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.

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

---------
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.

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Will Code Avarice's Paranautical Activity make its way back onto Steam?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
MaskedPixelanteGOG has a four day countdown to their next publisher. All hints suggest Disney, but no guarantee it'll be LucasArts.10/24/2014 - 6:58am
Neo_DrKefkawith a neutral party Moderating it. I've been waiting a long time for a GamerGate to happen but now all I want is the healing to start. Weird huh? Gamers don't need to be attacking gamers we should all be on the same side10/24/2014 - 12:39am
Neo_DrKefkaRight now from what I seen your tweet and the other guys tweet there are hard feelings. Until we start a dialogue with each other I think it will get worse before it will get better. I hope you guys work something out meet in a neutral stream10/24/2014 - 12:37am
Neo_DrKefkaThanks James. Even if a hot/hard headed person likes me thinks the public needs to sit down and discuss this together. We all might not agree right now but if the public does not start talking to each other we are not going anywhere.10/24/2014 - 12:36am
james_fudgeHey guys I had a nap because, getting old! I'll take a look.10/24/2014 - 12:01am
Matthew Wilsonjames needs to contact Totalbiscuit than10/23/2014 - 10:07pm
Neo_DrKefkaJames said earlier he went into a stream earlier informed them who he was and they didn't care. If James is trying to talk lets set something up?10/23/2014 - 9:38pm
Matthew WilsonTotalbiscuit has been trying for months, no one that is anti gg seems to want to talk with him on camera10/23/2014 - 9:20pm
Neo_DrKefkaHey James check your twitter. Check with Totalbiscuit see if you can get a round table discussion stream going see if he can get some pro gg people and you can get some gamejournopros. Both sides have been hurt, doxxed its time every1 sits down and talks10/23/2014 - 9:05pm
Matthew Wilsonthe wiiu will support up to 8 gc controllers http://www.smashbros.com/us/howto/entry10.html10/23/2014 - 7:50pm
quiknkoldmewtwo is a timed free exclusive. you can purchase him if you dont have both.10/23/2014 - 7:15pm
Neo_DrKefka@Monte A month and a half ago we had a lot of streams about solutions now all the streams are KingofPol styled rants about getting drunk. All Gamergate is about to many is for people to use the movement to jump start careers.10/23/2014 - 7:12pm
Neo_DrKefkaWhose stream where you in James?10/23/2014 - 7:02pm
Matthew Wilsonyup they are holding mewtwo hostage lol10/23/2014 - 5:59pm
MaskedPixelanteApparently Mewtwo is going to be a free download to anyone who bought both versions of Smash 4.10/23/2014 - 5:41pm
TechnogeekYou would also think that if GG gave a shit about journalistic ethics, Game Informer would have been the very first line of their boycott list.10/23/2014 - 5:32pm
MaskedPixelanteRidley confirmed for Smash Wii U... as a stage buddy like the Yellow Devil and flying man.10/23/2014 - 5:31pm
prh99Rather than trying to spin it as some sort of artistic choice, they should just say they don't want to rework the engine to either decouple the mechanics or make them work at 60fps.10/23/2014 - 5:25pm
Matthew Wilsonubisoft is made to look worse now. wiiu smash is 1080p 60fps lol10/23/2014 - 5:02pm
MonteYou would think that, if GG were really about journalistic ethics, their streams would be more conerned with Shadows of mordor(a REAL controversy involing a major publisher) than with the FALSE jounralistic controversy around Quinn10/23/2014 - 4:49pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician