The video gamer’s dilemmas

Ethics and Information Technology 24 (2) (2022)
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The gamer’s dilemma offers three plausible but jointly inconsistent premises: (1) Virtual murder in video games is morally permissible. (2) Virtual paedophelia in video games is not morally permissible. (3) There is no morally relevant difference between virtual murder and virtual paedophelia in video games. In this paper I argue that the gamer’s dilemma can be understood as one of three distinct dilemmas, depending on how we understand two key ideas in Morgan Luck’s (2009) original formulation. The two ideas are those of (1) occurring in a video game and (2) being a virtual instance of murder or paedophelia. Depending on the weight placed on the gaming context, the dilemma is either about in-game acts or virtual acts. And depending on the type of virtual acts we have in mind, the dilemma is either about virtual representations or virtual partial reproductions of murder and paedophelia. This gives us three dilemmas worth resolving: a gaming dilemma, a representation dilemma, and a simulation dilemma. I argue that these dilemmas are about different issues, apply to different cases, and are susceptible to different solutions. I also consider how different participants in the debate have interpreted the dilemma in one or more of these three ways.



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Rami El Ali
University of Arizona

Citations of this work

A Kantian response to the Gamer’s Dilemma.Samuel Ulbricht - 2023 - Ethics and Information Technology 25 (3):1-11.
Between death and suffering: resolving the gamer’s dilemma.Thomas Coghlan & Damian Cox - 2023 - Ethics and Information Technology 25 (3):1-9.

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References found in this work

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
Games: Agency as Art.C. Thi Nguyen - 2020 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Games and the art of agency.C. Thi Nguyen - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (4):423-462.
The Virtual and the Real.David J. Chalmers - 2017 - Disputatio 9 (46):309-352.

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