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

Poll: Is it censorship when a private retailer decides not to sell a particular video game?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
MechaCrashPride does play a factor. If you sell an IP to someone, and they make a ton of money off it, it makes you look like a tool: why didn't YOU make that money? Better to sit on it than be embarassed that way.05/27/2015 - 10:58pm
ZippyDSMleeAS far as I understand it the suits think sitting on a an IP till the time is right is more profitable than tradeing it around.....hevean forbit soemone use soemthing to make money with....05/27/2015 - 9:58pm
Andrew EisenOh, there's also the Facebook page.05/27/2015 - 4:29pm
hidannikOkay :( Guess I'll just have to YouTube it when I've caught up on all the other podcasts.05/27/2015 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenI honestly don't know. The show is on my YouTube channel and we promote it here on the site every week.05/27/2015 - 4:11pm
hidannikIs there nothing a podcast app can key on?\05/27/2015 - 4:09pm
Andrew EisenYeah, we lost Libsyn quite some time ago. As such, no RSS or iTunes. We're working on finding a new (and cost effective) home but it's been really slow going.05/27/2015 - 4:07pm
hidannikThe last one on that feed was Feb 905/27/2015 - 4:05pm
hidannikThe feed is at superpac.libsyn.com05/27/2015 - 4:05pm
hidannikI ask because it hasn't shown up in my PocketCasts feed in a while. (I'm currently a month behind)05/27/2015 - 4:02pm
E. Zachary KnightAE, Loved your mom as the guest on your 30 Days of Netflix series. She is one interesting lady.05/27/2015 - 3:47pm
E. Zachary Knighthidannik, If you mean on iTunes, we are working to get it back up there soon. Otherwise, the show must go on. We record live every Saturday at 8pm Central05/27/2015 - 3:47pm
Andrew Eisenhidannik - The podcast will continue this weekend and every weekend after for the foreseeable future. What makes you ask?05/27/2015 - 3:29pm
Matthew WilsonI say no it isnt, but it depends on the reason for not selling it. were the pressured to not sell it. aka target au, or did they chose not to on their own aka gog with hatred.05/27/2015 - 3:28pm
hidannikIs there no more podcast?05/27/2015 - 3:26pm
E. Zachary KnightHere is another thought exercise. How would you feel if game developers traded in IP? http://gamasutra.com/blogs/JorgeMunoz/20150520/243471/Why_dont_developers_buysell_intellectual_property_much_like_other_assets.php05/27/2015 - 3:24pm
Andrew EisenSlightly Mad Studio comments on Wii U version of Project Cars: http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2015/05/exclusive_slightly_mad_studio_head_ian_bell_sets_the_record_straight_on_project_cars_wii_u05/27/2015 - 11:54am
E. Zachary KnightGamasutra has a really interesting interview with the Hatred developers. http://gamasutra.com/blogs/AlbertPalka/20150526/244229/Real_talk_with_Destructive_Creations_Hatred_interview.php05/27/2015 - 10:11am
WonderkarpLove Gamerevolutions Summary of Splatoon "It's like Double Dare found love with a roll of sushi and made a beautiful, action-packed Wii U game."05/27/2015 - 9:41am
E. Zachary KnightExtra Credits promotes SJW PC crap by discussing Rust's decision to include race but not give players a choice. ;) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh1zfdUTqBY05/27/2015 - 9:20am
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician