Last month I attended a lecture on the Emerging Ethical Issues in Virtual Worlds presented by Dr. Scott J. Warren of the University of North Texas Department of Learning Technologies. It was pretty ironic that the lecture was held in Second Life, a symposium developed at the University of Texas at Dallas. It was my first time actually attending a lecture in a virtual world and it was pretty exciting and surreal at the same time.
In the lecture, Dr. Scott discussed the growing ethical issues as we become more and more immersed in virtual worlds and video games. There were some debates if video game violence created violence in real life, so far there has been two arguing viewpoints on this but there hasn’t been any evidence, research is still continuing on this.
However recent news has me questioning the level of immersion that players engage in online worlds and video games, how far can we accept these certain games and online actions? should we enact ethical rules to restrict such things from continuing or will we suppress the rights of players to freely do what they want? it’s still a complex matter.
One news story really grabbed my interest on this topic. A South Korean couple starved their “real” baby while they spent more time raising their “virtual” one. Are we seeing signs of virtual addiction or is it one incident involving an extreme case of escapism?
Here’s another news story, a video game company pulled a recently developed game called Rapelay off the shelves amid public outrage by women’s rights group. This game is more of a “rape simulator” than an actual video game. I won’t go into much details, but it’s about you, the player, going around the subway raping young women, you can read the rest on the link and you can see the news video below.
There’s alot to consider as technology continues to advance at tremendous speed. Do we assume that these type of games are just fiction and it doesn’t reflect the real world? or will playing these video games manifest itself in the real world?
I remember taking a class on digital narratives one semester where my professor had us play an RPG game based on the Columbine murders called “Super Columbine Murder RPG” and we discussed about it the next time we got together. The creator developed it as a form of video game art but others believed that it mocked the events that occurred where students died. The video of this game is displayed below. Would you consider this a piece of art or a violent and insulting game insulting the memories of those who experienced this tragic event?
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