Gaming’s Language Problem

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I wrote this post ages ago, and recently re-did it as a talk for the fabulous VideoBrains:

Feminism, Games

The Media + What I Mean By “Reinforcement”

I’m not intending this to be a particular in-depth look at it – more an overview of what I mean when I use the term reinforcement in statements such as “I think games can reinforce sexism”, etc. It’s very separate from cause, as I certainly don’t think videogames by themselves can cause sexism, violence, and so on.

Firstly, what do I mean by the term? By reinforce, I mean ‘support and potentially add to pre-existing views of either the viewer or society’. Let’s start with a bit of a silly example, shall we?

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Why Gaming Has A Language Problem

Kindly funded by my backers on patreon (which I have since swapped out for the donate button opposite!) 🙂 This piece is somewhat less polished than my others – less sources too! It’s mostly an attempt to organise some thoughts I’ve been having over the past three months. Apologies, but GamerGate will come up – it’s so hard not to bring up at the moment, given my twitter feed is full of it! But, it’s not the focus, just the thing that started me thinking about this. As I said – this is mostly just thoughts, so discussion, disagreement and alternate views are more than welcome! (Especially since I suspect people have written on this before, and done so better – links much appreciated).

So – what do I mean when I say gaming has a language problem?

Well, as it stands, we don’t have a language to talk about a lot of aspects of gaming – the games themselves, their design, the culture surrounding them. We’re limited in what we can discuss, and how we can discuss it.

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Games, Philosophy

Morality, Games and Papers, Please

[Major spoilers for Papers, Please, Mass Effect 2 and minor spoiler for Infamous]

In my last post I talked about how Bioshock can give us a handle on moral responsibility and free will. In this post I’ll be sticking with the theme of morality, but looking at a different aspect of it – how do we decide what is moral, and how do we act on it? To do this I’ll be looking at Papers, Please (if you’ve not played it, stop reading right now, go and do so and then come back). I’ll start by talking about how Papers, Please is a much better simulator of moral decisions than many games that actively try to be are, before looking at how it also shows that philosophical moral theorising can be incredibly removed from actually attempting to be moral in every day life. To do this, I’ll focus on three key kinds of ethical theory – consequentalism, deontology and virtue based ethics. Finally, we’ll look briefly at whether Papers, Please has worth in studying philosophy.

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Games, Philosophy

Bioshock, Determinism and Moral Responsibility

[Major spoilers for Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite]

In this essay we’re going to take a whirlwind tour through the concepts of moral responsibility and determinism, using Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite as our starting point. Whilst it won’t cover everything, it will hopefully give an overview of what sort of questions come up when we talk about these things, give you some situations pulled from the games to work through, and then show how moral responsibility can exist regardless of whether we are free or not.

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