[Air-l] cfp: special issue on games and ethics

Charles Ess cmess at drury.edu
Sat Apr 23 05:23:56 PDT 2005

Dear AoIR-ists,

You heard it first on AoIR...  Please distribute as appropriate, and with
apologies for cross-postings.
CFP ­ special issue of IRIE on e-games.
- Deadline for abstracts: June 30, 2005
- Notification of acceptance to authors: August 15, 2005
- Deadline for full chapters: September 30, 2005
- Publication: December, 2005
The Ethics of E-Games
Call for Papers - IRIE, Vol. 2/2005
International Review of Information Ethics.
Deadline for abstracts: June 30, 2005
Computer-based or e-games, in both standalone and networked incarnations
(including ³Massive Multiplayer Online Games² or MMOGs), represent one of
the most popular ­ and an economically profitable ­ uses of ICTs and CMC in
the contemporary world. Such games not only simulate a range of human social
interactions, from building (perhaps utopian) societies to historical and
fantasy warfare of every age: the games further occasion and catalyze a
range of human interactions that rightly inspire research from a variety of
disciplines and specialties.
Especially violent games (e.g., Quake, Doom, Grand Theft Auto III, and
others) have generated some critical discussion, ranging from ³moral panics²
in popular media to social science investigations into possible effects and
consequences of participating in such games.  But e-games represent a
relatively neglected subject in Information Ethics. At the same time,
however, if broader discussion of e-games is to include responsible and
informed ethical reflection, much more critical reflection from the various
perspectives of Information Ethics upon the multiple dimensions of e-games
and game-playing is needed.  Hence this special issue of IRIE calls for such
critical ethical reflection.
Possible Topics and Questions
1. The Rules ­ and thus Ethics ­ of Play
While much has been written about potential psychological and social
consequences of e-games, very little academic research has focused on the
ethics of e-games.
The ethical questions and issues here, however, are many ­ for example:
A. What ethics ­ if any ­ may be expected of gamers (e.g., honesty,
fairness, respect, integrity - see: Code of Ethics
B. On the contrary, is it ethically justified to suspend such ethical
expectations within specific games (e.g., Grand Theft Auto III) ­ precisely
because these are ³just a game,² i.e., a kind of psychological and/or social
exercise that, like Carneval and other traditional events that temporarily
invert prevailing social norms, may have cathartic and/or other beneficent
C.  Are there ethical norms to be expected of game designers ­ e.g.,
avoiding designs that intentionally or inadvertently reinforce questionable
(if not dangerous and unethical) stereotypes regarding gender, ethnic and
national identities, etc.?  Or is anything justified as long as it sells in
the marketplace? 
D. How do different cultures shape and shade these ethical questions and
responses?  For example, are concerns with illicit sexuality in games
primarily only an issue for U.S. (puritanical) parents, while European
parents are more concerned about violence, while parents in Asian countries
are concerned about Š? Do different cultures understand the role of games
differently ­ and thus, the ethical questions and ways of responding to
these questions in different ways?
E. Additional questions / issues?
2. Virtue Ethics and Ethics of Care
E-games, especially in their online versions, bring together participants
from around the globe.  A specific approach to the ethics of e-Games invokes
virtue ethics ­ e.g., in Aristotelian and/or Confucian traditions ­ to ask
the question, what human excellences and potentials are fostered by our
playing such games (e.g., Coleman 2001)?
Contemporary feminist ethics, including an ethics of care (e.g., as
developed by Nel Noddings) would also raise critical questions regarding
what we learn and develop ­ specifically, what capacities for caring, if any
­ as we play such games.
What would such ethical analyses suggest to us regarding contemporary games?
Are these analyses legitimate to use ­ and/or do they beg several questions
regarding the nature of games, gamers, and game-playing?
[Coleman, Kari. 2001. Android Arete:  Toward a Virtue Ethic for
Computational Agents,  Ethics and Information Technology, 3 (4): 247-265.]
3. Social Dimensions
The larger social impacts of computing and information technologies are one
set of consequences that are ethically relevant to design and use of ICTs ­
and thus are of importance in Information Ethics.
Many negative consequences of game-playing are thematic of both popular and
scholarly literature, e.g., concerns with encouraging violence, potential
addiction, and other anti-social impacts. At the same time, however, at
least some games may be argued to have ethical and social value as they
enhance social and other sorts of skills, serve as an attractor in
e-learning environments, etc.
What can reliable research in fact tell us regarding these impacts ­ both
positive and negative? And: given the best available research on these
impacts ­ what ethical conclusions (if any) may be drawn regarding the
production and consumption of e-games?
4. Gender, Culture
It is not hard to find examples in especially the more popular e-games of
gender and cultural stereotypes ­ stereotypes that are ethically
reprehensible insofar as they ideologically justify a range of inequalities
and the violation of basic human rights. If certain games only work to
reinforce prevailing ³masculinist² stereotypes regarding how to be male; and
if certain games teach us to see ³the Other² (whether as a female and/or as
a member of a cultural/ethnic identity different from our own) as naturally
inferior, the legitimate target of violence, etc. ­ then a strong ethical
case against such games could be made.
On the other hand, gamers may be perfectly aware that ³this is just a game²
­ i.e., they may well approach such stereotypes with a distance and irony
that helps diffuse rather than reinforce them. Moreover, not all games work
by presuming such gender and/or cultural stereotypes. And finally, a growing
community of women gamers directly challenge these stereotypes about games.
Are there games and ways of playing games that help us explore our
identities as gendered beings in positive and fruitful ways, rather than
simply playing off and thus reinforcing stereotypes that may be
questionable, if not oppressive?  Are there games and ways of playing games
that in fact help us overcome ethnocentrism and come to see ³the Other² in
ways that teach us to respect the irreducible differences that define
diverse gender and cultural identities ­ perhaps even teach us to
communicate more effectively across these differences?
5. None of the Above
We do not imagine that this initial list of suggestions exhausts all
possible topics and approaches to ethical reflection on e-Games.  On the
contrary, we encourage interested authors to propose additional frameworks,
questions, ethical and analytical approaches, etc., that will add to our
insight regarding ethics and e-Games.
The Rules of the Game
Potential authors are asked to provide an extended abstract (max. 1.500
words) by 30. June 2005. The abstract should be written in the mother tongue
of the author. An English translation of this abstract has to be included,
if the chosen language is not English or German. The IJIE will publish
accepted articles (3000 words or 20,000 letters including blanks) in German,
English, Spanish, French or Portuguese. For further details see the
submission guidelines <http://ijie.zkm.de/About#submissionguidelines> .
The abstracts will be selected by the guest editors, Dr. Charles Ess and Dr.
Elizabeth Buchanan. Authors will be notified by 15. August 2005.
Deadline for the final article (according to IRIE format guide) is 30.
September 2005. All submissions will be subject to peer review. Therefore
the acceptance of an extended abstract by the members of the editorial board
does not imply the publication of the final text unless the article passed
the peer review.
For more information about the journal see: www.ijie.org
A list of documents, which potential authors might find useful, can be
requested by e-mail. Members of the ICIE will get a copy of the list via the
ICIE mailing list.
Please send queries and proposals to guest editors,
Dr. Charles Ess: <cmess at drury.edu>
Dr. Elizabeth Buchanan: <eliz1679 at uwm.edu>

Charles Ess

Distinguished Research Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies
Drury University
900 N. Benton Ave.              Voice: 417-873-7230
Springfield, MO  65802  USA       FAX: 417-873-7435

Home page:  http://www.drury.edu/ess/ess.html
Co-chair, CATaC: http://www.it.murdoch.edu.au/catac/

Exemplary persons seek harmony, not sameness. -- Analects 13.23

More information about the Air-L mailing list