Ali (Ethics and Information Technology 17:267–274, 2015) and McCormick (Ethics and Information Technology 3:277–287, 2001) claim that virtual murders are objectionable when they show inappropriate engagement with the game or bad sportsmanship. McCormick argues that such virtual murders cannot be wrong on Kantian grounds because virtual murders only violate indirect moral duties, and bad sportsmanship is shown across competitive sports in the same way. To condemn virtual murder on grounds of bad sportsmanship, we would need to also condemn other competitive games. I argue, contra McCormick, that virtual murders performed within massively multiplayer online roleplaying games can be wrong on Kantian grounds when they are exploitative. Exploitation occurs when virtual murder treats the player controlling the victim in a way that they have no opportunity to consent to (i.e. as a mere means in Kantian terminology). I argue that some virtual murders involving inappropriate engagement (Ali, Ethics and Information Technology 17:267–274, 2015) and bad sportsmanship (McCormick, Ethics and Information Technology 3:277–287, 2001) are exploitative in this way and therefore also wrong on Kantian grounds.
- Virtual murder
- Kantian Deontology