I have no idea how often the question of morality comes up but it does not come up enough to keep me happy (in fact morality in our society seems to never be addressed outside of a neoliberal framework but I digress). Recently I came across an article from last year and it got me thinking because of one particular point the article made. The article in question can be found here.
For the most part I agree with the author of that piece. There is one thing that comes up repeatably in the morals and games debate (and in the article) which calls for video games to be treated as something separate from the “real world”. As if games aren’t a human creation and can’t be held to the same standards (or high ground) as stories in other mediums.
It’s worth noting that in both articles they debate the issue of violence in video games and not other moral issues.
The author references this article at IGN which proclaims that real world morals have no place in video games. This is the reasoning in a nutshell:
“Because the logic inside a game system is different from our everyday (that is, you would never do a forward roll into a palm tree in real life and expect coins to come out) the morality must be different,” writes Biggs. “The action in any given game can be as ludicrously separate from the morality of the real world as the developers allow, and should be safe from moral judgement on real-world terms.”
I take issue with this.
Just because the interaction with the world is different doesn’t we cannot presuppose that the morals are different. For example, if we had flying cars and one flying car driver causes a collision, would we think about driver responsibility differently? Probably not – we would hold the driver at fault to account.
Even if, say, there’s a game that lets players intercept communications of random people (like the upcoming Watch Dogs) is it a different moral question than what the American and Canadian governments are doing? The same moral questions can be applied to both scenarios even if in the game a person can get coins for illegal wiretapping.
Not all is lost, if you’re wondering what you should make of all of this moral stuff maybe you can start by investigating if your job is ethical.