Many have offered moral objections to video games, with various critics contending that they depict and promote morally dubious attitudes and behaviour. However, few have offered moral arguments in favour of video games. In this chapter, we develop one such positive moral argument. Specifically, we argue that video games offer one of the only morally acceptable methods for acquiring some ethical knowledge. Consequently, we have (defeasible) moral reasons for creating, distributing, and playing certain morally educating video games.
Although the fictional domain exhibits a prima facie freedom from real-world moral constraints, certain fictive imaginings seem to deserve moral criticism. Capturing both intuitions, this paper argues for double-standard moralism, the view that fictive imaginings are subject to different moral standards than their real-world counterparts. I show how no account has, thus far, offered compelling reasons to warrant the moral appropriateness of this discrepancy. I maintain that the normative discontinuity between fiction and the actual world is moderate, as opposed to (...) one that leaves fictive engagements wholly exempt from moral evaluations. I propose a way of addressing the gamer’s dilemma that is compatible with a moderate kind of discontinuity. Finally, I contend that the audience is justified in adopting deviant moral attitudes in fictional situations because their consequences largely differ from those that analogous real-world events would have. (shrink)
Ethics in video gaming is broad topic that extends beyond the familiar instances of “moral panics”. This chapter will first divide ethical issues into internal and external moral questions. Roughly, this equates to a distinction between the ethics in games and the ethics of games. The ethical issues internal to video games arise due to both their status as fictions and their status as games. Many games afford players the opportunity to perform violent and vicious acts; however, these are of (...) course fictional actions and are often contextualized as part of the game’s competitive play. This raises the general question whether it can ever be morally wrong to perform some fictional action in a video game. To approach this question, this section will first consider how moral values are inherent within games. Players engage with the embedded moral values of games both at the level of their narratives and their rules. Games become objects for moral reflection, not only through the stories that they tell, but also through the ways in which players are invited to engage actively with those stories. Next, external ethical issues are those that focus on the nature of the gaming industry and gaming cultures. The gaming industry has notoriously struggled with representations of gender and race, both in their workforce and in the games that they produce. Turning to the ecological impacts, the gaming industry is a major source of e-waste through the production of gaming technologies. The hardware used in gaming has a lifecycle that begins with the exploitation of resource-rich developing countries that produce the precious materials used in computer screens and processing chips and ends with those same products being dumped in toxic landfills in other developing countries. Additionally, gaming is a major source of energy consumption, particularly as cloud gaming servers are required to run continuously. When considering the ethics of games, such social and ecological concerns must surely figure in one’s moral calculation. Finally, some moral issues straddle the line between the above distinction between internal and external due to the porous nature of virtual interactivity, particularly regarding multiplayer games. Various gaming cultures struggle with their own ethical issues—from the failure to promote sportsmanship in e-sports to the widespread harassment of players in online platforms. This final section will briefly consider problems with multiplayer games, harassment, and trolling. (shrink)
This paper interprets the influential colony management simulator ‘Dwarf Fortress’ existentially, in terms of finitude, absurdity, and narrative. It applies Aarseth/Möring’s proposed method of game interpretation, adopting their definition of ‘cybermedia’ as a generalized game ontology, then providing a specialized ontology of ‘Dwarf Fortress’ which describes its genre and salient gameplay features, incorporating Ian Bogost’s concept of ‘procedural rhetoric’. It then gives an existentialist interpretation of ‘Dwarf Fortress’ which centres on ‘finitude’, ‘absurdity’, and ‘narrative’, showing that ‘Dwarf Fortress’ is a (...) game about the existential tensions involved in being human. We live knowing our lives and civilizations are finite, that there are radical limits on what we can know and do. There is no meaning inherent in the world, or in history, so it is up to us to create our own, and one of our most powerful ways of doing this is narrative. (shrink)
What role do imaginary games have in story-telling? Why do fiction authors outline the rules of a game that the reader will never watch or play? Combining perspectives from philosophy, literature and game studies, this book provides the first in-depth investigation into the significance of games in fictional worlds. With examples from contemporary cinema and literature, from The Hunger Games to the science fiction of Iain M. Banks, Stefano Gualeni and Riccardo Fassone introduce four key functions that different types of (...) imaginary games have in worldbuilding. First, fictional games can emphasize the dominant values and ideologies of the fictional society they belong to. Second, some games function as critical, utopian tools, inspiring shifts in the thinking and political orientation of the fictional characters. Third, imaginary games, especially those with a magical component, are conducive to the transcendence of a particular form of being, such as the overcoming of human corporeality. And fourth, fictional games can deceptively blur the boundaries between the contingency of play and the irrevocable seriousness of "real life", either camouflaging life as a game or disguising a game as something with more permanent consequences. With illustrations in every chapter, bringing the imaginary games to life, Gualeni and Fassone creatively inspire us to consider fictional games anew: not as moments of playful reprieve in a storyline, but as significant and multi-layered rhetorical devices. (shrink)
The Gamer’s Dilemma refers to the philosophical challenge of justifying the intuitive difference people seem to see between the moral permissibility of enacting virtual murder and the moral impermissibility of enacting virtual child molestation in video games (Luck Ethics and Information Technology, 1:31, 2009). Recently, Luck in Philosophia, 50:1287–1308, 2022 has argued that the Gamer’s Dilemma is actually an instance of a more general “paradox”, which he calls the “paradox of treating wrongdoing lightly”, and he proposes a graveness resolution to (...) this paradox. In response, we argue for four key claims. First, we accept Luck’s expansion of the Gamer’s Dilemma to be applicable to a wider set of media, but give a novel recasting of this in terms of the Paradox of Fictionally Going Too Far. Second, we develop a novel criticism of Luck in Philosophia, 50:1287–1308, 2022 graveness resolution to this broader paradox. Third, we argue that the Paradox of Fictionally Going Too Far helps to expose an implicit moralism in the Gamer’s Dilemma literature when compared to relevant nearby literatures about other forms of media. Fourth, we consider a range of non-moral, cultural and media conventions that plausibly help to dissolve the intuitive moral gap between non-sexual and sexual violence that is central to this paradox. (shrink)
This is a reply to Elisabeth Camp's and Elijah Millgram's probing discussions of "Games and the Art of Agency", in a symposium in Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy. Millgram argues that games cannot function as a guide to life, because they are too different from life. Games are limited in a special way: in life, we deliberate about what goals we want to take on, but in games, the goals are fixed and given to us. Camp argues that there (...) is nothing particularly special about games, because the fluidity of agency is all over ordinary life too - games are just like ordinary life. I respond to Millgram: we do deliberate about our ends, in games, when we aesthetically reflect on which games to play. And I respond to Camp: games are distinctive in the way they regulate how our reasons flow across the game/life border. To respond to these criticisms, I add some substantial new features to my account of the motivational structure of game-play. (shrink)
As artefacts, the worlds of digital games are designed and developed to fulfil certain expressive, functional, and experiential objectives. During play, players infer these purposes and aspirations from various aspects of their engagement with the gameworld. Influenced by their sociocultural backgrounds, sensitivities, gameplay preferences, and familiarity with game conventions, players construct a subjective interpretation of the intentions with which they believe the digital game in question was created. By analogy with the narratological notion of the implied author, we call the (...) figure to which players ascribe these intentions ‘the implied designer’. In this article, we introduce the notion of the implied designer and present an initial account of how appreciators ascribe meaning to interactive, fictional gameworlds and act within them based on what they perceive to be the designer’s intentions. (shrink)
The gamer’s dilemma offers three plausible but jointly inconsistent premises: (1) Virtual murder in video games is morally permissible. (2) Virtual paedophelia in video games is not morally permissible. (3) There is no morally relevant difference between virtual murder and virtual paedophelia in video games. In this paper I argue that the gamer’s dilemma can be understood as one of three distinct dilemmas, depending on how we understand two key ideas in Morgan Luck’s (2009) original formulation. The two ideas are (...) those of (1) occurring in a video game and (2) being a virtual instance of murder or paedophelia. Depending on the weight placed on the gaming context, the dilemma is either about in-game acts or virtual acts. And depending on the type of virtual acts we have in mind, the dilemma is either about virtual representations or virtual partial reproductions of murder and paedophelia. This gives us three dilemmas worth resolving: a gaming dilemma, a representation dilemma, and a simulation dilemma. I argue that these dilemmas are about different issues, apply to different cases, and are susceptible to different solutions. I also consider how different participants in the debate have interpreted the dilemma in one or more of these three ways. (shrink)
David Chalmers a récemment soutenu que la réalité virtuelle est réelle, plutôt que fictionnelle. Dans cet article, j’examine les implications ontologiques de ce « réalisme virtuel ». Comme je le suggère, cette position s’associe naturellement à une ontologie algorithmique, qui identifie les objets virtuels à des structures de données comprises de manière fonctionnelle. Je présente ensuite plusieurs objections à cette ontologie algorithmique. Tant que celles-ci ne sont pas réglées, la question de l’identité des mondes et des objets virtuels reste encore (...) en suspens. (shrink)
Videogames are a pervasive part of lives of children and adults alike, with 73%of Americans older than 2 years engaging with them (Group, 2019). Playingvideogames can be seen as an activity that is done through our fingertips andwith our visual apparatus focused on a screen, without involvement of the restof our body, and it is usually considered as such from a cognitivist point ofview (Campbell, 2012; Gee, 2003; Klimmt and Hartmann, 2006) however thisraises the question of whether videogames can alternatively (...) be thought of as anembodied experience, and if so, how can we formulate them as such, and whatfactors are at play? (shrink)
Alongside the direct parallels and contrasts between traditional narrative fiction and games, there lie certain partial analogies that provide their own insights. This article begins by examining a direct parallel between narrative fiction and games—the role of fictional reliefs and reality checks in shaping aesthetic engagement—before arguing that from this a partial analogy can be developed stemming from a feature that distinguishes most games from most traditional fictions: the presence of rules. The relation between rules and fiction in games has (...) heretofore been acknowledged but not examined in detail, giving an impression of a tension that is constant. However, the paired concepts of formal reliefs and representation checks, once introduced, allow us to explain how rules and fiction interact to alter the ways in which players engage with games in a dynamic but limited way. (shrink)
This article strives to make novel headway in the debate concerning esports' relationship to sports by focusing on the relationship between esports and physicality. More precisely, the aim of this article is to critically assess the claim that esports fails to be sports because it is never properly “direct” or “immediate” compared to physical sports. To do so, I focus on the account of physicality presented by Jason Holt, who provides a theoretical framework meant to justify the claim that esports (...) is never properly immediate and therefore never sports. I begin by motivating Holt's account of physicality by contrasting it with a more classical way of discussing physicality and sports, namely in terms of physical motor skills. Afterwards, I introduce Holt's account of physicality as immediacy and engage with its assumptions more thoroughly to problematize the claim that esports is fundamentally indirect. Lastly, I argue that the assumption that esports necessarily lacks immediacy is based on a narrow understanding of body and, consequently, of space. In response, I offer a different way of thinking about body and space, focusing on the subjective, bodily engagement of the esports practitioners with their practice, whereby physical space and virtual space can be appreciated as immediately interconnected during performance in a hybrid manner. In providing such an account, the article contributes directly to the broader, growing discussion on the relationship between physicality and virtuality in an increasingly digital world. (shrink)
Morality meters are a commonly used mechanic in many ethically notable video games. However, there have been several theoretical critiques of such meters, including that people can find them alienating, they can instrumentalise morality, and they reduce morality to a binary of good and evil with no room for complexity. While there has been much theoretical discussion of these issues, there has been far less empirical investigation. We address this gap through a qualitative study that involved participants playing a custom-built (...) visual novel game (The Great Fire) with different intuitive and counter-intuitive morality meter settings. Overall, we found that players’ attitudes towards the morality meter in this game was complex, context sensitive and variable throughout gameplay and that the intuitiveness of the meter encouraged participants to treat the meter more ‘as a moral guide’ that prompts reflection and less ‘as a score’ to be engaged with reactively. (shrink)
Philosophical games are games designed to invite players to think philosophically within (and about) their gameworlds. They are interactive fictions allowing players to engage with philosophical themes in ways that often set them apart from non-interactive kinds of speculative fictions (such as philosophical novels or thought experiments). To better understand philosophical games, this entry proposes to distinguish two primary ways in which a philosophical game can approach its themes: dialectically or rhetorically.
In this paper, I argue that the video game Asteroids’ enduring appeal turns on its ability to be read as futurist text. I connect Asteroids’ black and white aesthetic to the phenomenologist Vivian Sobchack’s notion of postfuturism. Central to postfuturism is a change from representations of space as deep to representations of space as surface, incapable of concealment. I consider materials designed to absorb almost all visible light—which I call holoblacks—as pushing past representations of space as surface into a paradigm (...) of non-representation of space or space as non-representation. I argue that this non-representation is what is meant by Martin Heidegger in the concept of a thing. I therefore offer an interpretation of Heidegger’s Lichtung, or clearing, in which holoblacks act as a vehicle for the gathering, disclosure and nearing of world which I call ‘clearance futurism’. I conclude by reading Asteroids as a clearance futurist text. (shrink)
Intuitively, many people seem to hold that engaging in acts of virtual murder in videogames is morally permissible, whereas engaging in acts of virtual child molestation is morally impermissible. The Gamer’s Dilemma (Luck in Ethics Inf Technol 11:31–36, 2009) challenges these intuitions by arguing that it is unclear whether there is a morally relevant difference between these two types of virtual actions. There are two main responses in the literature to this dilemma. First, attempts to resolve the dilemma by defending (...) an account of the relevant moral differences between virtual murder and virtual child molestation. Second, attempts to dissolve the dilemma by undermining the intuitions that ground it. In this paper, we argue that a narrow version of the Gamer’s Dilemma seems to survive attempts to resolve or dissolve it away entirely, since neither approach seems to be able to solve the dilemma for all cases. We thus provide a contextually sensitive version of the dilemma that more accurately tracks onto the intuitions of gamers. However, we also argue that the intuitions that ground the narrow version of the Dilemma may not have a moral foundation, and we put forward alternative non-moral normative foundations that seem to better account for the remaining intuitive difference between the two types of virtual actions. We also respond to proposed solutions to the Gamer’s Dilemma in novel ways and set out areas for future empirical work in this area. (shrink)
In this article it is argued that the videogame Far Cry 2 manages to take advantage of the heroic formula so characteristic of the first-person shooter videogame genre in a way that potentially prompts players to reflect on the ethical adequacy of their own decision to immerse themselves in a fictional scenario in which they take the role of a fictional character whose behaviour primarily, if not exclusively, consists in shooting.
Comix Zone (Sega Technical Institute, 1995) is a two-dimensional scrolling beat ‘em up videogame released in 1995 for the Sega Mega Drive (known as Sega Genesis in North America). Comix Zone has two peculiarities which makes it even today an easily distinguishable videogame. These peculiarities are interrelated. First, Comix Zone imitates the aesthetics and visual settings peculiar to comic books, the aim of which is to join the experience of playing a videogame with that of reading a comic; and second, (...) Comix Zone is ultimately grounded on the philosophical claim that fictional characters are actually existing entities, distinct from, and even colliding with, their creator(s). It is pointed out that this claim on the nature of fictional characters was seriously argued for, and put it into literary practice, by the Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno (1864–1936). (shrink)
Despite the increasing number of gamers worldwide, the moral classification of computer gaming marks an as yet unsolved riddle of philosophical ethics. In view of the explosive nature of the topic in everyday life (as seen in various debates about rampages), it is obvious that a differentiated professional clarification of the phenomenon is needed: Can playing computer games be immoral? -/- To answer this question, the author first discusses what we do at all when we play computer games: What kind (...) of action are we talking about? The second step is a moral classification that reveals whether (and if so, why) some cases of computer gaming are morally problematic. The considerations made here provide a fundamental insight into the normative dimension of computer gaming. -/- This book is a translation of the original German 1st edition Ethik des Computerspielens by Samuel Ulbricht, published by J.B. Metzler, an imprint of Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature in 2020. The translation was done with the help of artificial intelligence (machine translation by the service DeepL). A subsequent human revision was done primarily in terms of content with minor additions, so that the book will read stylistically differently from a conventional translation. Springer Nature works continuously to further the development of tools for the production of books and on the related technologies to support the authors. (shrink)
Many video games require complex, rapid sequences of skilled bodily movements in order to complete game-world tasks. It is not unreasonable to think that this might interfere with our ability to aesthetically appreciate such video games. I present two versions of this argument from extreme difficulty: a strong version and a weak version. While extant treatments of the aesthetics of video games can be used to rebut the strong version, the weak version remains recalcitrant. I develop a reply to the (...) weak version, use it to clarify key features of reasons used by video-game critics to argue in favor of their critical judgments, and to illuminate the development of video games over time. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to examine and defend videogame cognitivism (VC). According to VC, videogames can be a source of cognitive successes (such as true beliefs, knowledge or understanding) for their players. While the possibility of videogame-based learning has been an extensive topic of discussion in the last decades, the epistemological underpinnings of these debates often remain unclear. I propose that VC is a domain- specific brand of aesthetic cognitivism, which should be carefully distinguished from other views that (...) also insist on the cognitive or educational potential of videogames. After these clarifications, I discuss and assess different broad strategies to motivate VC: propositionalism, experientialism, and neocognitivism. These map the different ways in which videogames can prove epistemically valuable, showing them to be, respectively, sources of propositional knowledge, experiential knowledge, and understanding. I eventually argue that neocognitivism is a particularly promising and yet underexplored way to defend VC. (shrink)
Screen-based virtual worlds have been described as fundamentally disembodying. Contrary to this, the aim of this article is to provide a phenomenological analysis of bodily presence in one case of screen-based virtuality. By integrating phenomenology with qualitative research methodologies, I explore esports practitioners’ experiences of bodily presence in League of Legends (LoL). Here, descriptions from real-life esports practitioners are analyzed within the phenomenological framework of ‘incorporation’. My analysis shows that the practitioners’ experience and engage with their virtual world not just (...) by incorporating their physical gaming equipment, but also through incorporation of virtual abilities and tools specific to the game world. Having shown that the LoL practitioner’s body spans both physical and virtual space without leaving the body behind, I situate these results within the discussion of virtual presence in video games. I claim that the practitioners’ sense of presence can be accounted for by situating the integrated physical and virtual tools and abilities within the phenomenological framework of the ‘nullpoint’, understood as a bodily field of activity shaped by our incorporated skills and tools. (shrink)
Drawing from narratology and design studies, this article makes use of the notions of the ‘implied designer’ and ‘ludic unreliability’ to understand deceptive game design as a specific sub-set of transgressive game design. More specifically, in this text we present deceptive game design as the deliberate attempt to misguide players’ inferences about the designers’ intentions. Furthermore, we argue that deceptive design should not merely be taken as a set of design choices aimed at misleading players in their efforts to understand (...) the game, but also as decisions devised to give rise to experiential and emotional effects that are in the interest of players. Finally, we propose to introduce a distinction between two varieties of deceptive design approaches based on whether they operate in an overt or a covert fashion in relation to player experience. Our analysis casts light on expressive possibilities that are not customarily part of the dominant paradigm of user-centered design, and can inform game designers in their pursuit of wider and more nuanced creative aspirations. (shrink)
A relatively common approach in game studies understands gameworlds as constituting an existential situation for the player. Taking that stance, which is rooted in the European philosophical tradition of Existentialism, in this chapter we investigate the relationships and similarities between our existence within and without gameworlds. To do so, we first provide a review of existing literature in ‘existential ludology’ - work in game studies which considers our engagement with gameworlds from an existential perspective. In the second part of the (...) chapter, we then engage with some of the most notable ideas of the Norwegian philosopher Peter Wessel Zapffe. Zapffe understood human life as inherently meaningless and identified four ways in which human beings typically protect themselves from the existential panic that accompanies the awareness of that meaninglessness: isolation, anchoring, distraction, and sublimation. These four categories are used as the foundation for an examination of gameworlds as technologies for repressing existential panic. (shrink)
I respond to Martin Ricksand’s recommendation that my arguments that current, typical video games are not works for performance be replaced with an argument that no video game could possibly be a work for performance. I cast doubt both on Ricksand’s premise that all video games are games, and on his arguments that no game could be a work for performance.
This is a reply to commentators in the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport's special issue symposium on GAMES: AGENCY AS ART. I respond to criticisms concerning the value of achievement play and striving play, the transparency and opacity of play, the artistic status of games, and many more.
This is the first book to present an aesthetics of virtual reality media. It situates virtual reality media in terms of the philosophy of the arts, comparing them to more familiar media such as painting, film and photography. When philosophers have approached virtual reality, they have almost always done so through the lens of metaphysics, asking questions about the reality of virtual items and worlds, about the value of such things, and indeed, about how they may reshape our understanding of (...) the "real" world. Grant Tavinor finds that approach to be fundamentally mistaken, and that to really account for virtual reality, we must focus on the medium and its uses, and not the hypothetical and speculative instances that are typically the focus of earlier works. He also argues that much of the cultural and metaphysical hype around virtual reality is undeserved. But this does not mean that virtual reality is illusory or uninteresting; on the contrary, it is significant for the altogether different reason that it overturns much of our understanding of how representational media can function and what we can use them to achieve. The Aesthetics of Virtual Reality will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in aesthetics, philosophy of art, philosophy of technology, metaphysics, and game studies. (shrink)
Here, we focus on the underexplored fictional relevance of videogame glitches. For this purpose, we will make use philosophical theories on fiction, as well as standard suggestions about how best to deal with unintended errors within fiction. Focusing on glitches like that of Red Dead Redemption’s "manimals", we argue that glitches, more than any kinds of mistakes in traditional, non-interactive fictions, can actually have a significant influence on the fictional worlds of the work in which they appear. In particular, we (...) will show that some glitches generate new fictional content without this content being intended by a videogame’s creators, and will offer practical ways for dealing with the inconsistencies that inevitably accompany such glitch-generated fictions. (shrink)
Is it ever morally wrong to enjoy fantasizing about immoral things? Many video games allow players to commit numerous violent and immoral acts. But, should players worry about the morality of their virtual actions? A common argument is that games offer merely the virtual representation of violence. No one is actually harmed by committing a violent act in a game. So, it cannot be morally wrong to perform such acts. While this is an intuitive argument, it does not resolve the (...) issue. -/- Focusing on why individual players are motivated to entertain immoral and violent fantasies, Video Games, Violence, and the Ethics of Fantasy advances debates about the ethical criticism of art, not only by shining light on the interesting and under-examined case of virtual fantasies, but also by its novel application of a virtue ethical account. Video games are works of fiction that enable players to entertain a fantasy. So, a full understanding of the ethical criticism of video games must focus attention on why individual players are motivated to entertain immoral and violent fantasies. -/- Video Games, Violence, and the Ethics of Fantasy engages with debates and critical discussions of games in both the popular media and recent work in philosophy, psychology, media studies, and game studies. (shrink)
The 'Gamer's Dilemma' is the problem of why some actions occurring in video game contexts seem to have similar, albeit attenuated, kinds of moral significance to their real-world equivalents, while others do not. In this paper, I argue that much of the confusion in the literature on this problem is not ethical but metaphysical. The Gamer's Dilemma depends on a particular theory of the virtual, which I call 'inflationary', according to which virtual worlds are a metaphysical novelty generated almost exclusively (...) by video games. Actions performed in virtual worlds really belong to the kinds of action they appear to—'virtual murder' is a kind of murder. Inflationary theories are contrasted with 'deflationary' theories which, in effect, consider video games purely as systems for generating images, and thus the gamer as a consumer of media images. Inflationary theories struggle to explain why video games produce this unique metaphysical novelty; deflationary theories fail to do justice to the intuition that there is some significant difference between the gamer and the consumer of other media forms. In place of either, I sketch a theory of the gamer as performer, primarily by analogy with stage and cinema actors, which I suggest captures more of the moral complexity of the gamer's action. (shrink)
This paper considers the medium of videogames from a goodmanian standpoint. After some preliminary clarifications and definitions, I examine the ontological status of videogames. Against several existing accounts, I hold that what grounds their identity qua work types is code. The rest of the paper is dedicated to the epistemology of videogaming. Drawing on Nelson Goodman and Catherine Elgin's works, I suggest that the best model to defend videogame cognitivism appeals to the notion of understanding.
This book explores what it means to exist in virtual worlds. Chiefly drawing on the philosophical traditions of existentialism, it articulates the idea that — by means of our technical equipment and coordinated practices — human beings disclose contexts or worlds in which they can perceive, feel, act, and think. More specifically, this book discusses how virtual worlds allow human beings to take new perspectives on their values and beliefs, and explore previously unexperienced ways of being. Virtual Existentialism will be (...) useful for scholars working in the fields of philosophy, anthropology, media studies, and digital game studies. (shrink)
In this paper, I raise several concerns for what I call the willing endorsement view of moral responsibility in videogames. Briefly, the willing endorsement view holds that players are appropriate targets of moral judgments when their actions reflect their true, real-world selves. In the first section of the paper, I argue that core features of the willing endorsement view are widely implicitly accepted among philosophers engaging in discussions of morality in games. I then focus on a particularly clear recent version (...) of the view defended by Christopher Bartel. In the second and third sections, I raise several worries for Bartel’s version of the willing endorsement view. In the fourth section, I argue that these worries are not unique to Bartel’s view, but instead result from the view of identity implicit in the willing endorsement view. I conclude by suggesting a path forward by rejecting this view of identity. (shrink)
Games occupy a unique and valuable place in our lives. Game designers do not simply create worlds; they design temporary selves. Game designers set what our motivations are in the game and what our abilities will be. Thus: games are the art form of agency. By working in the artistic medium of agency, games can offer a distinctive aesthetic value. They support aesthetic experiences of deciding and doing. -/- And the fact that we play games shows something remarkable about us. (...) Our agency is more fluid than we might have thought. In playing a game, we take on temporary ends; we submerge ourselves temporarily in an alternate agency. Games turn out to be a vessel for communicating different modes of agency, for writing them down and storing them. Games create an archive of agencies. And playing games is how we familiarize ourselves with different modes of agency, which helps us develop our capacity to fluidly change our own style of agency. (shrink)
Garry Young has made three objections against Sebastian Ostritsch’s endorsement view on the immorality of computer games. In this paper, we want to defend the endorsement view against all three of them.
In the paper, laid out are the categories of the presence of the philosophical dimension of narrative content in video games, to establish a ground for more thorough thinking of practical and historical relation of philosophy and video games. In the introductory, described is the appearance of the philosophical dimension of the narrative content in the fifth generation of video games, and the importance of that happening is highlighted. The central part of the paper describes the categories of the presence, (...) differentiating among video games that use its narrative content to focus attention to issues of philosophical nature, video games that have content within which they philosophise in layman terms about philosophical problems, and videogames that apply professional philosophy to construct narrative content. Conclusively, the paper briefly discusses the issue of the category of games as complete philosophical works, understood in such a way that by removing their philosophical dimension both their narrative content and playing mechanisms would collapse and they would fully lose their meaning. (shrink)
This paper explores the emotional relationship between game experience and real experience in That Dragon, Cancer (Numinous Games 2016), a video game about Joel, a 4-year child, and his fight against cancer. The approach of this paper combines game studies and philosophy. The first part introduces the procedural rhetoric of this video game, to understand how the game can influence reality through its game mechanics. Then, the paper presents some of these game elements: the effects of video game language, the (...) universalization of the experience through visual and spatial design choices, and the question of time. The aim is to discuss the game’s effectiveness in the production of a possible change in real life, on a psychological, political and relational level. (shrink)
What do players of videogames mean when they say they want to shoot zombies? Surely they know that the zombies are not real, and that they cannot really shoot them, but only control a fictional character who does so. Some philosophers of fiction argue that we need the concept of imaginative desires to explain situations in which people feel desires towards fictional characters or desires that motivate pretend actions. Others claim that we can explain these situations without complicating human psychology (...) with a novel mental state. Within their debates, however, these scholars exclusively focus on non-interactive fictions and children’s games of make-believe. In this paper, I argue that our experience of immersive, interactive fictions like videogames gives us cause to reappraise the concept of imaginative desires. Moreover, I describe how i-desires are a useful conceptual tool within videogame development and can shed new light on apparently immoral in-game actions. (shrink)
Players of videogames describe their gameplay in the first person, e.g. “I took cover behind a barricade.” Such descriptions of gameplay experiences are commonplace, but also puzzling because players are actually just pushing buttons, not engaging in the activities described by their first-person reports. According to a view defended by Robson and Meskin (2016), which we call the fictional identity view, this puzzle is solved by claiming that the player is fictionally identical with the player character. Hence, on this view, (...) if the player-character fictionally performs an action then, fictionally, the player performs that action. However, we argue that the fictional identity view does not make sense of players' gameplay experiences and their descriptions of them. We develop an alternative account of the relationship between the player and player-character on which the player-character serves as the player's fictional proxy, and argue that this account makes better sense of the nature of videogames as interactive fictions. (shrink)
Jon Robson and Aaron Meskin have argued that the insights obtained through the philosophical analysis of video games is not specific to video games, but to a larger class of artistic creations they term Self-Involving Interactive Fictions, or SIIFs. But there is at least one aspect of SIIF video games that is philosophically interesting and does not apply to the class of SIIFs as a whole, the ability to represent non-classical time. If SIIF video games are considered to be an (...) extension of the art form of graphic narrative story-telling, the art form dominated by film, then the ability to represent time in in this fashion represents a revolution akin to that of vanishing point perspective in painting. This makes SIIF video games philosophically interesting for both philosophers of film and philosophers of video games. (shrink)
A common understanding of the role of a game developer includes establishing (or at least partially establishing) what is interactively and perceptually available in (video)game environments: what elements and behaviors those worlds include and allow, and what is – instead – left out of their ‘possibility horizon’. The term ‘possibility horizon’ references the Ancient Greek origin of the term ‘horizon’, ὄρος (oros), which denotes a frontier – a spatial limit. On this etymological foundation, ‘horizon’ is used here to indicate the (...) spatial and operational boundaries that a (video)game environment affords its players. This book chapter discusses a particular feeling that emerge in relation to playful encounters with the ‘possibility horizons’ of videogames. I am referring here to the realization, as a player, that a game environment can be experientially exhausted and is, as such, ultimately banal. In other words, I will examine how our deliberate engagement with the interactive environments of digital games can trigger sensations that are analogous to what Romantic authors referred to as Weltschmerz (‘world-weariness’). (shrink)
Video games are a specific kind of virtual world which many engage with on a daily basis; as such, we cannot ignore the values they embody. In this paper I argue that it is possible to cause moral harm or benefit within a video game, specifically by drawing attention to the nature of the choices both players and designers make. I discuss ways in which games attempt to represent morality, arguing that while flawed, even games with seemingly superficial devices such (...) as morality meters can attempt to promote moral reflection. Ultimately, I argue that the moral status of the actions depends on the effects of those actions on the player herself; if those actions make us less ethical then the actions are wrong. Unfortunately, it is not clear to me that players are always in a position to tell whether this is the case. (shrink)
Are games essentially a form of make-believe, or essentially an act of struggling against obstacles? There have been several attempts to reduce one of these accounts to the other. Kendall Walton has argued for the primacy of the make-believe account of games. Even when we are struggling against obstacles in games, says Walton, we are engaged in a form of make-believe: we are making believe that these lines are real obstacles, that these points really matter. Bernard Suits has argued for (...) the primacy of the account of games as struggling against obstacles. Even when we are making believe in games, says Suits, we are still engaged in act act of struggling against obstacles. Usually we are struggling to keep the narrative going. I argue that Walton's and Suits' reductive attempts are both wrong: that there are two distinct activities, of making-believe and struggling against obstacles, neither of which is wholly reducible to a subset of the other. Importantly, in many games we are engaged in both making-believe and struggling against obstacles. But there are some games that are pure struggle with no make-believe (like games of real survival in the real wilderness). And there are games of pure make-believe, in which there are no obstacles or struggle. (shrink)
Games may seem like a waste of time, where we struggle under artificial rules for arbitrary goals. The author suggests that the rules and goals of games are not arbitrary at all. They are a way of specifying particular modes of agency. This is what make games a distinctive art form. Game designers designate goals and abilities for the player; they shape the agential skeleton which the player will inhabit during the game. Game designers work in the medium of agency. (...) Game-playing, then, illuminates a distinctive human capacity. We can take on ends temporarily for the sake of the experience of pursuing them. Game play shows that our agency is significantly more modular and more fluid than we might have thought. It also demonstrates our capacity to take on an inverted motivational structure. Sometimes we can take on an end for the sake of the activity of pursuing that end. (shrink)
This chapter explores a range of significant similarities and differences between videogames and films. It also examines the relationship between the philosophies of each. We begin by addressing the definition of videogames and the question of whether they count as a subcategory of some other artistic kind, namely, film or the moving image. We then turn to the debate about the art status of videogames and compare this to the debate concerning the art status of films. We go on to (...) explore the nature of interactivity in videogames and ask whether videogame interactivity differs from the kind of interactivity that one can find in other artistic domains. We conclude by exploring various ethical issues relating to videogames and, again, compare these to related issues which arise with respect to film. (shrink)