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Ethics and Morality of Game Developers


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Reunited some interesting posts related to ethics and morality of video game industry. 
I think it will be more enriching if more people are able to contribute and give their opinion.
Reading the articles before answering the questions is recommended but not required.
Feel free to recommend more articles or questions.

Ethic of Game Design

More Thoughts on designing addictive videogames

Chasing the whale

Business Ethics: Do companies have a moral obligation to attempt to help (normalize) customers who become addicted to their services?


  • Is it ethical to develop video games? it's morality is positive or negative?
  • Who is responsible of video game addiction game developers or video game players?
  • If a kid is addicted to video games is it the fathers fault?
  • Where do video game developers draw the line between making their product too addictive?
  • Is their fault or is it fault of the capitalism?


Best of luck to Cam, you are indeed making something meaningful for society, and you are at the right time at the right place, sooner than later you will be the authority in this topics. Cheers.


Edited by Daniel
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Hey awesome ressources. This is all very interesting. I think it isn't unethical to build a potential addicting gamedesign. But to use addicted players to create revenue seems highly unethitical. I sympathize with the Position of the author of the last articel. If gaming firms are able to select all These Players data. They should enforce ways to stop peoople abusing their games in addictive behaviour. I.e. discourage gaming marathons with stopping giving rewards after a few hours of gaming.

Edited by WorkInProgress
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uff... well this is a sensitive topic that allows a lot of opinions and answers. I will answer all your questions and then write my own opinion to this topic(warning large post):


- Is it ethical to develop games? it's morality is positive or negative?

-->ethically there is surely nothing wrong with simply developing games. Developing games just for being costly and addictive to squeeze out the maximum of people who are (most likely somehow) already at the bottom side however is moraly wrong and disgusting... Abusing the human psychology so they get addicted to your product is simply wrong...BUT (see next question)

- Who is responsable of videogame addiction game developers or videogame players?

--> it is not the developers fault in the end. If these people wouldn't fall for videogames it could had easily been something else. There needs to be enlightment in this topic and (the keyword to it all) AWARENESS of it as well as the REACHABLE offer to help (like there is for psychological(depression etc.) and physiological(drugs etc.) cases). And that's why we need to spread awareness about it and that's why Cam is a hero for taking the initiative here.

Both are responsible in this relationsship. Game developers design their product to be catchy and addictive but that's just how many things are and how a lot of business works (sadly) and that's not just the case with videogames. Game developers lay out a "Gamer-trap" (see it as a bear trap in game form) and the videogame players are dumb enough to fall for it because they don't know it better and it is decorated pretty. But what we can do, is to make everyone realize that in fact it can be just a trap (and not "just a game") and help in case someone wants to get out of this trap.

- If a kid is addicted to videogames is it the fathers fault?

--> Depends on the age of the kid. If it is a young kid that can't make rational decisions and it's already getting addicted to it, definitly the father's fault. If it's a teenager who is already capable of making rational decisions, it is partially the father's fault. There is a time when parents need to give their kids the chance to make rational decisions in their life so they learn how to handle situation, but just mindlessly looking how your child gets addicted to videogames and solves his problems this way definitly is not the right way. I mean,... we all wouldn't just watch our kids smoking everytime they feel stressed right? But at some point in their life it's just their decision...The teenager should definitly be encouraged to do the right rational decisions though, but gaming is such an modern, unknown addiction that most parents just can't help themselves.

- Where do videogame developers draw the line between making their product too addictive?

--> Nowhere. The more popular their product gets and the more people keep on playing it, the better. You read nowadays more about the creator of addictive apps getting rich than about people that ruin their lives with their addiction and this is a bad encouragement. There needs to be more awareness in any way. Imagine there would be a GameQuitter Sticker in every game so you would think "huh? what's that? oh really there is a gaming addiction and even help for it? I didn't knew that! *throws it away to find it probably later*" or a message that says "gaming addiction ruins the lives of million" with a picture of a completly dilapidated human-being(like they do with cigarettes), do you think you would had quit way earlier if there would had been these warning messages? We need to help ourselves as a community by spreading awareness and helping those in need like we do :)

- Is their fault or is it fault of the capitalism?

--> I wish i could say: Totally the fault of capitalism. Maybe I'm a bit naive here but I honestly don't think that people intentionally design products to ruin peoples lifes just for the sake of ruining their lifes. But in the end those people decided to do it (intentionally or unintentionally) and as we learn here everyone has the power to decide, and these people decided for power and money for the cost of other persons free will. But once again, this and other addictions/problems are enemies that mankind is going to have together. And there will be many other enemies that come and stay for a while that we need to fight off together, so there is actually no point in bothering whose fault it is but in thinking about how can we solve this whole thing and prevent from happening it again. Because money will always influence people, there is no way to change it. But we can always change a persons attitude towards this influence and the repercussions of it. Not everyone has to decide to be a greedy sh*t for the sake of other people's health/will as well as all people don't have to fall for the sh*t these people are doing.

Also, this is not a problem everyone has. Some people can't handle alcohol, so is it the creators or the substances fault? Should we now stop producing alcohol at all because some people can't handle it? Some people can't handle money, should we now forbid to spent money?

We need to work with people not with the system or at least create systems that work with people. And it is possible that 2 systems can coexist, so we can have capitalism and a society that works with people and not just with money .... but that is up to anyone and a little bit off-topic, back to the point:

So the keypoint for me here is awareness. But since this is all a modern thing it is hard to spread it so effectively and definitly needs a new and innovative way of doing so (just spreading some sentences on game boxes obviously won't do it with all the modern techniques of online purchases).


I want to point out again that this is just my opinion. If you think it is helpful in some points then that's cool and if you think I am just talking nonsense that's fine too :D Feel free to discuss with me about some topics so we can possibly find answers that we can both agree on :)

Edited by tirEdOrange
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Thank you for your answers, is not about being right or wrong, but about getting different points of view!

The gamequitters sticker sounds like a great idea. For example PokerStars has the option of Self-Exclusion from their Responsible Gaming program. Of course the reason why they have it´s because gambling addiction has been proved. Perhaps one day, when Videogame addiction is official, Self-Exclusion and Responsible Gaming for videogames will become possible.

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The gamequitters sticker sounds like a great idea. For example PokerStars has the option of Self-Exclusion from their Responsible Gaming program. Of course the reason why they have it´s because gambling addiction has been proved. Perhaps one day, when Videogame addiction is official, Self-Exclusion and Responsible Gaming for videogames will become possible.

There are a lot of discussions happening behind the scenes on this type of thing. Working on doing a study soon partnered with a game dev to see if gamers will do a personalized feedback assessment during a game, to see if bringing more awareness to their game play will have a + affect on reducing it a bit. Also I think there will be an organization established soon to advocate on behalf of video game addicts.

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I would say there's nothing wrong with making games, not everyone ends up playing them 24/7.

You can make a single player game, that doesn't have any tricks that make you play it multiple times.

It can still be a great game/experience.

I also don't think that all addictive games are done only for the profit.

I'd say people making games love them, therefore try to make the game as fun as possible (blizzard for example).

Obviously there are some games that use every mind hack possible just to get the money, but I think most of them are mobile games.


It might not be a super popular opinion here, but I like games. For some time I had some regret for playing them 20+ years, but now I don't. I had a great time and I wouldn't change it for drinking my time away ( which is pretty much the only other hobby that people seem to like).


PS making games is my hobby

Edited by krdsl
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with a commend I read from Nightfall in other forum (link) as follows.

If you have a problem with gaming, which I do, and I assume you guys also do, programming games is the worst thing to do.

I have a degree in computer programming, I have experience with programming, and one dream I always had was to program games. Thing is I got lost somewhere within that "research". I wasn't playing, I was researching to make games. I made two small games, then I simply forgot it.

There are other IT fields you don't need to program games if you have a problem with games, that's what I'll do. System programming, web development, database management, applications, computer science, science program development. I'll let other guys who are not trying to quit develop games. I'll not use them anyway.

Study programming, just don't develop games as you won't be able to test them. It's easy to get lost in endless research, and despite I said it being a dream of mine, I have not coded 1 single line of code since I left university so let's be honest. I speak for myself, I can't handle this.

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