Can game-design promote human rights?

The Council of Europe has released a set of guidelines on the human rights of video-game players, calling on game-creators to design systems that encourage freedom of expression and creativity (many online games actually put up an "agreement" every time you patch them in which you promise not to assert your right to either). On the academic games blog Terra Nova, Ren Reynolds points out problems with this approach and sets out a course for improving it.

Providers (designers and publishers) of online games design and make available products which can promote the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the freedom to express, to create and to exchange content and communications while respecting the rights of others. Designed and provided in an appropriate manner, games can be powerful tools to enhance learning, creativity and social interaction, thereby helping users to benefit from the information society.

However, like other content, online games may also inadvertently impact on the rights and sensibilities of individuals, in particular children, as well as their dignity. The potential impact of such games may increase as they allow the gaming experience to become more creative and interactive (as the possibilities for expression, interaction and exchange of content with other gamers increase) and ever more realistic (as the visual effects of games develop).

Online games can play an important positive role in the lives and development of individuals, especially for children and young people. It suffices to consider the importance of rights and freedoms, values and dignity, into the embedded design and marketing of games. In this regard, it is recalled that the exercise of freedom of expression carries with it duties and responsibilities, in particular as regards the protection of health and morals and the rights of others, which publishers of online games are encouraged to bear in mind when deciding on the content of their games.

Human rights & the 'online game provider'