With violent video games being such an important part of society today, there have been debates raging over whether virtual murder should be permissible. This debate is especially interesting given the focus of society on things like virtual pedophilia. As Luck writes in “The Gamer’s Dilemma,” there is a difference in treatment between virtual murder and virtual pedophilia, which is strange given that neither thing causes actual harm to any person and there are many differences between the two. While the question does have some plausible objections, virtual murder should be permissible because it does not lead to any real harm, and the market of something’s impermissibility should be its tendency to cause harm.
The most important premise in this argument is the idea that virtual murder does not bring any real harm to people. Virtual murder, of course, only takes place on a screen, and no human beings are hurt as virtual murder takes place. There is no evidence either that people who commit virtual murder on a video game are more likely than others in society to later go out and commit a real murder as a result.
Some argue that virtual murder should be disallowed because it causes a de-sensitization to the loss of life. While this may be true, it should be noted that death and destruction are natural products of life. All people die, and in the US, people often die in ways that are tragic or violent. The default setting in society is de-sensitization. Society has simply created a means by which some people can be sheltered from this reality. While it does make sense to be concerned about the ways in which society values life, the act of virtual murder on a television screen no more debases life than any number of movies and television shows, or even the reality of life played on the news. Virtual murder should be permissible in light of these things.
- Luck, Morgan. “The gamer’s dilemma: An analysis of the arguments for the moral distinction between virtual murder and virtual paedophilia.” Ethics and Information Technology 11, no. 1 (2009): 31-36.