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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WonderkarpI'm actually quite excited for rockband 4. cause I feel like theyve had enough time to learn from mistakes and make a better game with better accessories03/05/2015 - 2:22pm
Andrew EisenAnd, for those who want more detail on Rock Band 4, here's an interview with the dev: http://www.hardcoregamer.com/2015/03/05/harmonix-talks-rock-band-4-wii-u-version-missing-keytar-and-upcoming-songs/137579/03/05/2015 - 2:08pm
Wonderkarphttp://techraptor.net/content/rock-band-4-announced Rock Band 4 is coming.03/05/2015 - 12:29pm
Andrew EisenMechaTama - Again, my apologies for being unclear. The last sentence really should have started "For example, in the below link," similar to how I worded the request the last time I made it.03/05/2015 - 11:57am
Papa MidnightBecause, you know, that's worked out so well over the past 10 years that they've said the same exact thing: https://i.imgur.com/RFrFNoZ.jpg03/05/2015 - 9:25am
Papa MidnightAh, it's a new year. You know what that means: time for Microsoft to renew it's promise on PC Gaming! http://www.businessinsider.com/windows-10-games-2015-303/05/2015 - 9:24am
MechaTama31Not to belabor the point, but you did say "folks" and "any links", which doesn't sound to me like you were referring only to one particular link... </pedant> ;)03/05/2015 - 8:33am
MechaCrashIt can be made extraneous, depending on how you format the URL. For example: http://youtu.be/dQw4w9WgXcQ03/05/2015 - 6:28am
Andrew EisenMechaTama - I was referring specifically to the link below my post. I should have been more clear. My bad.03/05/2015 - 2:42am
james_fudgefair point, let's say "excluding YouTube videos"03/05/2015 - 2:25am
MechaTama31The stuff after the ? is not *always* extraneous.03/04/2015 - 11:57pm
MechaTama31AE: But that would make your link https://www.youtube.com/watch , which wouldn't work so well... ;)03/04/2015 - 11:56pm
E. Zachary KnightFor those curious, that timeline came from Destructoid: http://www.destructoid.com/tomm-hulett-s-unified-mario-timeline-theory-288472.phtml03/04/2015 - 8:11pm
WymorenceJeez, who'd have thought Yoshi doing a good deed was the reason for everything in Mushroom Kingdom being so screwed up...?03/04/2015 - 7:49pm
prh99The most popular games on Steam for 2014 http://bit.ly/1zLE0r403/04/2015 - 7:47pm
Papa MidnightWow, EZK. Oh my goodness, that timeline is huge.03/04/2015 - 6:59pm
E. Zachary KnightIt's the Super Mario timeline. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/386496/smbTimeline_huge.png03/04/2015 - 6:49pm
prh99There are the various URL shortening services.03/04/2015 - 6:45pm
WymorenceIronic that they're releasing a game about cops and robbers in essence while they don the "extortionist" mask...03/04/2015 - 6:38pm
james_fudgeI'm not a miracle worker :)03/04/2015 - 6:09pm
 

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