Ethics in unexpected situations: the role of serious games

Ethics in unexpected situations: the role of serious games
ORT France
It may happen that individuals sincerely wishing to adopt an ethical behaviour, are confronted
to unexpected situations characterized by moral dilemmas, i.e. situations in which they must
arbitrate between conflicting moral principles.
Example 1: You are sitting in the car of your best friend whom you consider as your brother
Driving very fast, your friend hits a pedestrian and kills her, continues to drive until he is sure
to be safe, and then drops you. Will you denounce him to the police?
Example 2: the building in front of you is on fire. On the third floor on your left a family of
four is on the balcony asking for help. On the same floor on your right your love is also on her
balcony asking you to save her. You have a ladder that can enable either the family of four or
your love to escape, but there is no time for using that ladder twice: the building will have
entirely burnt. Where are you going to put the ladder?
A quite important literature exists on the subject. Let us just mention the philosophical dispute
between Immanuel Kant and Benjamin Constant about whether lying should always be
rejected or could sometime be considered acceptable.
But such discussions do not belong to the past. The evolution of modern societies toward an
increasing complexity and demand for fairness generates a growing interest for ethics and
corporate social responsibility. This translates into new laws and regulations aiming to govern
behaviours to avoid for instance conflicts of interest.
Cultural perspectives must often be taken into account. Thus in example 1 here above the
propensity to denounce will be higher in universalist cultures like the American culture, than
in particularist cultures like Asian cultures
Resorting to serious games will make cases more realistic, through associating with a
particular and unexpected moral dilemma, environment, cultural aspects, psychological
features and emotions. Serious games will thus contribute to make an important but quite arid
topic more attractive.
ORT, in relation with LRN, an American company which has developed cutting edge services
concerning corporate social responsibility, compliance and ethics training (more than 500
client companies), proposes to provide real life cases and pedagogical tools that could be used
in the development of serious games.