Defending the morality of violent video game - Ethics Inf Technol(2010 12:127138 DOI 10.1007\/s10676-010-9222-x Defending the morality of violent video

Defending the morality of violent video game - Ethics Inf...

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Defending the morality of violent video games Marcus Schulzke Published online: 20 March 2010 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010 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 crit- icisms 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 Á Computer game Á Kant Á Utilitarianism Á Video game Á Violence Á Virtual world One of the most controversial and practically significant topics in the study of contemporary media is whether there is a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior. In recent years, video games have replaced television, movies, and music as the primary concern. Video game violence has received a great deal of attention, yet for all the discussion of it, we know sur- prisingly little. The debate seems to be deadlocked, with empirical and theoretical work supporting and attacking violent video games making little progress toward a definitive conclusion. This is for two reasons. First, the empirical studies do not consistently one side. Most sug- gest that simulated violence is harmful, but there is a sig- nificant body of work reaching the opposite conclusion, as well as studies showing bias among researchers critical of gaming. More importantly, games seem to have no effect on crime as an increased propensity to aggression suggests that they would. Second, the ongoing debate about video game violence suffers from some problems of framing. Violent gaming is often made out to be a single issue, when in fact there are multiple interrelated questions that must be addressed. This essay will show that violent games are not immoral on Kantian, Aristotelian, or utilitarian grounds, except in some limited circumstances. In doing so, it will also seek to clarify the study of video game violence by illustrating the different types of critiques that opponents tend to make. Judging games from a Kantian or Aristotelian stand- point is primarily a theoretical, while the utilitarian approach requires empirical study. Analyzing these as distinct parts of the anti-violent gaming argument helps to see what counts as evidence for each perspective. The first part of this essay looks at gaming using each of these three moral theories and assesses how each would assess violent gaming. It explicates some of the major arguments made for and against violent games and proposes several new reasons why there is little reason to find violent video games morally objectionable. The second part considers
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