Throughout the 20th century, society was fascinated with the moral responsibilities of people who participated in outlandish games and arts such as music, dance and popular theater. In many ways, these forms of entertainment were seen to negatively impact the moral responsibilities of younger generations. This has since followed on to music, film and television in general (Sicart, 5). In the 21st century, the majority of issues concerning moral responsibility stem largely from the playing of and exposure to video games. Higher crime rates and immoral decisions that people make in society are now linked to their own interests and also their exposure to video games and television. As such, this paper will argue that the moral responsibilities that people make in video games can not be linked to the moral responsibilities that they make in real life as a result of a number of highly influential factors.
Furthermore, it will attempt to explain the many differences between how life is represented in video games and how it actually is without any exposures to games or television. In doing so, it will focus on three main points to support this main thesis including the following: 1) Realism in games and whether they can be compared to real life, 2) Many video games are instructional in nature and 3) Moral responsibilities also rely on education and exposure to social norms instead of video games. One dominating factor of video games in the 21st century is how realistic they have become and how they are able to represent the challenges and opportunities that are faced in real life. This draws out some concern for more violent games, which may convince the player to also simulate this activity and decisions in real life (Sicart, 10). There may be a likelihood that some people might simulate game play in real life however the majority of games played by individuals involve a surreal scenario or often require the player to make ethical decisions.
Games also have a rating requirement similar to film and television and this allows game suppliers to restrict exposure to more violent games where younger children might become influenced. For example, the probability of moral choices in games reflecting moral choices made in real life is dependent on the realism factor of the particular game (Bartel, 2). If an individual is playing a cartoon character in a game, then the decisions the character makes can not be linked to the decisions made by the individual in real life, whereas if the individual was playing a human being in the game, then some links can be made. This also poses the question of whether television and film should be more heavily criticized when considering that they often display the same nature of violence and human interaction that video games do. The only difference between the two is that the individual has a greater sense of control over what happens (Bartel, 5).
Secondly, many video games are purposely designed to be instructional in nature and this is communicated to the customer well before they purchase the particular game. For example, sports games do not require the individual to make well-informed moral decisions but rather teach some necessary skills that they might be able to use in real life. For example, in a simulated flight game, the individual might learn which dials need to be used to successfully allow the aircraft to take off but moral responsibilities are not incorporated into the game. This example can further be used to argue that the majority of games played by individuals are for the purpose of entertainment much like film and television. The fact that a game might be realistic in its nature and how the individual is able to fly an aircraft or play golf does not necessarily mean that it involves the individual making a number of moral decisions or having significant moral responsibility (Sicart, 11). Furthermore, some games might be designed purely for instructional use and stipulate clearly to the user that they do not involve any moral responsibility.
There are also a number of issues associated with video games and moral responsibility when people consider that other social norms might be influencing the current generation. It seems that video games are assumed to be the cause of violence and immoral decisions being made simply because they display violence with no links being made. Society is forgetting that there are a variety of other factors, which might be influencing moral decisions such as education, brands and retailers who are providing younger adults with a more violent and superficial culture (Kilhefner, Para 3). There are a variety of different social factors that can be used to explain why society might be more violent or immoral in the 21st century. For example, a dependence on technological advancements does not necessarily mean that video games are any cause for negative behavior or activity. In fact video games could be explained as another way that people can seek entertainment and can be classified as one aspect of escapism in society rather than people trying to embrace different styles of decision making and behaviors in general.
In conclusion, these three points have provided a comprehensive argument for why moral responsibilities made by people in society can not be intrinsically and comprehensively linked to decisions made in video games. There are no links between these two behaviors and video games are becoming another way that people can try and define certain negative behaviors instead of looking at a much broader scope with respect the positive and negative consequences of social behavior in general. Many people might argue that video games convey extensive violence and with sufficient exposure, a child (who might be developing in maturity quicker then a young adult) might develop negative and violent behaviors. This paper has disproved this by focusing on the differences between the reality of video games and real life and how there are a variety of other reasons for why people might be making more immoral decisions in the 21st century then before.
- Bartel, Christopher. Free Will and moral responsibility in video games, Cross Mark,
2015, Article, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10676-015-9383-8#/page-1 (16th April, 2016).
- Kilhefner, Johnny. Ethics in Game Design. The Chron, 2016, Web,
http://work.chron.com/ethics-game-design-22838.html (16th April, 2016).
- Sicart, Miguel. The Ethics in Computer Games. MIT Press, 2012, Article,
https://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/content/9780262012652_sch_0001.pdf (16th April, 2016).