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Ethics as viewed from Computer Games

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A long presentation that looks upon ethics, from the viewpoint of computer games

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  • This presentation is a 'trigger'. See also the 'Lecture paper' based on this presentation:
    http://www.scribd.com/full/46155982?access_key=key-1mekgrhp8fu95sontorp
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Ethics as viewed from Computer Games

  1. 1. A presentation on Ethics as seen from Computer Games Per A. Godejord Associate professor Department of Computer Science Nesna University College
  2. 2. Two perspectives Child Perspective Adult Perspective Egocentrical perspective Critical perspective
  3. 3. Ethical theories and value systems <ul><li>Utilitarian point of view : I will not “pirate” software, because it might put programmers out of work </li></ul><ul><li>Kantian point of view : I will not “pirate” software, because that is stealing, and stealing is wrong </li></ul>
  4. 4. The killing fields of computer games <ul><li>“ Killing games” </li></ul><ul><li>Fair games Unfair games Ghost Recon Postal Rule of Engagement/ No rules Code of conduct </li></ul><ul><li>SWAT 4 Manhunt </li></ul>
  5. 5. And the verdict is… <ul><li>Utilitarian: Its wrong to kill people </li></ul><ul><li>Kantian: Its illegal to kill people </li></ul><ul><li>Both “fair” and “unfair” games are equally unethical </li></ul><ul><li>if we base our verdict on the fact that we have to kill in order to achieve the games objectives </li></ul>
  6. 6. And War Games? <ul><li>In war it is allowed to kill people – that is; soldiers. Non-combatants is off limits, as often shown in military shooters like Ghost Recon 1 (Civilian casualty ends the game) </li></ul><ul><li>So that makes it’s a bit less unethical if viewed from an Kantian? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Some more theories <ul><li>Normative ethics: - Virtue theories - Duty theories - Consequentialist theories </li></ul>
  8. 8. Virtue theories <ul><li>Good habits of character: * Virtues : wisdom, courage, temperance, justice, fortitude, generosity, self-respect, good temper, sincerity * Vices : cowardice, insensibility, injustice, vanity </li></ul>
  9. 9. Duty theories <ul><li>Morality is based on principles of obligation </li></ul><ul><li>Some absolute duties: - Avoid wronging others - Treat people as equals - Promote the good of other </li></ul><ul><li>Right theory: Other persons right not to be harmed by you </li></ul><ul><li>Kant`s categorical imperative: Treat people as an end, and never as a means to an end </li></ul>
  10. 10. Consequentialist theories <ul><li>An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable </li></ul><ul><li>So if the good consequences are greater, then the action is considered morally proper. If the bad consequences are greater, then the action is morally improper </li></ul>
  11. 11. So what? <ul><li>Let us have a quick look at two games; one “unfair” and one “fair”: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>GTA 3 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ghost Recon </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. GTA 3 <ul><li>The Hooker Cheat </li></ul><ul><li>The action: Pick up a prostitute, have sex to gain extra health, then kill her when you are finished and steal her money, so as not to have financial loss. </li></ul><ul><li>Let us have a look on the theories again </li></ul>
  13. 13. The Hooker Cheat as our point of evaluation <ul><li>Virtue: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is difficult to argue that there are any good virtues in this specific behaviour </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The behaviour might be viewed as both cowardice, unjust and insensible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In the game it is a logical thing to do if you want to win, and you may do it as often as you want to </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. The Hooker Cheat as our point of evaluation, continued <ul><li>Duty: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In this case your action is wronging the prostitute </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You certainly do not treat her as an equal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No promotion of her good </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You violate her rights not to be harmed by you </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You treat her as a means to an end; i.e. to win the game </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. The Hooker Cheat as our point of evaluation, continued <ul><li>Consequence: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The consequences of the action is favorable to you, but very unfavorable to the prostitute </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Let`s pause here for a moment… </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Consequentialism revisited <ul><li>Three ways of looking at this </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethical Egoism: It is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable only to you. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethical Altruism: It is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone except you. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Utilitarianism: It is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone. </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. The Hooker Cheat as our point of evaluation, continued <ul><li>Egoistically speaking the action involved in the Hooker Cheat is ok (it enables you to win the game), but naturally not if viewed in the light of altruism or utilitarianism </li></ul><ul><li>So, what do YOU think? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Ghost Recon <ul><li>In this game there is no specific “cheat” as in GTA 3. </li></ul><ul><li>In the Ghost Recon 1 series civilians where milling about, and any killing of them ended the game </li></ul><ul><li>In the later series, like Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (GR3), there are no civilians at all </li></ul><ul><li>Let`s have a look at that </li></ul>
  19. 19. The lack of civilians <ul><li>Ghost Recon was claimed, at least originally, to be aiming towards training soldiers </li></ul><ul><li>In GR3 you are involved in urban warfare, something that means that you, in RL, are “surrounded” by civilians </li></ul><ul><li>So is it ethical to portray this sort of warfare as free of civilians and all that it pertains as for decision making and quick reactions? </li></ul><ul><li> Think about it! </li></ul>
  20. 20. Killing the enemy – a simple view <ul><li>Virtue: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your actions in the game might both be courageous (attacking an equal strong enemy in frontal assault) or cowardice (sniping them from behind and from distance) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They might also be a sign of insensibility (no feelings for your opponent) </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Killing the enemy – a simple view, continued <ul><li>Duty: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your action is wronging your opponents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No promotion of their good </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You treat them as a means to an end; i.e. to win the game </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Killing the enemy – a simple view, continued <ul><li>Consequence: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The consequences of the action is favorable to you, but very unfavorable to your opponents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Go back to Consequentialism </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Killing the enemy – a slightly more complicated view <ul><li>The ethics of war: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jus ad bellum – When it`s justified to go to war </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jus in bello – Acceptable conduct in war </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Just post bellum – Actions within the termination of war </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Let`s keep our focus on the actions, i.e what you do in the game… </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Jus in bellom <ul><li>You may attack any military objective </li></ul><ul><li>The action must have the defeat of the enemy as the intention </li></ul><ul><li>You are to have your weapons visible </li></ul><ul><li>You have some limitation as to what weapons are allowed against personnel </li></ul><ul><li>Aha! Weapons! </li></ul>
  25. 25. Jus in bellom, continued <ul><li>In both GR1 and GR3 you have the possibility of using the .50 cal. Sniper rifle. </li></ul><ul><li>The International Red Cross want to have the use of this rifle against personnel banned, because of its power and the “explosiveness” of the projectile </li></ul><ul><li>The Norwegian Government have instructed that the use of the rifle shall be strictly anti-material capacity only </li></ul><ul><li>The US Government view the rifle as usable against all targets </li></ul>
  26. 26. Jus bellom, continued <ul><li>No chance of surviving a hit by a 50 cal </li></ul><ul><li>Is it fair to kill your opponent from 1500 to 2000 meters? </li></ul><ul><li>To use this gun against persons is ok from the US point of view, not ok from other points of view. In the game, it`s YOUR choice… </li></ul>
  27. 27. Another view on the killing <ul><li>Is military first person shooters training our kids to kill? </li></ul><ul><li>And if so, is that ethical? </li></ul><ul><li> What do YOU think? </li></ul>
  28. 28. A conclusion? <ul><li>All actions that involve killing and maiming others are unethical </li></ul><ul><li>So computer games that include such actions, might be said to be unethical </li></ul><ul><li>The spreading of such games to kids might be unethical; i.e. it might desensitise them, make them more aggressive and violent, and so on. </li></ul>
  29. 29. ? <ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What do YOU think? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  30. 30. A task for you <ul><li>Play Ghost Recon, Full Spectrum Warrior, Counter-Strike or some other similar tactical shooter game. </li></ul><ul><li>Read the Geneva Conventions and have a look at DoD Directive 5500.7, &quot;Standards of Conduct&quot; (pdf), or the book &quot; Military Ethics &quot; (In Norwegian) . </li></ul><ul><li>Write a short essay discussing if any of the values and rules that you read in the Geneva Conventions, in the DoD Directive and in the book are implemented in the tactical shooter games you have tried. Is it possible to play these games efficiently, and win, and at the same time follow ethical rules? </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>There are no facts, only interpretations - Friedrich Nietzsche </li></ul>

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