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Time for Ethical Game Design

April 23, 2011

“This is the time I’m least certain about the future of games that I’ve ever been in my entire life,” said Linden Labs CEO Rod Humble, at a sobering and soul searching talk he delivered earlier this week. Gamasutras Christian Nutt attended and you can find his write up of the discussion here.

“Taken that games are already in galleries, Humble said, “There’s a larger question — does art actually change people? Does it actually have an impact? Because if we’re going to be this massive art form then we’ve got to start thinking about what we’re doing.”

It’s not that games aren’t capable of being art — it’s that “the main problem is that we’re afraid of our critics,” he said, referring to detractors who speak out against the game industry. That’s because “There are many critics out there who we believe mean us harm,” and say things like “‘Yes, you can change people, and it’s for the worse.'”

500 hours of play is the target goal when you design an MMO, he pointed out. And in an experience like that, “We’re sitting in there, repeating the same mechanics again and again, with the game face” — the blank expression many have when playing games. “It frightens me the same way it frightens many of our critics.”

That said, “I think it’s extremely important to look at it and say how can we take responsibility as game creators. What games should we ethically build? If you are going to be influencing those [players] you have an enormous weight on your shoulders.”

Read the full article here

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