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Ethics & Gaming Syllabus

Games are communities and games are part of our public, our society, and our culture – and as such, the play and creation of them have ethical implications. I have three main goals with this course. First, the goal is to help foster the practice of ethical thinking by using the popular, relevant medium of games. Two, many of the students who take this course want to be game developers or designers and I want to help them cultivate an interest in and habit of also asking ethical questions when making and distributing games, in addition to asking design, technical, artistic, and business questions. Three, I also hope that students develop a greater understanding for the cultural and social implications of games, and how ethical questions around games pervade and influence our everyday lives. In other words: as grapple with the ethical ramifications of our creation and play of games, we may start to also disentangle broader questions about humanity and how we should all live together.

Image by Celine Diaz

Image by Celine Diaz


The AbleGamers Charity, Accessible Player Experience (APX) Cards,

ADL, (2020) Free to Play? Hate, Harassment and Positive Social Experiences in Online Games 2020,

Benjamin, R.,  (2019) Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code, Medford, MA: Polity.

Benjamin, R. (2019). Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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Bogost, I., Ferrari, S. & Schweizer, B. (2010). Newsgames: Journalism at Play, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

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Butt, M. & Dunne, D. (2017). Rebel Girls and Consequence in Life is Strange and the Walking Dead, Games and Culture, 14(4): 430-449.

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Clark, N. & Lantz, F. (2020). Naomi Clark: Why Tom Nook symbolizes village debt in 18th century Japan,

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FairPlay Alliance & ADL, (2020). Disruption and Harms in Gaming Framework,

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Ferguson, C. (2018). It’s time to end the debate about video games and violence,

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Flanagan, M., Nissenbaum, H., Belman, J., & Diamond, J. (2007). A method for discovering values in digital games. 752-760. Paper presented at 3rd Digital Games Research Association International Conference: Situated Play, DiGRA 2007, Tokyo, Japan.

Grace, L. (2019). Introduction, Love and Electronic Affection: A Design Primer, New York, NY: Routledge / Taylor and Francis.

Grace, L. (2019). Doing Things with Games: Social Impact through Play, New York, NY: Routledge/CRC,

Gray, K. (2020). Intersectional Tech: Black Users in Digital Gaming, Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana University Press.

Gray, K. & Leonard, D. (Eds.). (2018). Woke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social Injustice, Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

Gray, K., Voorhees, G. & Vossen, E. (2018). Feminism in Play, Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Greenfield, R. (2013). The Ethics of the Candy Crush Pusher, The Atlantic,

Jamieson, P., Grace, L, Mizuno, N.,Bell, C., & Davis, D. (2016). A Simple Multiplayer Video Game Framework for Experimenting and Teaching Cultural Understanding. In Proceedings of the 20th Academic Mindtrek (Tampere, Finland, October 17-19, 2016). ACM, New York, NY.

King, D. & Delfabbro, P. (2019). Video Game Monetization (e.g., ‘Loot Boxes’): a Blueprint for Practical Social Responsibility Measures, International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 17: 166-179.

Kocurek, Carly A. (2019) Why we scapegoat video games for mass violence and why it’s a mistake, Washington Post,

Kowert, R. (2020). State of the Research: Toxicity in Games and Gaming Culturers,

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LaPensee, E. & Emmons, N. (2019). Indigenizing Education with the Game When Rivers Were Trails. Amerikastudien/American Studies. 64(1), 75-93.

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Noble, Safiya U., Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, New York, NY: NYU Press.

Noddings, N., (2013) Caring, A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education, Updated. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Prescott, A., Sargent, J. and Hull, J. (2018). Metaanalysis of the relationship between violent video game play and physical aggression over time, PNAS, 115(40): 9882-9888,

Przybylski, A. & Weinstein, N. (2019). Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents’ aggressive behavior: evidence from a registered report, Royal Society Open Science,

Roozenbeek, J. & van der Linden, (2020). Breaking Harmony Square: A game that “inoculates” against political misinformation, Misinformation Review, November 6, 2020,

Ruberg, B. (2020). Empathy and Its Alternatives: Deconstructing the Rhetoric of “Empathy” in Video Games. Communication, Culture, & Critique. 13(2020), 54-71.

Salen, K. & Zimmerman, E. (2003). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Schrier, K. (2019). Designing Ourselves: Identity, Bias, Empathy & Game Design, ADL Whitepaper,

Schrier, K. & Gibson, D (Eds.) (2009), Ethics & Game Design: Teaching Values Through Play. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Schrier, K. & Gibson, D. (2010). Designing Games For Ethics: Models, Techniques, & Frameworks, Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Schrier, K. (2015). Knowledge Games: How Playing Games Can Solve Problems, Create Insight, and Make Change, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Schrier, K. (2018). Using Games to Inspire Empathy - Pros and Cons, Gamasutra,

Schrier, K. (2018) How We Can Use Games to Understand Others Better,

Schrier, K., (2019). Introduction, Learning Education and Games, Vol 3, Pittsburgh, PA: ETC Press,

Schrier, K. (2019). Would You Kindly Parent? In L. Grace, Love and Electronic Affection, Love and Electronic Affection: A Design Primer, New York, NY: Routledge / Taylor and Francis.

Schrier, K. (2021). We the Gamers: How Games Teach Ethics & Civics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Schulzke, M. (2009). Moral Decision Making in Fallout, Game Studies, 9(2),

Shafer-Landau, R. (2020). Fundamentals of Ethics, 5th Edition, London: Oxford University Press.

Sicart, M. (2013). Beyond Choices: The Design of Ethical Gameplay. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Sicart, M. (2019). Papers, Please, in E. Payne & N. Huntemann, Eds., How to Play Video Games, New York: NYU Press.

Sicart, M. (2009). The Ethics of Computer Games. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Smalley, K. (2016). “Undertale and Immanuel Kant: Ethics in Video Games,” Pop Matters,

Tiltfactor Labs, Values @ Play Grow-a-Game Cards,

Tiltfactor Labs Games,

Xiao, L. & Henderson, L. (2019). Towards an Ethical Game Design Solution to Loot Boxes: A Commentary on King and Delfabbro, International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction,

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