If you’re in the mood for some awesome ethical adventuring then look no further! Below is a snippet of a short article I just wrote concerning the rights of characters in video games. Click on the link to see the full article. Enjoy!
What if you walk along and everything that you see is more than what you see – the person in the T-shirt and slacks is a warrior, the space that appears empty is a secret door to an alternate world? What if, on a crowded street, you look up and see something appear that should not, given what we know, be there? You either shake your head and dismiss it or you accept that there is much more to the world than we think. Perhaps it really is a doorway to another place. If you choose to go inside you might find many unexpected things. – Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong.
Sometimes the line between the real world and fantasy is substantially thinner than we may believe. Things that were once scoffed at as being impossible fancies were the next day fully present within our reality. Once, only the dreams of visionaries could encounter the void of space and today people live there for months at a time. Once, the idea of an artificial limb or robotic companion was mere whimsy while today they are the foundations of medical discovery. Clearly, just because something seems impossible today does not mean that it is in fact impossible all together. It is in this space, between the fully realized and the potential dream, in which video games exist. Here, one can don the role of space marine, a medieval knight, or a martial arts master. The fantasy of who we could be collides with the expanse of our imagination and we are transported to a realm that is simultaneously real and an illusion. Yet, if this space of video games is real then why do we act in ways within it that we never could in the real world? At the same time, if it is fantasy then why do we restrict ourselves from delving into the dark recesses of our desires, that is to say, why do we ensure that the game is always merely just a game? These questions are gravely important because in some regards they may be guiding us toward a set of principles that will extend beyond the game into the real world. Baring this in mind, I will seek to discern whether or not it is moral to inflict actions on hypothetical sentient beings in video games that we would not live out on actual sentient beings in reality.