Christopher Bartel

Jan 14, 2023

Video Games, Violence, and the Ethics of Fantasy

Killing Time

Bloomsbury Publishing 2020

Is it ever morally wrong to enjoy fantasizing about immoral things? Many video games allow players to commit numerous violent and immoral acts. But should players worry about the morality of their virtual actions? A common argument is that games offer merely the virtual representation of violence. No one is actually harmed by committing a violent act in a game. So, it cannot be morally wrong to perform such acts. While this is an intuitive argument, it does not resolve the issue.

Focusing on why individual players are motivated to entertain immoral and violent fantasies, Christopher Bartel's book Video Games, Violence, and the Ethics of Fantasy: Killing Time (Bloomsbury, 2020) advances debates about the ethical criticism of art, not only by shining light on the interesting and under-examined case of virtual fantasies, but also by its novel application of a virtue ethical account. Video games are works of fiction that enable players to entertain a fantasy. So, a full understanding of the ethical criticism of video games must focus attention on why individual players are motivated to entertain immoral and violent fantasies.

Video Games, Violence, and the Ethics of Fantasy engages with debates and critical discussions of games in both the popular media and recent work in philosophy, psychology, media studies, and game studies.

Rudolf Inderst is a professor of Game Design with a focus on Digital Game Studies at the IU International University of Applied Science, editor of “Game Studies Watchlist”, a weekly messenger newsletter about Game Culture and curator of @gamestudies at tiktok.

Listen to more episodes on:

Your Host

Rudolf Thomas Inderst

Rudolf Inderst is a professor of Game Design at the IU International University of Applied Science.

Learn More