CFP: “Ethical Inquiry through Video Game Play and Design,” DePauw University, Oct. 10-12

Ethical Inquiry through Video Game Play and Design: A Symposium
Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics
DePauw University
October 10-12, 2011

A growing number of designers and critics have demonstrated that games can mediate ethical inquiry through the simulation of moral choice and consequence. This concept of games as models for moral problems has motivated a search for ethical criteria that might guide the design and analysis of video games. The symposium will consider the claims that video games might serve as a platform for ethical inquiry, that they offer a new means of investigating social relations between human beings, and that their interactive capabilities allow them to act as mirrors for self-examination. How do video games promote ethical
positions? Can they enhance our ethical sensibility by simulating moral problems? Should simulated experience reinforce the ethical principles of real experience, or should it, as play, be allowed to transgress them?

Invited Speakers

Peter Molyneux has been creating video games for three decades, and invented the “god game” with Populous in 1989. As founder of Lionhead Studios, now a subsidiary of Microsoft Game Studios, he has developed a number of innovative and popular games that incorporate moral choice as a central aspect of play, including Black & White, Fable, and The Movies.

Michael Abbott is Associate Professor of Theater at Wabash College, where he has led the effort to add the video game Portal to the core curriculum. He writes lively and informed commentary on video game culture on his blog, The Brainy Gamer (

Edward Castronova is Professor of Telecommunications at Indiana University, where he established the Synthetic Worlds Initiative, a production team focused on creating online games to foster the teaching of political economy, history, and literature. His books
include Exodus to the Virtual World and Synthetic Worlds. He blogs at Terra Nova (

John Gosney is Faculty Liaison for Learning Technologies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, where he also teaches literature and American studies courses using novel pedagogies integrating computer gaming. His publications include Beyond Reality: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming.

Kathy Vrabeck has been a president at both Electronic Arts and Activision. She has also headed the digital division at Legendary Pictures, a partner in the production of films including The Dark Knight and Inception. She currently serves on the boards of Zeebo,
Inc. and GeekChicDaily (

Call for Proposals

We invite 250-word proposals for presentations addressing any ethical dimension of video games. We especially encourage perspectives on the potential for games to pose moral dilemmas and foster sharper ethical awareness. The proposal deadline is August 1, 2011. Seating and accommodations are limited. Registration is $75. Please direct inquires and proposals to Harry Brown at

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