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.

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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ZippyDSMleeI dunno I'd go to see it, seems liek dumb fun, better than half assed serious stuff that has so many holes large enough to drive mac trucks through(coughinterstellercouch).07/30/2015 - 10:58am
Andrew EisenGoth - Wait, you went to see Pixels just to spite Chipman?07/30/2015 - 10:49am
MechaCrashYou can see Pixels, which requires you to be a moron to enjoy it, or you can actually spend that time and money watching something actually good. Gosh, what a choice.07/30/2015 - 10:49am
benohawkHot damn, I'm sold. Why see something you can enjoy on multiple levels when you can nap through half the film and still get it all?07/30/2015 - 10:17am
james_fudgeSo what people are saying is PIXELS is a great movie to see if your are comatose.07/30/2015 - 9:47am
ZippyDSMleePixels is something to shut your brain off with and just try and enjoy. The rest of films not so much. LOL07/30/2015 - 8:49am
MechaTama31Child of Light looks interesting, but not "I'm willing to put Uplay on my PC" interesting.07/30/2015 - 7:51am
MattsworknameOn the subject of movies and video games, if you haven't seen it and your a street fighter fan, run down a copy fo Street fighter assassins fist. Its the best video game movie made, and its by a small studio07/30/2015 - 5:37am
Goth_SkunkSee, i didn't enjoy the Transformers films, but I don't really know why. I watched them for the sake of watching them, but I doubt I'd ever have a craving to watch them again. With Pixels, I would.07/30/2015 - 5:12am
Sora-ChanOn topics of movies in general: I usually find the argument of "shut down your brain and enjoy the movie" argument to be annoying. It was something that I was told to do when it came to the transformer movies from Bay, and it irked me when people said it.07/30/2015 - 5:03am
Goth_SkunkI did. And I didn't care much for it, but it was the reason I went and saw the film. The entire thing can be summed up in one sentence: "I didn't like it! If you pay to watch this movie, you're a big smelly poopy-head!"07/30/2015 - 4:56am
MattsworknameI think everyone here has Crono, we just don't agree with him or how he handles himself or his reviews, but thats us07/30/2015 - 4:55am
CronosonicThere are far worse problems Moviebob pointed out about Pixels than it not being 'serious'. Did you even /watch/ his review?07/30/2015 - 4:35am
MattsworknameAlso, newbusters verison. http://newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/tom-blumer/2015/07/29/venezuela-orders-food-producers-divert-output-empty-state-stores07/30/2015 - 4:25am
MattsworknameNot game related, but wow, Were are all those people who sand the praises of venezula now http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/L/LT_VENEZUELA_FOOD_SHORTAGES?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT07/30/2015 - 4:25am
Goth_Skunk... is one you can acknowledge, then you'll enjoy it.If you CAN'T acknowledge such a mindset, then you must be MovieBob. Welcome to GP. :^)07/30/2015 - 4:13am
Goth_SkunkIf you watch Pixels expecting it to be Film Of The Year, or if you expect a Best Actor performance from Adam Sandler, then yes, you will be disappointed. If the idea that a film can simply be fun and entertaining without needing to be serious...07/30/2015 - 4:12am
MattsworknameIm kinda torn goth, on one hand , the effects look cool, but im not sold on sandler as the star07/30/2015 - 3:54am
Goth_SkunkBut did the film specfically take elements of Space Invaders and dedicate scenes and acts to it? No, they didn't.07/30/2015 - 3:49am
Goth_SkunkThe whole film is kinda centered around a Space Invaders theory.07/30/2015 - 3:49am
 

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