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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E. Zachary KnightConster, I think that might be a little uncalled for.05/04/2015 - 10:20am
MattsworknameConster, I vet what your saying, but lets not bring up Baltimore, that place had a very bad week.05/03/2015 - 5:48pm
MattsworknameFair enough Infophile, regardless of my own issues with the gaming industry and press, im just sorta tired of the whole GG thing as it is. it just seems pointless now you know?05/03/2015 - 5:46pm
ConsterThe trolls hiding behind GG may be too busy pretending to be looters in Baltimore right now.05/03/2015 - 3:32pm
InfophileWhich is to say, GG isn't people writing articles about GG; it's the swarm of people lashing out. That's still going on, even if not as many articles are being written about it05/03/2015 - 7:32am
InfophileIt's not about the articles, but about the people receiving threats. Found an article from just last week which says Zoe Quinn is still receiving daily threats: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/article/2015/04/28/gamergate/05/03/2015 - 7:31am
Mattsworknameup hating the game industry on a more general level .05/03/2015 - 7:25am
MattsworknameIts funny, you know what i just realized, I love video games, and I hate the industry that has been forged around them. I hate the big name publishers, the press, all that jazz. But I still love gaming. that kinda sucks that I love games and still wind05/03/2015 - 7:25am
MattsworknameIt's like teh whole thing just went quiet.05/03/2015 - 6:28am
MattsworknameInfophile, I haven't really seen much activity either way, other then a few minor articles here or there, its like GG just sorta went dormant. I dont deny that I have some concerns with gaming press and industry, but I followed GG the last few months05/03/2015 - 6:28am
Infophile@Mattsworkname: It's more of a case that many media outlets have lost interest in their usual actions. "GamerGate still viciously harassing Zoe Quinn" isn't exactly news. Even if they are. *puts on sea lion hunting gear* Come at me, GG! I dare ya!05/03/2015 - 4:40am
MattsworknameAs much a I have some of the same concerns GG supposibly crusades against, i was really under the impression GG had sorta gone into dormantcy , it had been kinda quiet the last feww months05/02/2015 - 7:42pm
Matthew Wilsonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bxcc3SM_KA if you guys haven't seen it, john oliver goes after patent trolls.05/02/2015 - 6:50pm
Matthew Wilsonwhile I dont like the guests, who ever did this is stupid. I can understand not liking GG, but come on.05/02/2015 - 6:17pm
Wonderkarpwell how about that shi.....poop05/02/2015 - 6:07pm
Andrew EisenKotaku caught it. Ran the story an hour ago. http://kotaku.com/gamergate-meetup-evacuated-after-apparent-threat-170176164505/02/2015 - 5:36pm
Wonderkarpevent was treading pretty hardcore on twitter last night. course thats just twitter. I'll agree with you if it does get reported05/02/2015 - 5:25pm
Andrew EisenAwkward wording on my part but "event" was referring to the bomb threat. It's silly to chastise mainstream press for not covering something that happened a mere 12 hours earlier, well after close of business on Friday, at a gathering very few knew about.05/02/2015 - 5:14pm
Wonderkarpthey arent "uppity" over the event not being covered. they are uppity over the harassment/bombthreats not being reported.05/02/2015 - 5:09pm
Andrew EisenWe've known that for quite a while now but I agree, completely cutting the feature is not a good move.05/02/2015 - 3:49pm
 

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