Ethics and digital games

Project overview

New ethical issues are constantly arising as the digital games industry continues to grow. Developers, players, and academics are faced with difficult questions of how to understand and address controversial in-game content, design mechanics and player behaviours amid rapid technological and socio-political changes.

This project engages with these pressing issues by integrating insights from a range of disciplines, including game studies, sociology, philosophy, and game design. Our goal is to better define and understand the overlapping norms and values that develop around digital gameplay. In turn, we aim to clarify what it means to play and design ethical games in ways that benefit both players and the industry.

Key areas of research include:

  • Player interactions in multiplayer games
  • Griefing, toxicity and harassment
  • In-game content and depictions
  • Ethics in game design
  • Emerging ethical issues in virtual reality games

Project team

Contact details


Sparrow, L. A., Antonellos, M., Gibbs, M., & Arnold, M. (2020). From ‘Silly’ to ‘Scumbag’: Reddit discussion of a case of groping in a virtual reality game. In Proceedings of the 2020 Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA’20).

Sparrow, L. A., Allison, F., Gibbs, M., & Arnold, M. (2020). Productive distrust: Playing with the player in digital games. Paper presented at the 2020 Digital Games Research Association Australia (DiGRAA’20), Feb 2020, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Sparrow, L. A., Gibbs, M., & Arnold, M. (2019). Apathetic villagers and the trolls who love them: Player amorality in multiplayer digital games. In Proceedings of the 31st Australian Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (OzCHI'19), Dec 2019, Fremantle, WA, Australia. DOI: 10.1145/3369457.3369514