#1 Posted by MattAstr (6 posts) -

Hi all.

I need to put together a research project for school that expands for over a year. They suggest you do something your interested in otherwise it can become tedious, so I want to do something on games. Do you have any ideas on what I can research relating to games, or the gaming industry?

I was thinking of doing "What is ethical game development?", but I'm not quite sure if that will produce enough research and give me enough to work with. Any ideas you guys have?

(Apologies if this isn't the correct section. Seems like the only one that would fit)

#2 Posted by face15 (1303 posts) -

Video game violence is always a good one. Look back through the history of games and talk about all the games that people said were gonna destroy our youth.

#3 Posted by gosukiller (2324 posts) -

Right now, or actually always, gender related topics and violence are interesting to research.

That also means that it has been done to death and might not give you an easy way to be relevant.

Maybe a study of Western indie development compared to Japanese/rest of the world indie development?

A study of the impact of Steam (or similair) services on PC-gaming and the indirect impact it has on console gaming?

#4 Posted by Shivoa (634 posts) -

It really depends what subjects. You seem to be targeting sociology there, and there is masses of material to do a project on (bringing together all the scientific reports that study an area like violence, gender, or ethical development in games; maybe looking into how this mirrors wider social trends for gender equality or ethics* in software engineering or business as a whole; look at the reporting of events and how they portray the underlying understanding or reality as seen by more critical standards of scientific study).

If you want to go down the maths/coding path then there is always masses of cutting edge research in computer science and 3D rendering is an ever expanding topic (with plenty of white papers on cutting edge stuff coming out of the industry at many events, SIGGRAPH for example).

* Believe it or not, most career coders will have gone through training and consideration of the subject. This is more important when you code could kill someone than for games but anyone writing code and part of an official trade body should be aware of the ethical code of conduct they signed up to as a member (UK example).

#5 Posted by MattAstr (6 posts) -

@face15 said:

Video game violence is always a good one. Look back through the history of games and talk about all the games that people said were gonna destroy our youth.

Yeah, definitely. I think that I will do something like this, thanks.

@gosukiller said:

Right now, or actually always, gender related topics and violence are interesting to research.

That also means that it has been done to death and might not give you an easy way to be relevant.

Maybe a study of Western indie development compared to Japanese/rest of the world indie development?

A study of the impact of Steam (or similair) services on PC-gaming and the indirect impact it has on console gaming?

Really interesting and unique points you have there, cheers.

@Shivoa said:

* Believe it or not, most career coders will have gone through training and consideration of the subject. This is more important when you code could kill someone than for games but anyone writing code and part of an official trade body should be aware of the ethical code of conduct they signed up to as a member (UK example).

Wow, never thought something like that would exist. Interesting read, thanks.

#6 Edited by Laiv162560asse (487 posts) -

"What is ethical game development?" sounds like a good topic to me. It's conveniently broad and allows you to spin some material out of the whole video game violence thing without getting bogged down in it completely. I imagine that sort of discussion along with gender and race issues will form the bulk of your project. You can choose yourself how far you want to go into the introductory side-question of "Is it useful to think of entertainment media in terms of 'ethical' content and, if so, how does the question of ethics arise in media other than video games?" That could work as an intro or a continuous comparison depending on how you want to work it.

You can also look at the question of ethics in the industry, as opposed to just game content. Where is a push for 'ethical' game development going to come from, considering that the industry uniformly treats most of its workers fairly unethically (ie. huge projects with long stretches of crunch time, unreasonable hours, unpaid overtime, massive layoffs afterwards)? Does it matter if fictional game content is emotionally exploitative when the real world ethics of fair treatment of employees is being overlooked in the first place? Or are both things symptomatic of a race to the bottom in the industry; are creators trying to create the basest, most vulgar content with the broadest appeal, for the cheapest possible outlay? If ethical output exists in other media, what drives it? Can stories which highlight injustices or social problems even be created if the only thing driving creation is market demand, or does there need to be a different catalyst, eg. the work of auteurs creating unique visions? Or is the opposite the case - does auteur theory just give creators the freedom to create uniquely exploitative content without having to worry about fitting into the prevailing moral spectrum? I'm thinking David Cage and Heavy Rain here... it's story works on the same kind of principles as Saw, yet one is dismissed as gore porn and the other is hailed as an artistic milestone. Why is that? Are ethical benchmarks different for games than they are for other media and why?

I think the most important thing is to have examples and possible research lined up in your mind before you go diving into any particular question, otherwise you could end up in a dead end of nebulous rhetoric. For myself, with this particular 'ethics' question, I don't think games have any more responsibility than any other media to be ethical, and other media has already set the bar as low as it can possibly be set. Therefore there is no obligation for any one particular game to worry about the kind of morals it is reflecting. Mostly we go to games for pulp entertainment, after all. However if we look at games as a whole and see almost nothing which exemplifies an 'ethical' stance on content creation, then I think that's a problem, since that isn't the case in other media. If games become a complete ethical vacuum, then I worry about the kind of core values being inculcated into people.