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Activision Blizzard: Ethics of Buying

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The video game megacorporation Activision Blizzard, Inc. was the subject of a two-year investigation by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. A lawsuit is now pending against the company because of “constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation.” For those familiar with the video game industry, this lawsuit comes as no surprise; this behavior is both common and actively defended. In terms of the ethics of the company’s alleged behavior; there is no real moral debate: these actions are evil. In terms of the legal aspects, that is for the lawyers and judges to work through. While I am an ethics professor, I am also a gamer and I have an active subscription to World of Warcraft (WoW). When news of the lawsuit broke, my gaming group discussed what we should do. One person proposed finding a new game made by a company that treats its employees well. I am writing this not only as an exercise in philosophy, but as a means of working out my own ethical view on the matter in real time. One defense commonly advanced in such cases is to point out that most (if not all) companies are morally bad. As such, almost any game will be morally tainted with the wrongdoings of the company. Looked at one way, this can be fallacious reasoning. If the company is defended by claiming these are common occurrences, then this is the appeal to common practice fallacy. This fallacy occurs when, obviously enough, a practice is defended by claiming that it is commonly done. Even if something is commonly done, it does not follow that it is acceptable. Looked at another way, one can make a pragmatic argument. If someone wants to play a certain type of game and all companies that make that type of game are bad in some manner, then they will always be stuck with a game from a bad company. At the very least, any major company will be exploiting its workforce because that is how capitalism works. The Good Place did a good job illustrating this sort of problem: it is. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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