Roskilde Universitet
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4000 Roskilde

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Chris Holmsted Larsen

Tlf: 46 74 38 08
Kim Christian Schrøder


FMKJ er en national forskerskole, der:
• Arrangerer ph.d.-kurser på
- internationalt niveau,
• Er vært for internationale
- gæsteforskere,
• Uddeler stipendier til skolens
- studerende,
• Har indstillingsret til
- Forskningsrådet for Kultur og
- Kommunikation.

Games Research and Ethics: Current Issues, Possible Resolutions / with Charles Ess

Sponsored by The Danish National Research School in Media, Communication and Journalism (FMKJ), the Department of Information- and Media Studies (IMV), Aarhus University, and the (U.S.) National Science Foundation.


Organizer: Charles Ess


October 25-26, Aarhus, Denmark.  (Venue to be announced)


Contact: Charles Ess <>: Beatrice Gamborg (workshop administrative assistant) <>


Course objectives and content


The rapid development of computer-based / networked games in all their forms has inspired growing research into a range of questions, from concerns about potential social impacts (e.g., violence in games such as Grand Theft Auto) to interest in how player groups in such MMOGs as World of Warcraft resemble and differ from other online communities.


At the same time, computer games thus evoke new sorts of ethical challenges for researchers.  For example, a central research ethics question – especially in Europe with its strict laws protecting personal information – is: What are the obligations, if any, of the researcher to protect the identity and confidentiality of her research subjects? This concern becomes especially tricky, say, for an ethnographer who records voice chats of guild players in a MMOG.  While texts from a text chat may be paraphrased so as to protect the identity of their authors in a published research report – manipulating voice recordings in analogous ways may not be so easy.  Can the ethnographer safely publish these as part of her research, or is she ethically obliged to disguise or conceal this part of her research for the sake of protecting the confidentiality of her subjects? 


The goal of the workshop is to explore the novel ethical difficulties facing those undertaking games research – and this in a two-fold way.


1. The course includes two panels of presentations – open to interested internet researchers and scholars, including participants in the AoIR conference in Gothenburg the previous week – by leading scholars and researchers on games and games research ethics:


Elizabeth Buchanan (Director, Center for Information Policy Research (CIPR), and chair, AoIR ethics working group)

Mia Consalvo (Visiting Professor, MIT, and current President, AoIR)

Malin Sveningsson (University of Skövde, Sweden)

Annette Markham (Senior Research Fellow, Internet Research Ethics, CIPR, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), and 

Miguel Sicart (IT-University, Copenhagen, and author of The Ethics of Computer Games, MIT Press, 2009).


These presentations will provide an overview of contemporary understanding and reflection on central ethical and methodological issues in games research.


2. The workshop encourages PhD students (who attend the workshop under the sponsorship of FMKJ) to contribute their current research and specific ethical challenges in an “extended master class,” constituted by an informal paper/poster-session designed to catalyze dialogue and debate with the invited presenters. PhD students will be asked to submit either a paper or poster. Students will be assigned to a working group of no more than 3 students plus one or two of the senior workshop presenters.  Each student will have 10 minutes to present his/her paper/poster, followed by comments from a designated respondent. The attending senior scholar(s) will then offer additional comments and continue open discussion, for a total time of 1.5 hours. If enough students participate, you will also be able to attend / audit a second such class.


In these ways, we anticipate that PhD students will receive useful advice and guidance – and that you in turn will contribute your work from the praxis of your research to the reflections and frameworks continuously being developed by the invited presenters.


Course registration

In order to register for the course, you should send an email to Beatrice Gamborg (workshop administrative assistant) <> by October 1 2010. You should also attach a 1-page description of your PhD project. Ph.d. students wishing to present a paper or a poster, must also submit their paper/poster by this date. You are welcome to contact either Charles Ess ( or Kirsten Frandsen, Head of PhD study programme: for additional information. Maximum number of PhD participants: 20.

The morning presentations on Monday and Tuesday (25-26. October – see preliminary schedule below), are open to interested scholars and researchers, including those attending the AoIR annual conference the previous week in Gothenburg, Sweden. 

Registration for general audience

Those interested in attending the open presentations are required to register via email with Beatrice Gamborg (workshop administrative assistant) <> by October 1 2010.  Registrants will be assessed a fee to cover catering costs (fee to be determined).

Course Requirements and ECTS points

Participation in the course requires two kinds of preparation: readings that address each of the presentations in the course, and a 10-page paper or poster-session equivalent that you must submit by October 1 2010. The paper / poster presentation should outline your doctoral project, with particular reference to the research design and its methodological challenges. The course readings will be available by late September 2010.

ECTS points

1.5 ECTS for participation without presenting a paper / poster.
1.5 ECTS for presenting a paper / poster – i.e., 3 ECTS possible.


The Danish National Research School in Media, Communication and Journalism (FMKJ) will cover all expenses for Ph.D. students who are enrolled in the School. Ph.D. students who are not enrolled in FMKJ will have to pay for their own travel, accommodation, and meals while in Aarhus.



Preliminary Program


Monday 25. October



Coffee / tea / refreshments


Introduction to workshop – charles


Elizabeth Buchanan – Research Ethics 2.0


Miguel Sicart – Games and Research Ethics


Coffee / tea / refreshments


Malin Sveningsson – “Going Native” in World of Warcraft: what’s the problem(s)?




Extended Master Class (Paper/ Poster sessions with individual PhD students in dialogue with senior scholars)

(coffee, tea, refreshments available by 14:00)


Coffee / tea / refreshments


Closing plenary discussion (charles moderates)


Rest / relaxation





Tuesday, 26. October



Coffee / tea / refreshments


Reminders / springboards – Charles


Annette Markham – methods and ethics in games research


Mia Consalvo – Researchers and Developers: Ethical Reflections from the Field


Coffee / tea / refreshments


Closing plenary discussion: lessons learned, remaining questions, unsolved issues, next steps?


Lunch / evaluation / goodbye

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