“Representation, Enaction, and the Ethics of Simulation” – Simon Penny

In “Representation, Enaction, and the Ethics of Simulation,” Simon Penny argues that the relationship between a player and an on-screen avatar is interactive in such a way that any simulation becomes the potential training ground for real-world actions, and that as a result, consideration to the ethics of simulation (video game) content is as important consideration in the production of interactive media. Penny argues this by assertig three central claims:

  • “physical imitation is a key component to social development”
  • “social behaviors are often learned without conscious intellectual thought”
  • “physical experience does not simply disambiguate, it is the key by which images are understood” (74, 79).

Thus, following this logic, Penny suggests that players can subconsciously learn to mimic those bodily enacts they experience through game simulations. Penny goes on to argue that while the game industry would like consumers to believe games are harmless, psychotherapists and he military emply simulations “precisely because they have effect in people’s lives,” and that the only difference between the military or psychotherapists use of simulations and of video games is the player’s location of play: “What separates the first person shooter from the high-end battle simulator is the location of one in an adolescent  bedroom and the other in a military base” (75, 76). Given this, Penny stresses the importance of questions what it is particular games are training players to do – or, alternately, to consider the answer to this question during the initial-stages of game development (76). 

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