Ethical Issues in Online Gaming Governance

The Main Page - A Review

Governance Structures Found in Several Different Text-Based Online Communities

Ethical and Social Problems that Arise in Online Communities

Identities and Social Interactions in MUDs

Online Gaming Communities and Their Governance Structures

Can there really be issues serious enough to be labeled ethical issues in online play? What real ethical problems can there be when the only affected parties are avatars? There is etiquette to be sure. But not all etiquette is ethics. We strive to understand relativism in etiquette but we try to iron out relativism in ethics. If so, then where does online gaming morality have its basis? As a first stab at seeing the ethical issues in online play and the regulation of online play, we should remember that real people are behind the avatars; many have invested emotionally and temporally in their characters. Actions that affect avatars, then, do have some influence on their owners. Analysis on the ethical permissibility of certain in-game acts can be evaluated if we can trace those actionsí effects on the player and then ethically evaluate those effects.

One ethical issue that all online gaming communities face is the issue of whether a repeated offender of community laws should be permanently expelled. The player's account and all his or her creation will be deleted. FOr communities that place much value on their avatars, such as the players in LambdaMOO, this sort of punishment is akin to an execution.