Inspiring by the successful globalization of Nintendo
If you have read our previous blog, you must have read the blog about Nintendo. In that blog, we went deeply into the globalization of Nintendo, which is very successful in our points of view. As Nintendo is so successful in globalization, it has strong worldwide influences. This time, we are going to take all of you to another creative experience, the ethics in Virtual World.
If you take a closer look in the video game industry, you will find that the globalization of the whole industry is so successful. Sony (PlayStation), Nintendo, and Microsoft (Xbox), they are all famous brands. Youngsters are the ones who are in contact with video games the most, globalization brings different video games to this group of people all over the world. That means the young people worldwide can enjoy the video games offered by these three companies. It is not surprise that they will be highly influenced by the video game industry. This makes our group think of an issue: these three companies should be responsible for the development of the youngsters and the future .
People are now spending more and more time in the video games, to a point that, a virtual world is formed by thousands of video games. Some people even “live” longer in the virtual world than the real one. As a result, the virtual world is playing an essential role in human lives. What makes the virtual world so attractive? The excitement inside that world may be the true answer. And somehow, being the “god” inside that world is another contributing factor. We mean that people seem to have more power inside that world, for example, you can kill the dragons in the game, and you can be the hero in that world. People find it more easily to succeed. Or somehow, this phenomenon is due to the fact that you can do something you can't/won’t do in the real world. As more and more people are “living” in the virtual world, one issue really concerns us. This is, the ethical problems inside the virtual world. Or, you may refer to the Security problems of another world. The ethical problems, which will be mentioned in details later in this blog, are violence and murdering, pornography, and thefts and other criminals. Nowadays, there is no restriction on these issues mentioned in the virtual world. Who should be able to control in this area? Surely the three console development companies do. How? They can have control on putting or not some of the games in their consoles. This is the way the three companies can contribute on the ethical issues.
Nintendo's mission is “putting smiles on the faces of anyone who experiences our brands”. It is different from other two companies because its market segments are not the same as theirs. Nintendo has stronger influence on the younger generations because it uses some funny mini-games to attract the target markets. Therefore, it bears even more responsibilities on the young generations. Some people refer sustainable development as to ensure the resources our future generations enjoying to the same level that we are now enjoying (*1). However, our group thinks that, the future generations should be able to enjoy the same ethical world as the one that we are enjoying now. That means, although the world is developing with advanced technology and other improvements, people should not lose the right to enjoy the ethics we have now.
Referring to our topic, the number of virtual police is on demand. This is because the number of unethical games is rising in the markets. Owing to the fast technology development in the industry, unethical games become more and more realistic in the virtual world. This is our ethical concern.
The case of Nintendo – Unethical games
We are shocked that from most of the comments of our second blog, a great deal number of classmates grew with Nintendo. It seemed that our childhood couldn’t be without Nintendo. Even one of our teammates, Candy, who does not play video games now, owned a Game Boy when she was small. Until now, Nintendo still plays an important role in children’s lives. That’s why we said Nintendo had more responsibilities in children development earlier. However, Nintendo also put some games in its consoles that we perceive as “unethical”. We will look into them one by one.
1. Violence and Murdering
The first issue we would like to draw your attention is the violence and murdering issues in video games. Violence and murdering are considered as illegal in our real world, but they may be the routes to success in the virtual world. It is not a new topic in the video games that include some violence and killing. However, with the invention of Wii remote (Wiimote), it makes the experiences real. For example, you can use the Wiimote to be the gun and use it to shoot the enemies. (*2) In the above websites, you can see the Wii Zapper that can be served the crossbow. Nintendo invented many different kinds of remote to let the players enjoy the experiences. There are much more, such as the Wii wheel for racing games. It is not surprising that the remotes can be made to be as real as a gun for the shooting games. As a result, the people will feel like using a real gun to shoot the enemies. This also applies on other violence games, if people use the motion sensing Wiimote to hit the enemies in the games, they feel like they are really hitting someone. What if somebody cannot distinguish between the real world and virtual world? Or somebody finds the experiences of hitting someone or shooting someone so wonderful when they can kill the people that hinder their success? For some immature young people, they may not be able to distinguish if those are no right and practices in the real life. The consequence could be serious. Here's an example of violence game, ManHunt 2 of Wii.
Nintendo NDS and Wii both provide pornographic games which are very common in game industry. Wii is a very innovative product, which give unbound possibilities to game developers. Wii accompanies the virtual controller (Wii Remote,Nunchuk, etc) which allows game developers to build many ideas on it. Therefore, many of them are interested in the attractive Wii virtual controller (*3). We understand that Nintendo is a profit-making company that it needs to produce a variety of games to gain profits. But do we really need the category of Pornography in our game list? Although Nintendo targets on all walks of life, Females and Children are the majority of Nintendo NDS and Wii users. Actually, NDS & There is no doubt that the other game consoles company, like PS3 & Xbox360 also develop and release pornography games; however, the negative impacts of pornography games to the society outweighs the benefits creative game development has brought.
Sorry that we are not going to mention what pornography games that Nintendo have been released because these may lead to unpleasant feeling for the viewers. However, the impact of pornography games bring to society is more important than what have it brought.
Now, you can use Wii to download pornography games on-line. However, in fact, once Wii release pornographic game on-line, many parents have made a lot of complaints on them.(*4) “Pornography games are neither sex education nor tools of teaching about sex.” Pornography games cannot be regarded as sex education. Although Hong Kong is not a very conservative society, would it be suitable for children to play, or know about pornography games? Probably, children would be the first group of victims under development of pornography games.
3. Thefts and Other Criminals
Looking at the one of the most popular video games in this world, Grand Theft Auto (GTA), it is a legend in the video game history. Every time when a new version of GTA is out, the game-lovers are excited. This is because GTA is a game that full of excitement, or we should say, criminals. In this game, players play the role of a criminal, and through committing different crimes, the ranking of player rise. This game include some features such as prostitution, drunk-driving, murdering, and of course auto thefts. This game include so many things that people cannot perform in real world because they are illegal. However, they are the rules of game in GTA. GTA is also an example of benchmark for the similar games. It is going to be offered in Nintendo Dual Screen (NDS).
In the video, you can see that the game contains content like stealing cars, fighting against the police, killing people etc. There are also some skills that related to breaking the electronic locks or building a rifle. The use of pen in playing this game is so creative because no console supports this kind of tasks before. You can follow the instructions and perform the tasks by using the pen. This is really a funny way for the game developer. However, when a teenager finds this interesting and tries by himself, the game actually teaches him how to do it.
Effects and Consequences
“It is just a game,” some people may have this view, “why so serious about that, it is just for fun and excitement.” This may be true if people can really treat all these games as games.
Changing the ethical structure
People can perfom some tasks that they cannot do in the real world. In our real world, murdering, thefts, or other criminals are regulated and restricted by law. When we try to break the laws, we have to bare fines and serious consequences. Is that the same case in the virtual world? It is not at all. As we mentioned, players are required and therefore encouraged to commit such crimes. The games break the ethical values of people which have been rooted for years. Therefore, the concept of what is right and wrong loosens over time.
When somebody mixes up the two worlds
The problem worsens when some game-players cannot separate real world from virtual world. When people spend more time in the virtual world than the real one, the boundary between the two worlds become blurred. A good example is buying the virtual items in the games by using real money. This not just gives a value to the virtual items, but also lets the virtual world invade the real world. So, if the invasion continues, there may be others boundaries being destroyed. “Theft is not a big deal, I always behace like this when playing games, and my friends always steal my items too.” This may happen as the players mix up the virtual world with the real world. They think stealing things is so normal because they do this daily in the games.
Adding to this point, the quality of the games has risen a lot. Therefore, the virtual world became more realistic and similar to the real world. As a result, it is easier for the people to mix the virtual world with the real one. Wii and NDS of Nintendo even made the experiences real by using the Wiimote and pen as stated earlier, that’s how people experience the true excitement in games.
You may argue that this seems to be unrealistic, and only a few of them will mix up the two worlds. In US, there were a lot of campus-shooting cases. We cannot be sure that the cases are related to the virtual world. However, when people face shooting sense often, it reminds them when you face enemies; you can use this method to solve the problem. It may be a reason for the increasing cases of campus murdering. Although in Hong Kong, owning a gun is difficult, but stealing and fighting may also be encouraged.
How about pornography?
In Hong Kong, there is restriction on the access of pornography on internet for people who are under 18 (*6). How about video games? None! Youngsters are difficult to get reach of the pornographic magazines or discs. However, after the invention of Internet, people can reach to these kinds of information easily. Take YouTube as an example, for materials that cannot be accessed by 18 or under, you can just create an account and confirm you are above 18. Then you have the right to watch the videos. So as the games, if you download the games from the Internet, no one will know what your real age is. For people at the age of puberty, they are curious about the issue and want to know and try more. The games can be a media for them to fulfill their curiosity. Therefore, they may try to download the games from the websites. I can see children at 10 can own a NDS or Wii. The games related to pornography may cause children to early sex, and sexual harassment.
Why Nintendo engaged in the unethical games promotions?
It is not Nintendo's objective to bring so many negative effects (by the unethical games) to the society, so why Nintendo includes these kinds of games in its consoles?
Market demand is one of the main reasons. For example, GTA, mentioned earlier, is a game that produces huge profits. As a result, in order to gain competitiveness in the market, Nintendo want to include many of the profitable games. Nearly all of the GTA series in Xbox and PlayStation placed at the best-selling video games. So it seems attracting for Nintendo to include these kinds of games in order to gain more profits.
However, in order to bring smile to people, Nintendo supported only healthy games in the past. If you check the best-selling games of Nintendo: (*7)You will know that people are not looking for these games in Nintendo. Is it really worth for Nintendo to take this risk but may damage the organizational image? It is still a question.
Another reason is no limitation for creativity. Nintendo started the new, creative way of playing games. Therefore, it tried to include as many creative playing methods as possible. The current games of Nintendo cannot fully utilize the features of Wii and NDS. Therefore, Nintendo hoped to include more creative games that can make use of the motion-sensing feature and touch screen.
Tthis is the argument of Creativity and Commercial with Ethics. Nintendo is now leading the creativity sectors of video game development. And the world of creativity still has a lot of spaces to explore. If the creative playing methods can bring Nintendo with good profits, this is the result the company wants to have. Nintendo has put its social image at risk in order to fight for profits. This may bring negative effects to the company. Nintendo has its competitive advantages because of the organizational image. When parents want to buy video games for their children, they will consider if the games bring negative effects to the growth of their children. Nintendo won the heart of parents as we can see most of the children are holding a NDS but not a PSP. What if Nintendo includes more and more violence, criminal games, for sure parents will no longer view Nintendo as a good brand for their children.
Creative is essential for the video game development, but on the other hand, ethics is also very important for an organization so as to be social responsible. Nintendo tries to damage the ethically sustainable world for children and our future generations. This may be a worst move for Nintendo.
Moreover, the degree on emphasizing ethics keeps rising these days. In the past, Nintendo could still neglect the importance of ethics since it was not common to concern about no matter in the artistic industry, scientific industry or business industry, etc (*16). However, in this century, the general public is so aware of the ethics issues that no industries can skip the considerations of ethics. Consequently, it seems that there is no excuse and no advantage for Nintendo not to conduct the business in a more ethical way; otherwise it may take a risk of a decline business owing to its ignorance of community benefits.
If you refer to the Journal of Private Enterprise (*17) , author used three people's characters to talk about moral and ethics. Our group thinks that Nintendo is now Tonya that applies predatory ethic. While Nintendo gets benefits from introducing the games we mentioned above, some people suffer because of the losing of future ethical sustainability. Therefore, it is gain-at-the-expense-of-others. Nintendo may position itself as Carly, the prototypical type of ethic, which relates none with the ethical development of the world. This is not a responsible global business practice because as stated in the beginning of our blog, Nintendo has great influences on the young generations worldwide. We do understand that, as a business, it is not possible to be Jane that apply the altruistic ethic, i.e. keeping the least benefits for self but concerning the whole society in the first priority. However, Nintendo can try to be more responsible for the whole world and move from Tonya or Carly to a more Jane person. We have made some suggestions for Nintendo and also for other parties in the world later in this blog.
Assumptions on human nature
We believe that there are a number of kinds of people in the world; they are moral, immoral, amoral or relativist. Moral people are born good, innate moral nature; immoral people are bad, innate immoral nature; amoral people are neither moral inborn nor immoral inborn, their actions or reactions are due to the survival, practicality, etc. Relativistic people become moral or immoral depending on norms and values of the society and situation.
People with different human natures have varied reactions towards the same situations. In this case, moral video game players are originally pure and innocent, they may be negatively influenced since they have begun playing unethical games. Immoral players are born to like playing bloody, pornography, and violent games therefore they may have great demand of these games. On the other hand, the immoral game developers may be born to love creating these games or produce them according to the players’ preferences. Amoral players do not possess inclination to morality and immorality about the games. To them, they are solely games, a kind of entertainment – virtual world is separated from the real world. For relativistic players, they react morally or immorally depending on different situations.
Approaches for ethical decision –making (*8)
Facing ethical dilemmas, we have several ways to handle, such as Utilitarian, Moral Rights, Universalism and Cost-Benefit. In this case, we have adopted two of them: the Utilitarian approach and the Moral Right approach.
Universalism approach emphasizes to take action which will lead to the greatest result for the greatest number. We do think that Nintendo, as a multinational corporation, it should balance its interests as well as the society’s benefits. Also, it’d better for Nintendo to determine whether producing and selling these games would result in the greatest good.
There is no doubt that those unethical games do lead to considerable sales and profits for Nintendo. Yet it should also consider the impacts brought to the majority in the world. The games are full of negative messages - pornography and violence – which subconsciously influence the players’ mindsets. Although the adults are supposed to be mature to differentiate right or wrong, the young players may not be able to do so. As a result, they may think that what they do in the virtual world is also appropriate to perform in the real world - they do not need to pay for any misconduct. However, it is not true at all. Unsurprisingly, this may cause a rise in crime over the world. For instance, it may result in bad social influence like thefts, murders, violence in the campuses.
Therefore, considering the greatest good for the great number of people, Nintendo should not produce those immoral games since they bring poor influence to the players especially the youngsters over the world while solely Nintendo can benefit from the high sales and profits.
For another approach, Moral Rights focus on moral principles instead of the consequences. That is, even if the consequence is very desirable, since the action is immoral, it should not continue.
Applying to this case, it is a fact that the high sales of the games are extremely attractive to Nintendo. However, they do deliver negative messages (which harm the teenagers in the ways as mentioned above) to players that are not moral at all. Since gaining promising revenue from those games is an inadequate defense for its action, it should avoid selling the games especially to immature players.
We think that it is an issue not only for Nintendo but also all of us.
Parents should guide their children how to use game consoles. Many parents buy game consoles to their children as presents. However, after that, some parents do not care what types of game their children are playing, which may be unethical. In effect, many parents even do not care how much time their children would have spent on the game console. Parents/Public overlooks the consequences of those games, or even they do not know about them. They should be more aware on this issue, which is directly related to their children growth.
2. Nintendo …(Game console, Game developer)
Nintendo should implement some measures to prevent children from accessing unethical games, to satisfy its customers' (parents') expectations. Nintendo has provided Parental Control Settings (*9) in their games consoles. This setting is based on the Entertainment Software Rating Board ("ESRB") (*10) game rating categories. However, the function is automatically off. If parents do not know this function, it is useless. On the other hand, it seems that Nintendo puts the responsibility to parent. For NDSs, only the newly released NDSi has parental control setting (*11). Nintendo seemingly starts doing something on this issue, but have Nintendo considered not to release those games? "Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent. It sales is proof of utility and utility is success" (*12), the only thing that Nintendo can do is keep modifying to cope with ethic issue, to diminish the consequence.
At the time Nintendo put unethical games on her company website, it encourage children to play. (*13) It would be impossible to stop releasing unethical games like other game developers. These types of category are quite favorable in the market, and it can bring huge profits to game industry. However, if Nintendo cannot stop releasing those games, it must put effort on preventing children from playing those games. At least if Nintendo really want to prevent children from playing those game, how about remove the cover of those game before asking their birthday, or ask when visitor first access to Nintendo website? After Nintendo has raise the interest of children then tell them they not are suitable to play, that is too late!
Unlike articles and media, video games in Hong Kong almost are not subject to regulation. Video Game issues are relying on game industry's self-disciple. Besides, in Hong Kong there is no rating system for video game. Other countries' rating systems are not applicable and authorized.
UK has imposed rating system for video games, yet some still think is not enough. (*14)What the Hong Kong government has done on video games is almost nothing. It should implement a rating system, or apply other country’s rating system for video games. It is irrational that only video games do not have a rating system.
We think there should be a rating for video games and PC games. Apart from establishing rating systems, providing comprehensive education to children is also important. Children now can easily download games from the internet, which is hardly be monitored. Providing education to them would be better - letting them differentiate the virtual world and the real world, what they can do in virtual world is different from real world.
4. United Nations
Establishing a world while rating system. Since there are different regions, various rating systems for video games are established. For example, US[ESRB], UK[BBFC], Japan[CERO]….(*15). And the standards of different rating system are also varied. To illustrate, a game may define as 17+ in one country, but it may be 12+ in other countries. Moreover, some games only have rated from one rating system, and different rating systems are not transferable. US[ESRB] restrict website releasing unethical games, they must ask the visitor birthday first. However, Japan[CERO] does not require websites to do so.
In some cities like Hong Kong, rating system is not available. Therefore, establishing a universal rating system for video game can help people define rating of video games, and put rating system to be enforceable to different countries.
*1. Michael K. and Vic D. (2009). The link between ethics and innovation. Retrieved
November 30, 2009, from
*2. Unknown. (2009). How do I use it? Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://www.nintendo.com/wii/what/accessories/zapper/howdoiuseit
*3. David S. (2009). Coming soon to Nintendo’s Wii: virtual pornography. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/the-game-guy/the-game-guy/2007/01/coming-soon-to-nintendos-wii-virtual-pornography/
*4. Ludwig K. (2007). Wii used as 'porn gateway', hilarity ensues. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://www.joystiq.com/2007/01/11/wii-used-as-porn-gateway-hilarity-ensues/
*5. SBARTSTV. (2009). Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Trailer #2 HD Nintendo DS 1. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rZRenk-N8g
*6. Unknown. (2009). Review of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://www.coiao.gov.hk/entxt/faq.htm
*7. Unknown. (2009). List of best-selling video games. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_selling_games#Nintendo
*8. Unknown. (n.d.). Approaches to ethical decision making. Retrieved November 19,
2009 from http://www.poznaklaw.com/articles/bizethics.htm
*9. Unknown. (2009). Wii – Parental Controls. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from
*10. Unknown. (2009). Entertainment Software Rating Board. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://www.esrb.org/index-js.jsp
*11. Unknown. (2009). Information For Parents. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://www.nintendo.com/corp/parents.jsp
*12. Kirsten E. (2008). Innovation, Ethics, and Business. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://www.darden.virginia.edu/corporate-ethics/pdf/innovation_ethics.pdf
*13. Unknown. (2009). Guide at Nintendo – Games. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://www.nintendo.com/games/guide#qhardware=Wii%2CDS&qesrbRating=&qplay=&qgenre=other%2Cstrategy%2Csports%2Clife%20training%2Cadventure%2Cpuzzles%2Cracing%2Crpg&qrelease=&panel=qgenre&sortBy=title
*14. Mark A. (2008). TIGA responds to Byron Review. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/tiga-responds-to-byron-review
*15. Unknown. (n.d.). Video game content rating system. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_rating
*16. Unknown. (2009). In What Ways should Ethics come into Creativity?. Retrieved November 6, 2009 from http://leaderswedeserve.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/in-what-ways-should-ethics-come-into-creativity/
*17. Stephen R.C. (2009). What Business Ethics Can Learn fomr Entrepreneurship. The Journal of PRIVATE ENTREPRISE, 24(2), 49-57. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://leaderswedeserve.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/in-what-ways-should-ethics-come-into-creativity/