Advertisement

Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 127–138 | Cite as

Defending the morality of violent video games

  • Marcus Schulzke
Article

Abstract

The effect of violent video games is among the most widely discussed topics in media studies, and for good reason. These games are immensely popular, but many seem morally objectionable. Critics attack them for a number of reasons ranging from their capacity to teach players weapons skills to their ability to directly cause violent actions. This essay shows that many of these criticisms are misguided. Theoretical and empirical arguments against violent video games often suffer from a number of significant shortcomings that make them ineffective. This essay argues that video games are defensible from the perspective of Kantian, Aristotelian, and utilitarian moral theories.

Keywords

Aristotle Computer game Kant Utilitarianism Video game Violence Virtual world 

References

  1. Anderson, C. A., & Dill, K. E. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(4), 772–790.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aristotle, (1999). Nicomachean ethics. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  3. Associated Press. (2001). Ashcroft attacks video violence. July 26 http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/2001/04/42856, Accessed October 1, 2009.
  4. Balkin, J. (2004). Virtual liberty: freedom to design and freedom to play in virtual worlds. Virginia law review, 90(8), 2043–2098.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartholow, B., Bushman, B., & Sestir, M. (2006). Chronic violent video game exposure and desensitization to violence: Behavioral and event-related brain potential. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42(4), 532–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2009). http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/viortrdtab.htm, Accessed September 20, 2009.
  7. Carnagey, N. L., Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2007). The effect of violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43(4), 489–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chalmers, P. (2009). Inside the mind of a teen killer. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc.Google Scholar
  9. Chappell, D., Eatough, V., Davies, M. N. O., & Griffiths, M. (2006). EverQuest—It’s Just a Computer Game Right? An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Online Gaming Addiction. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 4(3), 205–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, A., & Chalmers, D. (1998). The extended mind. Analysis, 58(1), 7–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cogburn, J., & Silcox, M. (2009). Philosophy through video games. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Dunlop, J. (2009). The US video game industry: Analyzing representation of gender and race. In C. S. A. Panayiotis Zaphiris (Ed.), Cross-disciplinary advances in human computer interaction: User modeling, social computing, and adaptive interfaces. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Inc.Google Scholar
  13. Durkin, K., & Barber, B. (2002). Not so doomed: Computer game play and positive adolescent development. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 23(4), 373–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ferguson, C. (2007a). Evidence for publication bias in video game violence effects literature: A meta-analytic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12(1), 470–482.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  15. Ferguson, C. (2007b). The good, the bad and the ugly: A meta-analytic review of positive and negative effects of violent video games. Ethics and Information Technology, 78(4), 309–316.MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  16. Fleming, M. J., & Rick Wood, D. J. (2001). Effects of violent versus nonviolent video games on children’s arousal, aggressive mood, and positive mood. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 31(10), 2047–2071.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Funk, J., Buchman, D., Jenks, J., & Bechtoldt, H. (2003). Playing violent video games, desensitization, and moral evaluation in children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 24(3), 413–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Galloway, A. (2004). Social realism in gaming. Game Studies, 4(1).Google Scholar
  19. Gibbs, N., & Timothy Roche. (1999). The columbine tapes: The columbine tapes. Time Magazine.Google Scholar
  20. Gibson, D. (2004). Communication, power, and media. New York: Nova Publishers.Google Scholar
  21. Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2007). Action-video-game experience alters the spatial resolution of vision. Psychological Science, 18(1), 88–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Grossman, D., & DeGaetano, G. (1999). Stop teaching our kids to kill: A call to action against TV, movie & video game violence. New York: Crown.Google Scholar
  23. Hourigan, B. (2008). The moral code of grand theft auto IV. http://www.ipa.org.au/publications/1323/the-moral-code-of-grand-theft-auto-iv/pg/26, Accessed October 10, 2009.
  24. Jansz, J. (2006). The emotional appeal of violent video games for adolescent males. Communication Theory, 15(3), 219–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jilted Woman ‘Murdered Avatar’ (2008) October 2. Sky News.Google Scholar
  26. Johansson, M. (2009). Why unreal punishment in response to unreal crimes might actually be a really good thing. Ethics and Information Technology, 11(1), 71–79.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  27. Johnson, K. (2006) Police Tie Jump in Crime to Juveniles. USA Today, July 13, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-07-12-juveniles-cover_x.htm, Accessed January 2, 2010.
  28. Kant, I. (1999). Groundwork on the metaphysics of morals. In M. J. Gregor (Ed.), Practical philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Klastrup, L. (2009). The worldness of everquest: Exploring a 21st century fiction. Game Studies, 9(1).Google Scholar
  30. Kutner, L., & Olson, C. (2008). Grand theft childhood: The surprising truth about violent video games and what parents can do. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  31. Langman, P. (2009). Why kids kill: Inside the minds of school shooters. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  32. Leonard, D. (2007). Unsettling the military entertainment complex: Video games and a pedagogy of peace. SIMILE: Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education, 4(4), 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Martin, M. (2008). Grand theft auto series has sold 66 million units to date. Gamesindustry.biz.Google Scholar
  34. Mathiak, K., & Weber, R. (2006). Toward brain correlates of natural behavior: fMRI during violent video games. Human Brain Mapping, 27(12), 948–956.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McCormick, M. (2001). Is it wrong to play violent video games? Ethics and Information Technology, 3(4), 277–287.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  36. Miller, K. (2008). The accidental carjack: Ethnography, gameworld tourism, and grand theft auto. Game Studies, 8(1).Google Scholar
  37. Newman, J. (2004). Videogames. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Ove, T. (2009) Crime drop a pleasant surprise: First half of ‘09 bucks trend of it usually increasing during a recession. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 26. http://www.postgazette.com/pg/09360/1023714-53.stm, Accessed January 2, 2010.
  39. Reynolds, R. (2002). Playing a “good” game: A philosophical approach to understanding the morality of games. Paper presented at the International Game Developers Association.Google Scholar
  40. Rosser, J. C. J., Lynch, P. J., Cuddihy, L., Gentile, D. A., Klonsky, J., & Merrell, R. (2007). The impact of video games on training surgeons in the 21st century. Archives of Surgery, 142(2), 181–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sakamoto, A. (2000). Video games and violence - controversy and research in Japan. In C. V. F. U. Carlsson (Ed.), Children and media violence yearbook 2000, Children in the new media landscape. Goteborg: UNESCO International Clearinghouse on Children and Violence on the Screen.Google Scholar
  42. Schulzke, M. (2009). Moral decision making in fallout. Game Studies, 9(2), http://gamestudies.org/0902/articles/schulzke, Accessed November 1, 2009.
  43. Sicart, M. (2009). The ethics of computer games. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.Google Scholar
  44. Simon, B., Kelly Boudreau, & Mark Silverman. (2009). Two players: biography and ‘played sociality’ in EverQuest. Game Studies, 9(1).Google Scholar
  45. Singer, P. (2007). Video Crime Peril vs. Virtual Pedophilia. The Japan Times.Google Scholar
  46. Tavinor, G. (2009). BioShock and the art of rapture. Philosophy and Literature, 33(1), 91–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Taylor, T. L. (2006). Play between worlds: Exploring online game culture. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  48. Waddington, D. I. (2007). Locating the wrongness of ultra-violent video games. Ethics and Information Technology, 9(2), 121–128.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  49. Wolfendale, J. (2007). My Avatar, My Self: Virtual harm and attachment. Ethics and Information Technology, 9(2), 111–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wonderly, M. (2007). A human approach to assessing the moral significance of ultra-violent video games. Ethics and Information Technology, 10(1), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State University of New York at AlbanyAlbanyUSA

Personalised recommendations