Towards a code of ethics for roleplaying game developers in Australia

Recent events have prompted a call for the Roleplaying Game Developers Association of Australia to have a code of ethics. This would allow complaints to be made that a member has breached the code of ethics, and for measures (including expulsion) to be taken against a member who has breached the code. Adopting a code of ethics would be a step towards having an organized profession of roleplaying game development.

If we were to have a code of ethics, what values should it express? Here are my thoughts:

Safety and diversity of participants in roleplaying

Our highest value must be that roleplaying is as safe as possible for the people who participate in it. Without participants, there is no roleplaying. A large and diverse playerbase is good for the profession, and the association charges professional members with protecting the diversity of persons within the roleplaying community. Members are expected to actively oppose attempts to exclude groups within the community from being excluded from roleplaying.

Safety and diversity of designers and artists in roleplaying

The profession of roleplaying game design creates personal hazards for designers and artists. These hazards include harassment (online and offline) and abusive work practices. Members must not under any circumstances participate in harassment or abuse, and should take reasonable measures to oppose harassment and abuse. Members are expected to actively oppose attempts to exclude groups within the community from being excluded from roleplaying.

Freedom of expression within the law

Roleplaying games are often an avenue for exploration of topics, concepts and events that are not safe to conduct in real life. As such, they may depict things that are offensive to some members of the community. The RGDA defends the right of its members to exercise full freedom of expression within Australian law. Members of the profession will disagree with each other about the merits of a piece of work, but should defend the right of authors to produce the work of their choice when it is reasonable to do so.

Honest and responsible claims

Claims made by members of the profession shall always be honest and responsible. ‘Claims’ includes claims of efficacy (eg ‘Roleplaying games are good for mental health’) and of authorship.

Promote goodwill between the profession and customers

Members of the profession will promote goodwill between the community of developers and the community of gamers. When opposing harassment and abuse, it is important to remember that the small proportion of gamers who abuse and harass are not reflective of ‘gamers’ as a whole.

Defend the profession against misconduct

Members who become aware of misconduct (including breaches of this code) will take action to oppose the misconduct.

Written by

Nick Argall is an organization engineer, structuring activities to help businesses achieve their goals.

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