Game mechanics and technological mediation: an ethical perspective on the effects of MMORPG’s

Christian Klemm, Wolter Pieters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
103 Downloads (Pure)


In the past decades, video games have grown from a niche market to one of the major entertainment media, enticing millions of players worldwide. When ethical aspects of video games are being debated, the discussion oftentimes revolves around effects of their content, such as violence. This paper argues that effects of game mechanics, such as reward mechanisms, should be considered as well, as these are at the core of the appeal of games. We analyze the ethical dimension of behavioral game design present in Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG’s). Using the framework of technological mediation, we show how opaque and seductive game mechanics can invite problematic usage patterns, such as excessive use with negative effects on well-being, and how designers can take responsibility for morally acceptable impact of their games. Having a practical focus, the paper concludes with several proposals for better design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-93
Number of pages13
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Behavioral design
  • Choice architecture
  • Design ethics
  • Game mechanics
  • Technological mediation


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