School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Research Publications

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    The Ethics of Multiplayer Game Design and Community Management
    A. Sparrow, L ; Gibbs, M ; Arnold, M (ACM, 2021-05)
    Game industry professionals are frequently implementing new methods of addressing ethical issues related to in-game toxicity and disruptive player behaviours associated with online multiplayer games. However, academic work on these behaviours tends to focus on the perspectives of players rather than the industry. To fully understand the ethics of multiplayer games and promote ethical design, we must examine the challenges facing those designing multiplayer games through an ethical lens. To this end, this paper presents a reflexive thematic analysis of 21 in-depth interviews with games industry professionals on their ethical views and experiences in game design and community management. We identify a number of tensions involved in making ethics-related design decisions for divided player communities alongside current game design practices that are concerned with functionality, revenue and entertainment. We then put forward a set of design considerations for integrating ethics into multiplayer game design.
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    Ludic Ethics: The Ethical Negotiations of Players in Online Multiplayer Games
    Sparrow, LA ; Gibbs, M ; Arnold, M (SAGE Publications, 2020-01-01)
    This study introduces the ludic ethics approach for understanding the moral deliberations of players of online multiplayer games. Informed by a constructivist paradigm that places players’ everyday ethical negotiations at the forefront of the analysis, this study utilises a novel set of game-related moral vignettes in a series of 20 in-depth interviews with players. Reflexive thematic analysis of these interviews produced four key themes by which participants considered the ethics of in-game actions: (1) game boundaries, (2) consequences for play, (3) player sensibilities, and (4) virtuality. These results support the conceptualisation of games as complex ethical sites in which players negotiate in-game ethics by referring extensively – although not exclusively – to a framework of ‘ludomorality’ that draws from the interpreted meanings associated with the ludic digital context.