GDC: Ethics in Games and Game Development

March 1, 2011 -

Speaking to Develop (and giving a speech at GDC this week), Miguel Sicart, associate professor of Computer Games Research at the IT University of Copenhagen, laid out guidelines for ethics in game development. Issues such as crunch time, digital rights management, and data-mining are ethical issues that need to be explored and addressed 'on a moral basis.' Sicart points out that data mining is an issue that is "extremely interesting from an ethical perspective."

"We agree to let companies take data from us and profile us, and I think that’s a fantastic tool for developers," says Sicart. "But data mining raises moral concerns. The main problematic question is what happens to our data."

"I don’t know what Steam is doing with my data, I, like millions of others, haven’t spent time reading through all the licence agreements," he adds. "The duty is on the developer to be clear and transparent about what they are doing with such information."

He also said the treatment of gamers was another serious ethical issue, as it relates to tools such as DRM-locks:

"Any game is not only an entertainment product, but an implicit contract between the developer and player. Every future game developer should know how they are going to relate to these people, these human beings, and not just see them as customers."

He also mentions briefly that some games force players to engage in acts that would be deemed unlawful or wrong in the real world:

"Players thus create values in games," he said. "Developers should think about what the good values can be transmitted to players. The defining moral principal of life is to be the nicest, best person you can be."

But one of the most important things that could come out of having a code of ethics is a change in crunch time policies:

"The key moral issues in game development are workplace ethics; crunch and team management. Those are very problematic issues in game development that affects a lot of people. A lot of game developers eventually get married and work in other, less demanding industries."

"If you look at most software development practices, the issue of overtime is considered either in a professional code, or day-to-day workplace ethics," he said. "I’m not saying the conclusion to this issue is no crunch at all, but crunch has ethical implications. It harms people and therefore it harms the profession. Crunch may or may not have a negative impact on the quality of a game, but it affects developers’ mental health, family life and social relations. You have a burn rate in game development, and that’s a long-term issue."

Source: Develop


Comments

Re: GDC: Ethics in Games and Game Development

On an unrelated note, good thing you got that double post of this story fixed :P.

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There are only 10 types of people in this world, people who know binary and people who don't.

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There are only 10 types of people in this world, people who know binary and people who don't.

Re: GDC: Ethics in Games and Game Development

Beyond ethical issues.. crunch time has significant 'long term' issues.  It gives you a short term gain, but it burns people out and causes a lot of talented developers to leave the industry early, resulting in most people being young and inexperienced, with all the software development life-cycle costs THAT incurs.

Re: GDC: Ethics in Games and Game Development

If none of that means anything to the consumer, consider this: thaose burned out people leaving, forcing the industry to hire inexperienced replacements, THAT is responsible not only for the porr quality of releases that require severe patching day one (Red Alert 3 and Fallout New Vegas for example), but also the lack of creativity coming from major publications lately.

 
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Matthew Wilsonyes it help a sub section of the poor, but hurt both the middle and upper class. in the end way more people were hurt than helped. also, it hurt most poor people as well.04/16/2014 - 12:13am
SeanBJust goes to show what I have said for years. Your ability to have sex does not qualify you for parenthood.04/15/2014 - 9:21pm
NeenekoSo "worked" vs "failed" really comes down to who you think is more important and deserving04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoThough I am also not sure we can say NYC failed. Rent control helped the people it was intended for and is considered a failure by the people it was designed to protect them from.04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoIf they change the rules, demand will plummet. Though yeah, rent control probably would not help much in the SF case. I doubt anything will.04/15/2014 - 1:35pm
TheSmokeyOnline gamer accused of murdering son to keep playing - http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2014/04/15/21604921.html04/15/2014 - 11:50am
Matthew Wilsonyup, but curent city rules do not allow for that.04/15/2014 - 11:00am
ZippyDSMleeIf SF dose not start building upwards then they will price people out of the aera.04/15/2014 - 10:59am
Matthew Wilsonthe issue rent control has it reduces supply, and in SF case they already has a supply problem. rent control ofen puts rent below cost, or below profit of selling it. rent control would not fix this issue.04/15/2014 - 10:56am
NeenekoRent control is useful in moderation, NYC took it way to far and tends to be held up as an example of them not working, but in most cases they are more subtle and positive.04/15/2014 - 10:24am
PHX CorpBeating Cancer with Video Games http://mashable.com/2014/04/14/steven-gonzalez-survivor-games/04/15/2014 - 9:21am
Matthew Wilsonwhat are you saying SF should do rent control, that has never worked every time it has been tried. the issue here is a self inflicted supply problem imposed by stupid laws.04/15/2014 - 8:52am
E. Zachary KnightNeeneko, Government created price controls don't work though. They may keep prices down for the current inhabitants, but they are the primary cause of recently vacated residences having astronomical costs. Look at New York City as a prime example.04/15/2014 - 8:50am
NeenekoI think free markets are important, but believe in balance. Too much of any force and things get unstable.04/15/2014 - 7:25am
NeenekoWell, the traditional way of keeping prices down is what they are doing, controls on lease termination and tax code, but it will not be enough in this case.04/15/2014 - 7:24am
Matthew WilsonI said that already04/14/2014 - 4:22pm
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, The could also lower prices by increasing supply. Allow high rise apartment buildings to be built to fulfill demand and prices will drop.04/14/2014 - 3:48pm
Matthew Wilsonthe only way they could keep the price's down, would be to kick out google, apple, amazon, and other tech companies, but that would do a ton of economic damage to SF, but I am a major proponent of free markets04/14/2014 - 2:54pm
NeenekoThe community people are seeking gets destroyed in the process, and the new people are not able to build on themselves. Generally these situations result in local cultural death in a decade or so, and no one wins.04/14/2014 - 2:09pm
NeenekoWell yes, that is the 'free market', but the market is only a small piece of a much larger system. The market does not always do the constructive thing.04/14/2014 - 2:06pm
 

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