Players, Characters, and the Gamer's Dilemma

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 77 (2):133-143 (2019)
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Is there any difference between playing video games in which the player’s character commits murder and video games in which the player’s character commits pedophilic acts? Morgan Luck’s “Gamer’s Dilemma” has established this question as a puzzle concerning notions of permissibility and harm. We propose that a fruitful alternative way to approach the question is through an account of aesthetic engagement. We develop an alternative to the dominant account of the relationship between players and the actions of their characters, and argue that the ethical difference between so-called “virtual murder” and “virtual pedophilia” is to be understood in terms of the fiction-making resources available to players. We propose that the relevant considerations for potential players to navigate concern (1) attempting to make certain characters intelligible, and (2) using aspects of oneself as resources for homomorphic representation.



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Author Profiles

Emily Caddick Bourne
University of Manchester
Craig Bourne
University of Hertfordshire

Citations of this work

Resisting the Gamer’s Dilemma.Thomas Montefiore & Paul Formosa - 2022 - Ethics and Information Technology 24 (3):1-13.
The gamer’s dilemma: an expressivist response.Garry Young - 2024 - Ethics and Information Technology 26 (2):1-12.
Emotion and Ethics in Virtual Reality.Alex Fisher - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
Can we solve the Gamer’s Dilemma by resisting it?Morgan Luck - 2024 - Ethics and Information Technology 26 (2):1-8.

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References found in this work

Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts.Kendall L. Walton - 1990 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 49 (2):161-166.
The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (2):55.
Representation and make-believe.Alan H. Goldman - 1990 - Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines 36 (3):335 – 350.
A new solution to the gamer’s dilemma.Rami Ali - 2015 - Ethics and Information Technology 17 (4):267-274.

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