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Case Study: Ethics and the Gaming Industry.
The games entertainment is one of the biggest industries in the world, generating around 150 US Billion dollars annually . To put that into perspective, this is equivalent to the revenue generated by Hollywood and the Music industry combined.
Video games are one of the most popular forms of recreation in the world. The games are available across multiple platforms including and not limited to PC, Mobile, and Console and are available directly for all age groups and demographics. Recently, the gaming industry has come under immense scrutiny due to industry practices as well as the games it develops.
It’s no secret that the video game industry is profitable. One popular Massive Multiplayer Online game, Fortnight, raked in 1.2 billion dollars of revenue within less than a year of its July 2017 launch. Candy Crush Saga, a prominent mobile game, earned 945 million in one year at the height of its fame . These games are free of charge to download and make their profits via in-game purchases (commonly referred to as “micro transactions”). The results of these micro transactions can range from outfits or weapon modifications to more functional elements such as larger inventories or access to higher levels. The game design is created in a way to entice the players to engage with these micro transactions to progress to the next level within the game.
One of the micro transaction features offered within the games are called the “loot box”. This “box” consists of a random skin, power-ups or user icon that can be bought as add-on within the game. Due to the random nature of the contents of the loot box, the probability of getting an item the player desires are quite low. For this reason, the player must buy a considerable amount of these boxes to obtain the item they desire. Because the outcome of loot boxes is totally independent of player skill and based on complete chance, utilizing these features resembles gambling; just as one pays to spin a slot machine in hopes of the unlikely event of landing three like symbols, one similarly can pay for a loot box in hopes of winning a certain outfit for their avatar. One study conducted in 2018 found that problem of gambling is strongly linked to purchasing loot boxes; the more intense gambling addiction a given subject had, the more often they purchased loot boxes in video games .
It has been suggested for quite some time that game developers are instructed by the companies they work for to deliberately design games that are addictive in nature, and are instructed to create game play and design that targets certain demographics such as teenagers and kids. he players of these games develop unhealthy addictions to these games, sometimes playing them for over 20+ hours straight until they unlock a certain achievement or reach a milestone within the game. he game companies also profiting from the users potential addiction by offering them certain advantages over other players or by encouraging them to upgrade their game play through one or more micro transactions to gain competitive advantage in the game.
Longer game play times have been linked to several health issues such as depression, anxiety, obesity, etc. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially added gaming disorder to its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) . Researchers studying this topic have often put gaming addiction on the same level as Tobacco or substance addiction .
Unlike the gambling or entertainment industries which are regulated by a governing body, the gaming industry does not come under any regulation. Taking advantage of this, game companies could introduce feature/s without any specific approvals and can regulate features at their convenience.
It is then left to the developers and it professionals working in these gaming industries to follow ethical practices when designing these games.
This assignment is centered on the ethics around power (and the potential misuse of power) of gaming industry operators and how their business model relies on gaming addiction of (mostly) young people.
In this assignment you will write a 3-part report to analyze and respond to the ethical concerns around the topic (using ethical frameworks upon which to evaluate it).
o clarify, you are permitted to discuss the ethical issues associated with in gaming design of the games mentioned in the background as well as other games and their design and development teams.
The assignment is to be delivered/ submitted online through LMS. Your paper should include analysis of the issue and the response in a carefully considered series of steps.
Response Part 1: Establish the facts (300 words)
- Outline a chronological sequence of events of the issue and the actions that occurred after (i.e. as a consequence of the respective events you have outlined). Ensure you gather information from multiple sources (to verify accuracy) and cite
Response Part 2: Player and Team Response (600 words)
- Clearly state the ethical dilemma
- Cite at least three (3) sources to build a case:
- To support the rights of major tech companies to use their power, or
- To argue against the rights of major tech companies to use their power
Response Part 3: Your evaluation of the outcome (600 words)
- Describe your viewpoint based on your analysis of background
- Be sure to elaborate in the context of at least two (2) ethical frameworks discussed in this You should not list all of the questions (and answers) that the ethical frameworks use, they should instead be used as a reference (guide) for you to use in your analysis.
- How does the eventual outcome resonate with your viewpoint?
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