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Dr Malcolm Ryan, Dr Paul Formosa, Dr Dan Staines
GCAP Conference, 2020
Four lenses for designing morally
engaging games
Le...
Who are we?
Dr Malcolm Ryan
Who are we?
Dr Paul Formosa
Who are we?
Dr Dan Staines
Our games
Paparazzi (2019)
Our games
The Road (2016)
Our games
The Great Fire (2019)
Our games
CyberCorp [working title]
(in development)
Our research
Formosa, P., Ryan, M., & Staines, D. (2016). Papers, Please and the systemic approach to
engaging ethical exp...
Ethics in games
Ethics in game production
Ethics in play
• Player / Player
• Player / Game
Hedonic vs Eudaimonic pleasure
A tale of two zombie shooters
Left 4 Dead
Valve
The Walking Dead
Telltale Games
Four component model
James Rest (1983)
Four broad categories of cognitive/affective capabilities:
1. Moral Focus
2. Moral ...
Components as Lenses
“Good game design happens when you view your
game from as many perspectives as possible. I refer
to t...
The Lens of Moral Judgment
How does the player choose what to do?
Design challenges:
• Temptations vs Dilemmas
• Ethical c...
The Lens of Moral Judgment
How does the player choose what to do?
Questions to Consider:
• What kind of moral choices are ...
The Lens of Moral Action
How does the player put their choices into effect?
Design challenges:
• Choosing vs Doing
• Dange...
The Lens of Moral Action
How does the player put their choices into effect?
Questions to Consider:
• Is a moral problem so...
The Lens of Moral Focus
Why is morality a priority to the player?
Design challenges:
• Reactive vs Reflective play
• Give ...
The Lens of Moral Focus
Why is morality a priority to the player?
Questions to Consider:
• What motivates the player to tr...
The Lens of Moral Sensitivity
How does the player recognise moral significance?
Design challenges:
• Subtlety vs Signposti...
The Lens of Moral Sensitivity
How does the player recognise moral significance?
Questions to Consider:
• How is moral cont...
To go further
Links to further readings
https://moralityplay.org/
Contact details
Dr Malcolm Ryan
malcolm.ryan@mq.edu.au
Dr Paul Formosa
paul.formosa@mq.edu.au
Dr Dan Staines
dan@danstaine...
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Four lenses for designing morally engaging games

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Presentation at GCAP 2020
Dr Malcolm Ryan, Dr Paul Formosa, Dr Dan Staines

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Four lenses for designing morally engaging games

  1. 1. Dr Malcolm Ryan, Dr Paul Formosa, Dr Dan Staines GCAP Conference, 2020 Four lenses for designing morally engaging games Lessons from moral psychology
  2. 2. Who are we? Dr Malcolm Ryan
  3. 3. Who are we? Dr Paul Formosa
  4. 4. Who are we? Dr Dan Staines
  5. 5. Our games Paparazzi (2019)
  6. 6. Our games The Road (2016)
  7. 7. Our games The Great Fire (2019)
  8. 8. Our games CyberCorp [working title] (in development)
  9. 9. Our research Formosa, P., Ryan, M., & Staines, D. (2016). Papers, Please and the systemic approach to engaging ethical expertise in videogames. Ethics and Information Technology, 18(3), 211- 225. Ryan, M., Staines, D., & Formosa, P. (2017). Focus, sensitivity, judgement, action: Four lenses for designing morally engaging games. Transactions of DiGRA 2 (3), 143-173. Staines, D., Consalvo, M., Stangeby, A., & Pedraça, S. (2019). State of play: Video games and moral engagement. Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, 11(3), 271-288. Staines, D., Formosa, P., & Ryan, M. (2019). Morality play: A model for developing games of moral expertise. Games and Culture, 14(4), 410-429.
  10. 10. Ethics in games Ethics in game production Ethics in play • Player / Player • Player / Game
  11. 11. Hedonic vs Eudaimonic pleasure A tale of two zombie shooters Left 4 Dead Valve The Walking Dead Telltale Games
  12. 12. Four component model James Rest (1983) Four broad categories of cognitive/affective capabilities: 1. Moral Focus 2. Moral Sensitivity 3. Moral Judgement 4. Moral Action
  13. 13. Components as Lenses “Good game design happens when you view your game from as many perspectives as possible. I refer to these perspectives as lenses, because each one is a way of viewing your design.” Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses (2015)
  14. 14. The Lens of Moral Judgment How does the player choose what to do? Design challenges: • Temptations vs Dilemmas • Ethical continuity • Aggregation of choices Fallout 3 Bethesda Softworks
  15. 15. The Lens of Moral Judgment How does the player choose what to do? Questions to Consider: • What kind of moral choices are you asking the player to make? Are they temptations or dilemmas? • What codes and ethical norms can players rely on to help them make moral judgements? Do they ever conflict? • How is the process of making a moral judgement represented? • How difficult to understand and resolve are the moral dilemmas the player encounters?
  16. 16. The Lens of Moral Action How does the player put their choices into effect? Design challenges: • Choosing vs Doing • Danger, resolve, bravery • Social skills, leadership, empathy Undertale Toby Fox
  17. 17. The Lens of Moral Action How does the player put their choices into effect? Questions to Consider: • Is a moral problem solved once a choice is made, or does the player have to put it into action? • How difficult is it for the player to achieve what they want? • What skills are needed to do the job? • Does moral action require persistence? Is it costly? • Is there opportunity for the player to back out of their choice?
  18. 18. The Lens of Moral Focus Why is morality a priority to the player? Design challenges: • Reactive vs Reflective play • Give the player a morally identity • Humanising characters • Providing feedback to invite reflection • Morality meters • NPC response Darkest Dungeon Red Hook Studios
  19. 19. The Lens of Moral Focus Why is morality a priority to the player? Questions to Consider: • What motivates the player to treat moral decisions as moral decisions, and not instrumentally? • Are players encouraged to role-play a moral identity? • Are players given opportunities to reflect on their behaviour? • How are the consequences of moral choices represented? • What do they say about the importance of morality in the game world?
  20. 20. The Lens of Moral Sensitivity How does the player recognise moral significance? Design challenges: • Subtlety vs Signposting • Scripting vs Systems • Engaging empathy Firewatch Campo Santo
  21. 21. The Lens of Moral Sensitivity How does the player recognise moral significance? Questions to Consider: • How is moral content presented to the player? • How can the player express their moral agency? • How are NPCs presented? Do they have personalities and perspectives with which the player can empathise? • Are there elements in the game that might cue the player to dehumanise other characters?
  22. 22. To go further Links to further readings https://moralityplay.org/
  23. 23. Contact details Dr Malcolm Ryan malcolm.ryan@mq.edu.au Dr Paul Formosa paul.formosa@mq.edu.au Dr Dan Staines dan@danstaines.com

Presentation at GCAP 2020 Dr Malcolm Ryan, Dr Paul Formosa, Dr Dan Staines

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