Virtual Rape and Torture
There was lots of controversy on the final day of the conference about the “Ethics of Computer Games.” Conference host Patrick Coppock pointed out that the virtualization of the war might be far more ethically troubling than Super Columbine Massacre RPG. Edward H. Spence revisited some of the territory of Julian Dibbell’s classic, “A Rape in Cyberspace" to argue that avatars, as representations of real, sentient beings, had a right to the dignity of personhood. Some in the audience questioned whether real world morality and its associated legal structure could really be transferred to spaces of fantasy. Next Rune Ottosen gave a journalistic perspective on how military videogames were skewing public perceptions of news events. Peter Rauch presented some of his comprehensive research on torture in videogames and proposed a serious game that would show its negative psychic and geopolitical consequences. Before my paper, the last one of the conference, Ren Reynolds offered a nuanced view of how communal norms function in MMO games. Reynolds blogs with Edward Castronova at the excellent Terra Nova and is also interesting from a Virtualpolitik standpoint because he has worked as a web designer for a number of government sites in the U.K.