Integrated Project on Pervasive Gaming

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1 Integrated Project on Pervasive Gaming WorkPackage WP5: Design & Evaluation Deliverable D5.5: Ethics of Pervasive Gaming Markus Montola (University of Tampere) Annika Waern (SICS) Jussi Kuittinen (University of Tampere) Jaakko Stenros (University of Tampere) Release date: October Status: public Public IPerG Deliverable 13/

2 Executive Summary In this report we discuss ethical issues related to pervasive gaming. Due to their nature, the pervasive games influence the ordinary life outside the game in many ways, some of which are beneficent while others are problematic. In this report we focus on the latter issues, while also demonstrating the power for beneficence and social commentary. The problematic issues that we rise involve questions of involuntary participation, power use, privacy and deception. Involuntary and unaware participation is relevant, as the nature of a typical game is contractual, and in pervasive games outsiders are drawn to the game without their explicit consent. Power use is relevant, as the game organizers and operators typically hold significant power over player, who seek to complete tasks set by operators during the game. This power division is typically very asymmetric and non transparent. Privacy is a natural concern in games that pervade everyday life bringing the required surveillance technology along. Deception takes place in many ways from purposeful reality fabrication to players discussing game issues casually with outsiders. In discussing ethics the concept of harm is critical; differentiating lasting setbacks to one s interests or assets from momentary nuisances that are a natural part of being a part of a society. While ethics can be applied to both categories, in practice the latter issues especially are better solved by politics that ethics. When harm is caused by pervasive game, the question of accountability remains. Usually such harm is caused accidentally by unforeseen circumstances. Obviously the accidents that happen in pervasive games are typically not physical like the ones in sports, but psychological and social. Responsibility of such accident is typically shared by players and game organizers: While the game designers, orchestrators and operators strongly guide the player activities, the only the players can react in real time to unforeseeable circumstances and incidents. We study the ethical issues by analyzing several cases of pervasive gaming. While the most of our detailed studies focus on past games, one examines an upcoming one and one game is constructed on concept level only for the purposes of this report. Even though this report focuses on problematic pervasive games, we want to emphasize that only few pervasive games are offensive or harmful. The purpose of this report is to make that portion even smaller in future. 2

3 Deliverable Identification Sheet IST Project No. FP Acronym IPerG Full title Integrated Project on Pervasive Gaming Project URL EU Project Officer Albert GAUTHIER Deliverable Work package D5.5 Ethics of Pervasive Gaming WP5 Design & Evaluation Date of delivery Contractual M24 Actual M24 Status Nature Dissemination Level final Prototype Report Dissemination Public Consortium (CO) Authors (Partner) Responsible Author Markus Montola (UTA), Jussi Kuittinen (UTA), Jaakko Stenros (UTA), Annika Waern (SICS) Markus Montola Partner University of Tampere Phone Abstract This report discusses the ethics of (for pervasive gaming, based on five case dissemination) examples as well as brief review of central ethical standpoints related to pervasive gaming. Keywords pervasive game, unaware participation, social expansion, temporal expansion, ambiguous gameplay, ethics Version Log Issue Date Rev No. Author Change 9 th of Aug. 0.1 Montola First draft 14 th of Aug 0.2 Montola Added EM2 etc. 18 th of Aug 0.3 Montola Added ethics chapters from Jussi and Annika etc. 24 th of Aug 0.4 Montola Added autonomy and deception from Jussi etc. 4 th of Sept 0.5 Montola Reorganized, added stuff. 10 th of Oct 0.9 Montola Addressed reviewer comments, added text. 3

4 Table of Contents Executive Summary... 2 Table of Contents Introduction Introduction to Ethics Traditional Starting Points Applied Ethics The Ethics of Technology Usage Artistic Motivation and Societal Commentary Case Studies Vem Gråter Prosopopeia Bardo 1: Där Vi Föll Epidemic Menace Beneficent Gaming, a Casuistic Exercise Practical Considerations Unaware Participation Public Space Ludic Interpretation Story Spin Reality Fabrication Player Rights Operator Power Conclusion Acknowledgements References

5 1 Introduction The salient feature of pervasive games is the way the borders of game and non game are blurred (see Montola 2005; Montola, Waern & Nieuwdorp 2006 for definitions and discussion). As the interface of the pervasive game is ambiguous, the game actions conducted by players and game orchestrators are both game actions and non game actions. 1 In addition of wondering what is acceptable in the context of game, the pervasive game designer needs to contemplate on what is acceptable in real life. Perhaps the two most important aspects are fabrication and surveillance. Pervasive games are structures of make believe fabrication overlapping with the ordinary life of the players. This fabrication ranges for example from playing combat robots (Botfighters) to vampires (Vampire: The Masquerade), medical scientists (Epidemic Menace 2), ghosts (Prosopopeia Bardo 1: Där vi föll) and assassins (Killer: The Game of Assassination). For the gamer the context of game is accessible, but to a bystander the game might appear as a prank, a weird event or everyday reality. This friction of ludic and ordinary is an important source of ethical conflicts and opportunities, as a game can directly influence ordinary lives of the participants. (See Montola & Waern 2006a for discussion on unaware game participation). Surveillance is important for orchestration of most pervasive games. The sensory functions vary greatly, but they might include video surveillance (Prosopopeia Bardo 1: Där vi föll), player based reporting (Isle of Saints), cell phone positioning (Botfighters), GPS (Epidemic Menace 2) et cetera. The ethics of surveillance are relevant for the privacy of the player, but also it s important to avoid the surveillance of outsiders or bystanders. The purpose of this report is to open ethical discussion on what makes a pervasive game design feature acceptable or unacceptable from the ethical point of view. Thus, it can also be read as a guideline document for reflecting individual game designs. In the work leading to this report we have found out that many ethical issues described in here easily spark controversy. Apparently the most challenging, risky and unique ways of creating pervasive games also hold the potential for the most interesting artistic expression, the sharpest political commentary and the most engaging gaming experiences. We try to cover both permissive and restrictive arguments in this report without taking sides as such. Thus, there are few clear answers in this report, but rather some ethical guidelines for the use of the reader s own moral compass. The concepts and most of the game examples used in this report have been earlier discussed in an earlier IPerG report, D5.3B: The Domain of Pervasive Gaming (Montola, Waern & Nieuwdorp 2005), which is publicly available in Internet. Ethical issues have been touched earlier within IPerG at several occasions. D5.1 Initial Design and Evaluation Guidelines provided a few considerations, and the work on social adaptability and interaction design in D9.1 Guidelines for Socially Adaptable Games partially touched a couple of related issues. Pervasive gaming business ethics have been briefly discussed in D4.1 Business Guidelines. 1 This phenomenon, discussed earlier as interface ambiguity, stems from the fact that pervasive games are not played entirely inside the so-called magic circle of gameplay. Walking into a shop with Botfighters on in one s cellphone constitutes a game action, as the player s bot is moving in space even though the player s intent was not to perform game action but to go get some groceries. 5

6 This document does not discuss legislation and should not be used as legal advice. 2 Introduction to Ethics In this report, we discuss the ethics of the pervasive aspects of pervasive games in particular. Our discussion does not include ethics of gaming or ethics of pervasive applications, but is restricted to pervasive games only. As discussed in previous reports, games are needless and voluntary activities 2 (Huizinga 1938); this distinguishes games from other pervasive applications and poses particular ethical requirements. 2.1 Traditional Starting Points The basic starting point for all professional ethics is the question of the right action: what action in a given situation might be considered the right one and on what grounds. This underlying fundamental issue is reflected in approaches such as utilitarianism and deontology Utilitarianism The theoretical approach most notably put forth by Mill (1987) and Bentham (1982), utilitarianism relies on evaluating the consequences of actions. Utilitarianists hold that all ethical considerations should be based on calculating the utility of an act, which is the amount of good it produces, so that when faced with a moral dilemma, one must consider the consequences of each possible act and choose the one that produces the most good. This is the crudest form of utilitarianism aptly called the act utilitarianism. There are quite many problems associated with act utilitarianism. First off, predicting future consequences is very hard. Secondly, the biggest moral problems are often those that require instant decisions, but utilitarianism forces the agent to consider all the alternatives and calculate their consequences as far into the future as possible. Thirdly, although actutilitarianism might maximize goodness on individual situations, it might produce worse results if everyone were to act in certain act utilitarian ways. For instance, stealing money from a bank to help a family in need might maximize happiness in a single instance, but if everyone started doing it, the macro economical consequences would produce great amounts of unhappiness. Rule utilitarianism tries to address the two latter problems by stating that it is not the utility of an individual act that should be considered but the utility of a rule. If there is a rule that maximizes goodness when followed constantly, then it should be chosen. Although this would reduce the time needed to make decisions, this would still leave the utilitarian with one major problem: how to make good rules that address the needs of individual situations. For instance, a rule stating that one should never lie would need an exception that would allow lying in order save a life. This exception in turn might need an exception that would deny lying in situations where saving a life by lying would risk more lives, e.g. when one would lie to save a known murderer, and so on forth. This formulation of exceptions and sub rules can in fact reduce the rule utilitarianism back to the act utilitarianism as Lyons (1965, 137) has argued Deontology The other predominant traditional theory on right action is the deontology, a term and theory created by Kant (1998) in the 18 th century. If utilitarianism is teleological, then deontologism 2 Needless does not mean useless or worthless. Pervasive gaming offers many opportunities for education (Regensburg Explorer, Visby Under) and physical excercise (PacManhattan, Wanderer), for example. 6

7 might be considered as causal in its application: there are some a priori duties that always oblige one to act in a certain way regardless of the situation. Instead of looking at the consequences of the action, the agent should focus on the duties having relevance with the particular act. So, how does one know one's duties? For Kant, these were the product of the rational human mind. If a rational human would think about it hard enough, he could have no other choice but to come to a certain conclusion i.e. a rule Kant called the Categorical Imperative, which in one form stated that one should only act according to a rule that one could at the same time will to become a universal law. For Kant the Categorical Imperative imposed an unconditional duty to all individuals and was the basis for all other moral duties. The difference between deontology and utilitarianism is difference between the right and the good as Rawls (1980, 30) puts it. While utilitarianists argue that an act is right when it produces the most good, deontologists claim that an act may produce the most good even though it is clearly wrong by violating another person's universally acknowledged right or some other generally agreed upon ethical principle. So, deontological thinking is not dependent only on the considerations, but also on other issues. The question now becomes, what are these rights and principles and how can they be agreed upon by all the members of the society? Rawls' answer is the hypothetical concept of original position. He argues that if a group of rational people each acting as a representative for a group of citizens, were stripped of, for example, such information as the wealth, race and gender of the citizens they represent, they would choose a set of rights and principles that would also benefit those citizens that have the least in terms of talent or wealth. 2.2 Applied Ethics The problem of utilitarianism and deontology is that they are not concrete enough to be easily applicable to everyday moral dilemmas, that is, they are more concerned with creating a general theory of ethics instead of providing means to solve ethical problems. Applied ethics is specifically aimed at creating methodology for solving practical ethical issues. Before going further with the different approaches in applied ethics, it is necessary to go through two central notions in contemporary ethical discussions: rights and principles Rights and Principles Put simply, rights impose duties on other people or society to either act or refrain from acting in a certain way. If a right imposes a restraint on acting, then it is a negative right and when a right imposes a duty to act, it is a positive right. As an example, a right to life is a negative right, since it imposes a duty to restrain from acting in manner that would kill someone, and the right to social security is a positive right as it imposes a duty on society to provide social services to those in need. Rights can also be absolute, in which case it is always inviolable and should be respected regardless of any other considerations, or prima facie meaning that in some cases other rights might outweigh the right. In ethics a moral principle is a universal rule i.e. notion that defines a duty. Deontology and utilitarianism are monistic theories in that they rely on one single moral principle. The former's principle is the Categorical Imperative and the latter's the principle of utility. The methods in applied ethics are usually pluralistic defining a set of principles, which in turn can be either prima facie or absolute. 7

8 2.2.2 Principlism Beauchamp and Childress (2001) introduce four principles upon which the medical professionals could base their reasoning in moral dilemmas. Each of these principles is supposed to be prima facie, so that depending on the circumstances any principle could outweigh the other. These principles are: Respect for autonomy i.e. the duty to respect the right of every individual to make decisions regarding their own life. Beneficence i.e. the duty to try to do good to other people. Non maleficence i.e. the duty to not harm or offend other people. Justice i.e. the duty to treat all individuals equally in similar situations. The view purported by principlism is not an altogether unproblematic one. When a conflict between the principles occurs, the method can actually produce several different outcomes instead of a single correct one. Although not necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to confusion and dispute over the decision. The benefits of the four principles approach lie in the practicality and the usefulness of the method. As almost a checklist, it helps medical professionals to both identify the possible ethical conflicts and also provides a terminology to discuss them. One can argue whether the selected principles actually constitute the most important ones in healthcare professions, but as it often is in ethics, no single set can be selected with absolute certainty Communitarianism Principlism has been criticised for being overly individualistic by emphasizing autonomy as the key factor in ethical considerations. Although the four principles are supposed to be equally strong in preference, some critics have claimed that the other three principles are in fact more or less defined by autonomy. In the case of casuistry 3 this criticism has stemmed mostly from the fact that some western societies such as United States and Great Britain have a long history of individualistic preference. Communitarianism is a somewhat loose term for those philosophers and political scientists who emphasize the importance of the community over that of an individual. Communitarianism itself is not as much a method than criticism over the prevalent principles in both the casuistry and the principlism. For instance, Callahan (2003) notes that in case of an ethical problem, the questions should focus on its social meaning, implications, and context, even in those cases which seem to affect individuals only. Although the criticism raised by communitarians is often valid and well justified, it can make ethical problems more complex requiring even more professionalism from the reviewers and thereby rendering ethics out of reach for the practical everyday problems. 2.3 The Ethics of Technology Usage When technology is put to use, it affects individuals as well as the society as a whole. The value of those changes are typically judged in other terms than purely economical; Friedman (2004)) uses the term human values to represent ethical and moral values that people take into account when describing such changes. As there are large individual and cultural differences in how such values are described and judged, it can be debated (and has been debated) to what 3 See chapter

9 extent they are universal. However, as we can see from the debates arising around computer technology, it is still possible to provide terms and classifications that help us analyse the values embodied in a particular application design and its usage. Although such categorisations never become complete, they provide a common ground for analysis, standardisation, and debate. Starting in the analysis provided by Friedman, we can classify values that commonly are embodied by computer technology as privacy, accountability, (freedom of) bias, autonomy and universal access. We can start by noting that as games are voluntary and needless, the last one is less applicable to games than to most other computer applications. The impossibility to access a particular type of game may be frustrating but does not cause any secondary harm (e.g. limited access to central societal functions). Similarly, autonomy is de emphasised by the game rules; entering a game usually implies accepting to be bound by its rules. For games, the autonomy is relevant for player s ability to stop playing at any time; and even this is often compromised e.g. in team based games where the common good of the team may be dependent on players not quitting. As we will see in our case analysis, accountability, bias and privacy are central values in the ethics of pervasive games. As noted by Friedman, the actual technology used in an application will sometimes directly impact these values. More commonly however, the way the technology is distributed and its usage regulated is much more critical. In our analysis, we will not primarily analyse the technology as such, but the whole game setting, including the rules, the selection of players, and in particular the relationship between players and bystanders Privacy Privacy is a critical and delicate consideration for designing pervasive games, as the games may considerably intrude on both players and bystanders. As noted by many authors, privacy is primarily a socially regulated contract, where people regulate their openness about private issues depending on the social context. According to Allen (1996), there are three typically used dimensions as to how the concept of privacy is defined: physical privacy, meaning that people have the right to private physical space from where other people may be excluded (e.g. private toilets), informational privacy, meaning that a person has the right to control access to information about oneself (e.g. privacy of information on one's health), and decisional privacy, meaning that people have the right to exclude other people from the decisions concerning oneself (e.g. the decision to make an abortion). These dimensions of privacy are intertwined and overlapping on some situations. For instance, placing a hidden camera without her consent in a person's toilet would clearly violate her right to physical privacy, but also the right to informational privacy by violating her right to control access to sensitive information about herself. In the same way, physical and decisional privacies would be overlapping in a situation where a group of religious missionaries are forcefully trying to convert an atheist. 4 This is due to the claim (Montola, Waern & Nieuwdorp 2005) that pervasive games are not explicitly defined by the technology used, because pervasive experiences can be constructed without any computer equipment. 9

10 Informational privacy is regulated by the most legal systems in Europe (as in other parts of the world), in terms of unsolicited information solicitation and use. These laws typically rely on the informed consent for information sharing (Zevenbergen 2004). However, Grudin (2001) has argued that the major privacy problem with modern information technology is a lack of immediacy. The effects of information sharing are not obvious at the time of disclosure, and this harms the individual s ability to adapt their openness according to context. Bearing this in mind, supporting explicit privacy agreements (Ackerman et al 2001) is not a sufficient solution, as the immediacy may be compromised both by the explicit representation and lack of timing. Palen and Dourish (2003) provide a more useful basis for privacy negotiations by deconstructing the potential negotiation into three aspects: negotiation of content, negotiation of identity, and negotiation of time (past, present, and future solicitation and usage of information). Palen and Dourish s analysis makes it possible to restrict privacy negotiations to contexts that are naturally graspable. For ordinary, non pervasive games, the magic circle of gameplay and the decision to enter into or leave a game forms a natural and easily graspable boundary to which such contextual negotiations can be associated (Montola 2005). Both the solicitation and usage of information can be restricted to the game context. It is common for players to adopt a game identity, which exists solely within the gaming context. Finally, due to the voluntary and needless properties of a game, players will typically only accept that the game gathers such information that is needed to run the game. For example, players may agree to solicit personal data about their past, but only under the conditions that the data is shared only in the present (during the game) and under a temporal identity. For pervasive games however, the lack of a clearly defined boundary between the game and ordinary life compromises the ability to negotiate information disclosure both for players and non players. Physical privacy is probably the most problematic dimension in pervasive games. The structure of games as systems of rules where players are constantly required to make decisions in an artificial context will rarely create situations where one s decisional privacy could be intruded upon. Although fundamental, right to privacy is not absolute. In western legal tradition it is common to make an exception if the person in question could be seen to have given implicit consent, like in the case of active publicity seekers. A person s right to privacy can also be limited if she has no reason to expect privacy, for example in public places. Thirdly, privacy can be outweighed by other rights that are considered more important, such as the right to security. As mentioned previously, most privacy regulating laws also provide the option of signing privacy away. Looking at the different groups of people whose privacy can be violated in a pervasive game, there are at least players, aware spectators, unaware participants, and unaware spectators. There are some differences between these groups as to the types of ethical problems arise. The key distinguishing factor between these groups is clearly the awareness of the game. Both the players and the aware spectators have some understanding about the game i.e. its name, concept and so on forth, so that they have some idea what to expect. Players will also have to know at least part of the rules so that they should have even more reasonable expectations and also consent regarding the rules they have information of. Although seemingly unproblematic, the issue of consent can be rather complex in some pervasive games. Once participants have given their consent to the game by opting to play it, 10

11 their privacy protection could be considered void from the game in question. But this assumes that players have reasonable expectations on the nature and the content of the game. But in order to be able to give full and informed consent, the participant would have to know all the events and rules in the game before consenting. This of course is impossible with some games. One potential solution would be to allow players to quit the game once they run into a situation where they feel that their privacy has been or will be violated: This may happen for example in some alternate reality games based on this is not a game aesthetic, when the players may realize their participation in a game well after the game has started. In any case, the game designers and operators should never infringe privacy without sufficient and justifiable reason. The right to privacy of the aware spectators is higher than for players. Again, physical and informational privacy are primarily considered: the aware spectator will for example expect to be able to escape from the game to carry out private activities. Unaware participation and unaware spectatorship pose even higher challenges for game design. They cannot be seen to give any other consent than the possible implicit consent maybe given by entering a public space Accountability Following Friedman, we will use the term accountability to refer to an individual s responsibility for a given harm. In juridical systems, the ability to identify such individuals (or juridical persons including organisations and companies) forms the basis of providing retribution for harm (e.g. indemnity). Within the context of a game, such retributions are often part of the rules governing the game (e.g. the yellow and red cards used in soccer). In this report we mostly discuss psychological harm, as has been earlier done by e.g. Feinberg, Vandeveer and Ellis: Harms include lasting setbacks to one s assets, including physical and psychological setbacks. Offences include harms, but also minor, harmless nuisances. Ellis (1984) works on Feinberg s listing of offensive, but not necessarily harmful, nuisances, classifying them as: 1) Irritants to senses, 2) Excessively bad manners, 3) Flaunting one s contempt for people s values as an insult as well as pointless flaunting of one s contempt for people s values and 4) Indecency. Vandeveer (1979) points out that many offensive actions are offensive only to certain group, as dictated by traditions, beliefs or cultural identity. Thus, it s important to consider the needs of an average person ( almost anyone chosen at random ) as well as the needs of the minorities. Weighing the good of all versus the good of minority remains a question of reasonability, where no clear answers can be given. According to Feinberg, an individual is morally blameworthy for a harm if his or her actions caused the harm, and his or her actions were faulty ; that is, that the responsible person had either intended the harm, neglected the risk of causing harm, or failed to realise a risk for harm that he or she should have been able to realise. For computer applications as well as games, the individual s moral responsibility for a harm is lessened by the fact that there are a host of people involved in each activity; a game development project involves people in roles such as distributors and producers, sales representatives, managers, designers, and developers, and many people partake in a game event in a multitude of roles such as spectators, organisers, referees and players. In such complex and long term projects, where decisions are taken collectively in obscure processes, it will often be difficult to find individuals who fulfil the requirements above to be held 11

12 accountable. A specific problem for complex systems of software and hardware is the omnipresence of bugs; when a system becomes sufficiently complex it always contains bugs, no matter how conscientious and clever the programming staff has been. Who then can be held accountable for the effects of those bugs? When individuals cannot be held accountable, organisations (and sometimes non organised collectives) will often be informally (or even legally) blamed. This is in general not desirable, as it leads to guilt by association ; the blame rubs off to individuals of the organisation that were completely innocent in the matter at hand. For some organisations, the solution has been to appoint a single person who is officially responsible for the organisation; examples of this include ship captains and newspaper editors in chief. This practice is useful in fields where accidents are statistically bound to happen, and minimization requires strong concentration of power and responsibility. In a context of game, the responsible producer can only take responsibility of choices of designers and operators, but in games such as Prosopopeia Bardo 1: Där vi föll, the high unpredictability of player means that the responsible producer can t take the responsibility of every potential problem scenario. A distinct difference between game and non game activities is that within games, accountability is partly regulated within the rule set of the game. This is closely related to the fact that games occur in a magic circle, within which the rules are different from those of the social world outside of the game. What is considered an offence may be a vastly different thing within a game setting; ice hockey players and boxers execute harmful violence within the game that would lead straight to court if used outside the game. Secondly, even for actions that are considered offensive, the sanctions are regulated within the game context rather than by external authorities (legal or otherwise). If a soccer player intentionally trips another player, the accountable player will be punished within the game he will not be (typically) charged in a court. As we will see from our analysis of case examples, similar approaches can be used also in pervasive games. In pervasive games the players perception of the game rules may clash with what is considered legal or appropriate behaviour within the real world social context, and as the magic circle is blurred in many fashions, this becomes a very relevant concern. Speeding on the highway to catch up with another player is just as unlawful as speeding for any other reason (and, as games are voluntary and needless, may be considered even less morally acceptable). But from the player perspective, he or she may consider the accountability to lie with the game designer or game organiser, as they developed a rule set that rewarded speeding. Again, as with privacy clear player and participant agreements only partly alleviate the problem as they lack immediacy. In the heat of the game, it may be difficult to remember what responsibilities you have accepted as a player. In addition to harm and offence, a third important concept for thinking about accountability is risk. Even though drunk driving is harmless most of the time, it s considered unacceptable and punishable because it involves a small risk of significant harm to outsiders. Drunk driving is especially condemnable because it s harmful to individuals in the scale of the whole society: the harsh punishments are legitimate due to statistically large number of accidents caused by recklessness, even though the risk in a particular case (driving slowly in desolate area) might be very small. Understanding the risks of pervasive gaming is only possible after more large scale games are organized, as currently most of the occurring problems are isolated incidents. 12

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