Within this introduction the basic definitions will be introduced that will be expanded upon later in this analysis.
Ethics is the study of what is morally "good" or bad, "right" or "wrong" (Cahn, 2001). It deals essentially with ought to be rather than what should be, and thus is concerned less what factual knowledge than with a consideration in a moral sense of what is occurring within a situation. The kind of ethics that will be most applied within this study is applied ethics, that is the application of so-called "normative" theories to actual situations. Normative ethics attempts to find an absolute standard of right and wrong, and thus tended, until recently, to be divorced somewhat from the real world (Bonhoeffer, 1995). Applied ethics takes these norms, for example, the idea that "violence in computer games is harmful to children playing them" and attempts to make an ethical statement about them. Thus the applied ethical standard in this case would be, "violence in computer games is ethically wrong".
A cursory look at this definition raises some interesting questions regarding "violence" in video games. Are any violent acts actually committed when someone is playing a video game or are they acts of simulated violence Indeed, the only exact correlation between what exists in a video game and the above definition may in #6 and this, as shall be explored, may in fact be a positive aspect of the playing of video games.
The definition of video game is fairly simple. It is a game "played" on either a computer screen or television screen in which a person (or persons) interact with the game through some kind of peripheral device such as a keyboard/mouse in a traditional computer game, or a controller in the dedicated video game consoles such as the Playstation and X-Box which now dominate the market.
This study will examine, in an applied ethical manner, the rights and wrongs of violence within computer games. It will first consider briefly the history of video games vis--vis the violence in them. Next it will consider arguments against computer game violence and then those that support the idea that the experience may actually be beneficial rather than harmful to the player(s) of the game. The study will end with a consideration of how violence in video games is likely to develop in the coming years.
1.2 The History of Video Games: Violent and Otherwise
The history of video games may be traced back to 1948, when the idea of the video game was patented by Thomas Goldsmith and Estle Mann (De Maria, 2003). Ten years later, William Higginbotham's Tennis for Two became the first video game that was displayed to the public, but it was only in 1972 that the Magnavox Odyssey became available as the first