Unethical Behavior in Game Development Industry

Subject: Business Ethics
Pages: 3
Words: 832
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Bachelor

Unethical behavior is typical of many businesses, and as a rule, such a problem leads to huge losses not only financially but also reputationally. Several examples from the video game development industry demonstrate the difficulties of unethical behavior within the company and also indicate the practical need to prevent such behavior within the team (Jannat et al., 2021). At the same time, the media landscape around the gaming industry is still young, as is the industry itself, a host of unethical behavior issues are already surfacing within the industry. Recent years within the game development industry demonstrate the problems inherent not only in this but also in many other branches of the IT sphere. The theme of sexual harassment stands out, which has gone hand in hand with the industry’s emergence in the last decade of the twentieth century. In recent years, hundreds of women associated with the gaming industry have shared their experiences of sexual assault, rape, and harassment.

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Unethical behavior in the video game development sphere can be seen through the example of the Obsidian company. Namely, the last known participant in the scandal is Chris Avellone. Avellone is a 48-year-old game designer and writer who has worked at Interplay Entertainment and Obsidian Entertainment over the years. In these studios, Avelon created such products as Planescape: Torment, Fallout 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, and other highly well-known projects in the industry. However, several women filed lawsuits against him, alleging long-term illegal and violent behavior (Partis, 2021). After allegations of sexual harassment by Avellone appeared in the press, game studios, one after another, naturally began to terminate contracts and relationships with the screenwriter. Thus, most studios have demonstrated that they do not support the actions of the screenwriter.

Hence, it was demonstrated that unethical behavior in the game development market is shunned. However, it is not only the influence and adverse reaction of other companies that should make organizations conduct their business responsibly; in fact, there are benefits in such an approach. Although it is often highlighted that business enterprises should be ethical to help society, accountable behavior can help the businesses themselves (Herrera & Heras-Rosas, 2020). Namely, the harmful actions of the employees against others, such as harassment, lead to conflicts within a group and misbalance the working process. In contrast, the promotion of an ethical attitude toward the workers in an organization increases the unity of the collective and enhances the productivity of teamwork (Herrera & Heras-Rosas, 2020). Employees feel satisfied with their working conditions and increase the profit of the company by completing their tasks successfully. Thus, it is important to support ethics in the workplace.

The benefits and costs of conducting business ethically are evident if one considers the other video game development studio. Namely, Riot is known as an organization where sexism and harassment were perpetrated. However, Riot showed the right approach to getting rid of problems with unethical behavior within their company. Realizing that the unethical behavior of the workers harmed the organization, the company agreed to pay $10 million in compensation to employees in the case of gender discrimination by 2019. The company also hired a dedicated panel of independent female experts as well as discrimination lawyers to address issues related to unethical and illegal behavior within the company. The result was the teamwork of several experts and highly satisfactory results, demonstrating the fact that the company operates much more efficiently without ethical problems within its team (Valle et al., 2017). Thus, it could be stated that the ethical approach provokes the development of the business, and the costs of ethical conduct are lower than the cost of the consequences of the opposite.

Returning to the unethical actions in Obsidian Entertainment, it could be stated that the company’s approach leads to harm for the organization. First, it is clear that employees in the enterprise are not satisfied with the behavior of their leaders and cannot feel safe in their workplace. This might lead to further decreases in teams’ productivity and turnovers. Hence, the company might suffer losses because of the disturbing working atmosphere. Second, it was already mentioned that the other video game development studios have expressed their unacceptance of the existing situation and refused to collaborate with the organization. Thus, the company is also harmed because it cannot continue its deals with other businesses. Therefore, the unethical behavior of its leader has led to profit and prestige losses, as well as to the disruption of the enterprise’s competitive advantage.

All this, in the end, demonstrates the effects of unethical behavior within large companies as a whole. The acts of the employees that harm others reflect the general approach of the business to the company’s philosophy. In turn, this approach of letting the employees act unethically damages teamwork, productivity, and the reputation of the organization. Finally, the gaming industry experience shows the benefits of efficiency in connection with a competent and ethical approach and the behavior of employees within teams.


Herrera, J., & Heras-Rosas, C. (2020). Corporate social responsibility and human resource management: Towards sustainable business organizations. Sustainability, 12(3), 841. Web.

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Partis, D. (2021). Chris Avellone files lawsuit over sexual misconduct allegations. GamesIndustry.Biz. Web.

Valle, M., Kacmar, K. M., & Zivnuska, S. (2017). Understanding the effects of political environments on unethical behavior in organizations. Journal of Business Ethics, 156(1), 173–188. Web.