Tinybuild Games recently announced an updated alpha version of their upcoming release, Hello Neighbor, is now available. The British development studio dubbed their latest title “a game about sneaking into your neighbor’s house to figure out what horrible secrets he’s hiding in the basement.” This creepy and downright perplexing statement about the title seems to highlight the age old question regarding our favorite past time. Should developers follow a code of ethics when developing games?
The answer to that question for me is quite simple. Yes, they should be cognizant of the fact that the media they are producing is for human consumption. Regardless of whether we want to believe the truth or not, games have an effect on the human psyche to a certain extent. You can throw out all the university research done on the subject. Just watch your young cousin next time he rages out over losing a mobile match on his iPad. Nonetheless, developers have a civic and moral duty to at least be aware of how their material is presented, if not removing certain aspects that only negatively encourage the debate over what’s right and wrong within games.
I’m torn on this topic myself. I feel strongly about presenting cleaner material to an audience in an effort to push our society forward on the right path. However, I’m a big fan of the first-person shooter, as long as it blurs the line of realism. In other words, I love games like Destiny and Halo, but struggle with similar titles like Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row. Now I’m either a Bible beater torn between my old and new life or I’m just the biggest hypocrite in the history of game journalism. Either way, the debate needs to be had and perhaps I need to take a harder line on my true stance.
Unfortunately, our industry has been subjected to this type of scrutiny in the past, and it’s certainly warranted to some extent. In fact, it’s probably the biggest reason our platform catches so much slack from the public. Perhaps the critics are at least onto something and having the debate over what’s right and what’s right to present within a game is worth discussion.
Regardless of your stance on the issue, it’s easy to admit that developing a game about breaking into your neighbor’s house and going full peeping Tom doesn’t seem right. Maybe I’m on an island when it comes to vicariously living through video game characters and maybe I’m blowing this story out of proportion. Nonetheless, I just want to see my favorite past time preserved in all it’s awesomeness and not flushed down the toilet by poor and immoral development decisions