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JSC 419 Class blog


An Ethical Dilemma for the Gaming Industry

Fortnite is an up and growing game accessible on various platforms, such as PlayStation, Xbox, Steam, Mobiles, and so on. Created and published by Epic Games, and first released in July 2017. Award-winning with more nominations, the server contains over 250 million users all over the world. The game has caused huge media attention yet somehow was not targeted as much as other similar games for violence and unethical content, such as PUBG, GTA V, BattleField, and many others.

The main idea of the solo mode in the game is to jump off a floating bus onto an island with around 99 other, where each player needs to kill to survive. Naturally, the last man standing is the winner. Unlike other similar games, Prince Harry stated his desire to ban the game, not for the violence it promotes, but for the addiction, it creates for players of all ages.

According to Sicart, “Players no longer are passive moral creatures, exposed to unethical content: computer game players reflect, relate, and create with an ethical mind.” Games such as PUBG and GTA V actually tend to award players on violent acts, racist and sexist speech. Naturally, such games are held questionable for morality and ethics being emitted to users. Sicart explains that dealing with the responsibility of game designers in producing such games is no easy task, a task that requires a high level of innovation to keep the “entertaining” element in the game but be equally responsible in the morality and ethics it inspires the players to act upon.

Although no study directly links such games to teenage serial killers due to the very slim study group, it is undeniable that such gory games tend to ease the players into accepting the possibility of having such actions in real life. A kill in PUBG results in blood splatter and the killer can steal his victim’s material, such as weapons, clothes, and so on. In GTA, the player is also capable of hitting the victim even after killing it. Comparing such violent games to what cinema and rock and roll once where, indicates that can become an acquired taste, where people accept such acts to exist around them.

Fortnite has taken all these arguments into consideration, which is very much a key reason for why it escapes most claims of questionable morality and ethics. For one, Fortnite does not discriminate any sex or race where characters are derived equally with respect to all. Stating clearly for all users that any “skin” has absolutely no effect on the character’s performance in the game. Despite some accusations that some skins are better in the sense of visibility and camouflage, any user has a variety of free option, male and female and gender-free unrealistic characters to be selected from.

The Banana Character — Unrealistic characters

In the aims of avoiding censorship for gore and violent content, Fortnite stands out between the “Battle Royale” games as it does not showcase any blood splatter or visible damage/harm to the character. It also tends to promote unrealistic characters, which prevents linking the action of killing in the game to that of the killing in the real world.

Along with awards for challenges for killing within the game, the game focuses more in its challenges on nonviolent actions, such as dropping in different zones on the map, using different attributes in the game, searching and locating objects, dancing in specific zones and the list goes on with nonviolent requirements to progress and evolve in the game. It may as well be considered morally positive and ethical for including objectives that actually may have a positive effect on the user’s real life, such as thanking the bus driver before exiting the bus, sharing material with other players, healing partners and so on.

Earning Points for Thanking Bus Driver

Knowing that no study yet has definitively stated that violent video games are to be linked to real-life violent acts and horrific incidents. It is undeniable that any video game is more than capable of influencing the user in one way or another. Could the influence it creates be positive in any way? Would it affect the game’s popularity or level of entertainment? Evidently, Fortnite has shown that a “Battle Royale” game based on killing for survival, can be just as entertaining, if not more than others while keeping an ethical code and directing the influence it creates to a more positive outcome.

No gory content when a player is “killed out”

Instead of having blood splatter and gory corpses, Fortnite’s victims are beamed out of the field. Similar approaches could be taken in other video games. Such restrictions could be required on other games, on the bases that it evidently does not harm the game’s success, and is as entertaining. Instead of banning and censoring games such as GTA V and PUBG, they could be restricted into designs in future editions where it could promote more positive acts in which could be influential for the users.




Media Ethics and the Law

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Majed Zein

Majed Zein

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