Ethics in the Video Games

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In today’s modern society ethical values are being introduced into everyday tasks including video games. While some content of a video game may be funny and entertaining for one person, for another it might be offensive and unethical. It has been brought to the attention of video game developers to have consideration for both sides of the spectrum so that they can include both ethical and un-ethical values in their video games so that the players and consumers can learn from both experiences. This provides both a learning experience for the players while they have fun.


Ever since the first ever video game was released in the year 1958, there have been many advancements in the technology behind these mind-boggling games. “Tennis for Two” was the first ever invented video game that portrayed a source of entertainment right in the comfort of the technological box we called “computers” [1]. In today’s modern society, video games can now be found and played through the app store on your smartphone, computer at home, or consoles like the Nintendo Switch.

These games require the player to immerse themselves in new breath-taking worlds that will take from twenty to a couple hundred hours to complete or fully experience the game’s capabilities. Nonetheless, video games have become a big part of today’s society; they make a big impact in the everyday lives of children since they are born all the way up to adulthood where they can still log off from their stressful lives and log into a different world. Along with the entertainment impact that it has on society, many people often ask themselves if video games teach any kind of ethical value to the players who play them and if so what kind of influence they are having on their minds. Both ethical and non-ethical values are having a big impact in the gaming industry and should always be included in games.

In this paper the ethical and non-ethical values of games would be discussed. In section 2.1, it is explained how game developers are affected by the ethical and non-ethical values of their customers. In section 2.2, a real-life game example is shown which portrays how the gaming industry has adapted to handle both ethical and non-ethical issues presented in the recent years. In addition to this, section 2.3 discusses the role that parents play when buying games for their children and how this affects their ethical values in the future. In section 3, the ethical values of gaming will be shown in an international level. Lastly, section N presents the conclusion of ethics in the gaming world.

Ethical and Non-Ethical Values

In today’s society games that have been created for the purpose of entertainment can cause mixed reactions within the public. One games content may be funny and entertaining for one person, however for another individual it may be considered offensive and an ethical issue. Many individuals in society will point fingers to the creators of video games for creating bad influences and creating ethically wrong video games. This goes on to say that the players of such video games will also be criticized for not being ethically educated or being “bad people”.

Video games have always been a freedom of creativity for whomever develops the games. It has been about the developer creating a software for people around the world to enjoy, regardless of where they are. If the games are not considered ethical to certain standards, then that would at indicate that the players would play at their own risk. However, games developers should not be worried about the ethical meanings of the game because then it would restrict their creative imagination and restrict the content that they are trying to create. In order for people to be less offended, there should be ethical and non-ethical values included in the games so that the people buying them or playing them would be able to know what the game holds.

Game developers

Game developers are highly praised by the community of gamers for bringing unimaginable worlds for people to go into and explore while having enough fun to distract themselves from the real world. Although they bring a great amount of joy to people, some individuals think that the violent games created by some developers are stemmed from the unethical values that these game developers have.

Gamers that have committed acts of violence and have played violent games should be able to sue these game developers because the game probably influenced their unethical behavior [2]. This act could result in the banning of these types of games, but it is still not scientifically proven that such behavior is caused by video games. Instead it’s the person own uprising, experiences, and the personal impression of that individual on others that would cause the individual to act unethical [2].

It is known for game developers to make different types of games that are ethical or non-ethical. In the case of single player games, the players get to explore a fantasy world where they get to play as the main character and throughout their adventures they stumble upon quests. In addition, these quests give the player a choice to make to progress in the story and get closer into completing the game. For instance, players could be given the choice to save or kill someone in the game. This helps people see the consequences that both actions could have if picked and teach the player what to do and what not to do in the real world; including what would be most ethical out of the two options given to them. In the end, game developers make the games, their software, and all the options in them, but in the end, it is up to the player’s consciousness to choose what they think is right.

By restricting game developers to only create games that are ethical in societies eyes, it would cause a reduction of creativeness in the developers since the amount of ideas will run short to try and please everyone with what they think is right. As the society changes its values, the ethical norms that were once acceptable decades ago can be frowned upon now. If a gamer that loves the medieval age wanted to experience knights fighting in castles, he wouldn’t be able to anymore because that kind of behavior is not ethical now. Depending on a games genre then the game developers should create the corresponding ethical and non-ethical values. By including both ethical and non-ethical values in games, players would be able to learn what both sides look like and acquire knowledge to differentiate what is right from what is wrong.

Video game example

One of the most famous gaming franchises known in the past decade is called Assassins Creed and is created by Ubisoft a gaming company. In these games you play as an assassin in real historical events like the French Revolution that can be played in Assassins Creed Unity [3]. The player’s main mission is to protect the world from templars by killing the templar leaders to stop them; but if you kill a civilian your game would restart to your last save because in the game it is ethically wrong to kill innocent people making the player to abide by the ethical rules of the games.

In the loading screen of every Assassins Creed game, a screen will appear that would tell the player that the game was inspired by historical events and that it is a fiction game that people with different believes worked in creating the game. In the recent years they had to update the text to also say that people with different gender identities worked in it, as well [4]. The game developers for these games had to adapt to the new ethical changes since every year creates change in the gaming industry and this was a great way for people that love this franchise to not get offended at the developers.

Parents and Children

Games are categorized by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) organization and they assign an age restriction and ratings for the games content [5]. This organization also has a rating categorization that everyone can look up in the back of the keep case of the game. According to the ESRB, the categories are E for everyone, E +10 for everyone 10 and older, T for teens, M +17 for mature, and A +18 for adults; oftentimes these ratings would come with a description of the content that is inside of the game [5].

Parents sometimes buy their children games that are rated for older people and not the rightful age for their children. Since, young children’s brains are still in development and can’t necessarily differentiate what is ethically right, mature games could misguide them. For example, a shooting game would let a child think that shooting and killing people is right without knowing what the background information of the game is and why they are doing it. In addition to this, parents should know what game is ethically right for the age of their children and should only buy games that correspond to the right rating system.

For the reason that, there is a system in place already that compartmentalizes different age groups with the correct ratings, this makes the parents jobs of choosing the correct game easier. This helps to alleviate the societies problem of thinking that it is the children’s fault for playing unethical games for their age, when in reality it is the parent’s choice for exposing their kids to such video games.


An ethical problem found in society is addiction. People can be addicted to many things in the world like sports, work, the internet, reading, etc. It has being reported that about 44.5% of undergraduate students in the United States around the age of 23 are addicted to video games [6]. Society finds this as an ethical problem because people of their age should be focusing on their studies and working instead of playing video games [6]. This addiction to video games mainly comes from the fact that students are stressed and want something to alleviate their stress, so they turn they go to video games to relax and forget about the real-world problems they are facing.

Ethical Gaming Values Internationally

In the United States, a great amount of video games are released each year and sold to the public no matter what content it shows or it has. This implies that ethical and non-ethical games are being released to the public each year for people to buy, giving them a chance to experience a large variety of games. Unlike the United States, a country like China finds this unethical and is planning to ban games that have violence in them such as Mortal Kombat 11 because they think it can cause people to be more violent [7].

It is said that the United States does a better job with this problem by letting the consumer of these video games chose what they want to play without having the restrictions of the government disapproving the people’s choices, which makes this an ethically correct decision. Just because a game is violent doesn’t mean that it will make the players of the game bad people. Ultimately, it’s the people who make their own choices in life and that’s what defines them.


Video games have become a large part in the lives of many children and adults in our society. Game developers ultimately use their creativeness to create an interactive and fun game for people to spend their free time on; while also teaching the gamers about the ethical and non-ethical issues. Gaming companies have had to adapt in the recent years to the new ethical beliefs that society has imposed on them. Furthermore, parents who buy games that are not meant for their children age group are part of the problem since they know what should be ethically right for their children, and chose the correct path that they would like their children to be exposed to.

In addition to this, video game addiction has become a big part of undergraduate students, creating many of the problems that have risen through ethical and non ethical issues. In an attempt to censor the countries intake of video games, countries like China have stated that it is unethical to play violence games in modern time and is planning to ban them, while in the United States people can buy any game and learn from its ethical and non-ethical values. All of these factors have played a big role in the ethical and non-ethical issues of the gaming world.


  1. Tretkoff, E. (n.d.). October 1958: Physicist Invents First Video Game. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200810/physicshistory.cfm
  2. Goerger, M. (2017, February 6). Value, violence, and the ethics of gaming. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.fiu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=16669d0e-c251-454c-8d90-a91f03a20a55@sdc-v-sessmgr01
  3. Amancio, A. (n.d.). Assassin’s Creed Unity. Retrieved June 12, 2019, from https://www.ubisoft.com/en-us/game/assassins-creed-unity/
  4. Malice, A. (2015, December 2). Forums : Gaming Discussion : Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed opening disclaimer change is bizarre. Retrieved from https://v1.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.885660-Ubisofts-Assassins-Creed-opening-disclaimer-change-is-bizarre
  5. SEARCH ESRB RATINGS. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2019, from https://www.esrb.org/
  6. So-Kum Tang, C. (2017, November). Addiction to Internet Use, Online Gaming, and Online Social Networking Among Young Adults in China, Singapore, and the United States. Retrieved June 12, 2019, from https://journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.fiu.edu/doi/pdf/10.1177/1010539517739558
  7. Game on: The media regulator ends a long freeze on new video games. (2019, May 1). Retrieved June 12, 2019, from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.fiu.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=5&sid=69005914-5a97-4f55-8c13-4b1c884da682@sessionmgr4006&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=134055288&db=a9h

Cite this paper

Ethics in the Video Games. (2021, Feb 16). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/ethics-in-the-video-games/



Do video games teach ethics?
New research conducted in Canada at the University of Victoria suggests that playing video games can make children more ethically and morally aware . The five-year study was conducted by education professor Dr.
How video games affect morals?
Video games have the potential to affect a person's morals by desensitizing them to violence or by teaching them that certain actions have positive consequences.
What are ethics issues?
Ethics issues are questions of right and wrong. They are often raised in situations where people have different opinions about what the right thing to do is.
What are gaming ethics?
(2007) new video games are ethically affecting people who play them. Additionally, the ethical issues include: violence, rating, education, stereotyping against women, community and addiction . Since computer games usage is increasingly spreading, concern must be placed on the ethical issues that are built in them.
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