres, each person chooses a game or even a virtual world to his/her liking. Some people are too absorbed by the virtual world and computer games become an addiction.

Nonetheless, it is rather an issue of the human psychology than of the product, as only certain people prefer the virtual to the real world.

Players as Moral Beings

It is necessary to note that ethics and morality of computer games have been a focus of scholarly research for a number of years (Ford, 2001). Researchers state that the virtual world is a moral world and, hence, players are moral beings.

This assumption is justified by the fact that there are some rules in games and players follow those rules, which creates a certain moral paradigm (Sicart, 2005). An example of such moral rules is the peculiarity of many games where players cannot destroy players of their team or other characters (for example, hostages) (Sicart, 2011).

Therefore, it is possible to state that players are moral beings that have a specific code of conduct and this code creates the bonds and makes up a community.

Product Placement in Computer Games

Obviously, being a multibillion industry, computer games are seen as a world of many opportunities for advertisers. Product placement has become quite a common thing for cinematography and television. It is clear that such type of media as computer games can also be of interest to advertisers.

Product placement is quite appropriate when it comes to advertising aimed at adults. However, there can be certain ethical issues related to advertising aimed at children. Clearly, in such games, product placement should be minimum and developers of games have to be very responsible (avoid advertising potentially harmful products).

Are There Gender Differences?

It is possible to note that virtual worlds that have been created are very diverse. They respond to needs and aspirations of different groups of people. Of course, there are certain gender differences in this sphere as well.

Sicart (2011) notes that the majority of virtual worlds are dominated by males, and females who also want to enter the world and participate in its creation may face certain difficulties (for example, some kind of discrimination, lack of support or communication and so on).

However, there are various worlds where females are dominating (Sims can be seen as one of the examples of the game for females). Males prefer action and creating stories (races, shooting, analysing positions) while females prefer storytelling and details (adventures, searching for details, creating worlds).

Honour among Gamers

Since it has been acknowledged that virtual worlds are moral, it is but natural to assume that there is honour among gamers. Sicart (2005) argues that there is a certain honour system among participants and co-creators of virtual worlds.

Each game (each virtual world) has a set of rules that are expanded by gamers and these rules constitute the honour system of the particular game. It is necessary to note that these sets of morals are often employed in the virtual world only as many people create alter egos when playing games (Ford, 2001).

At the same time, many morals can often appear in the real world.

Reference List

Ford, P.J. (2001). A further analysis of the ethics of representation in virtual reality: Multi-user environments. Ethics and Information Technology, 3, 113-121.

Sicart, M. (2005). Game, player, ethics: A virtue ethics approach to computer games. International Review of Information Ethics, 4, 13-18.

Sicart, M. (2011). The ethics of computer games. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

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C., Jaeden. 2019. "Computer Games: Morality in the Virtual World." IvyPanda (blog), June 21, 2019.


C., J. (2019) 'Computer Games: Morality in the Virtual World'. IvyPanda, 21 June.

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