Graphic Narrative – Ethical Considerations

With any media production, various legal and ethical issues must be taken into account to avoid breaking laws, and to avoid offending a certain group of people.

Legal Issues


Blasphemy is law that essentially limits freedom of speech, and is thus considered somewhat antiquated in modern societies. Blasphemy laws prohibit the expression of hate/irreverence to toward a religious belief system. This can be though speech, actions or through the media. Some religions consider blasphemy as a serious crime. As of 2012, anti-blasphemy laws exist in 32 countries, and some of those countries carry death penalties.

With countries that still operate laws against blasphemy, developers producing work that may contain blasphemous material may choose to edit, or not release certain material at all in these countries. An example of a game that contains potentially blasphemous material is the Devil May Cry series, which plays on Christian lore/beliefs. In the remakes of these games, a warning is displayed at the start that the game may contain religiously offensive material.

Relvence to my project:

Pacific Steel is a war game, set between two opposing factions. Even though historically a certain amount of religious systems were involved in WWII, I won’t be portraying any of them in my animation, simply due to it’s sensitive natrue. Time periods such as WWII are still a sensetive subject for many people, it’s important to tread lightly.

Hate Crimes 

A hate crime is where an individual, or a group of people feel prejudiced and/oppressed because of their religion, sex, gender, race, ability or identity. The cause of the hate crime can again be through speech, actions or through the media. Not all hate incidents will come to criminal offences, but those that do become a hate crime.

Media publishers and developers often have to be very wary of these issues, as anyone offended/upset by the content (depending on the content) will reduce the products potential audience and this reduce sales. An example of a “hate crime” within a video game would be Bioshock Infinite. The game takes place in a period in which black people were considered 2nd class citizens, and are treated as such in the game. Though it makes sense with the story/setting of the game, a portion of people refused to buy the game as a result.

This isn’t a crime as such in the eyes of the law, but many may consider it a hate crime against them personally.

Relvence to my project:

Avoiding this is difficult considering the setting of my animation. Ideally I don’t want to discriminate race/nationalities, but that’s nearly impossible. This portion of war was when two opposing nations fought one another, and one nation did it far better than the other, creating a clear divide on “who was the better nation”. It depends on your point of view.

Though not historically accurate (along with the dangers of straight up denying historical fact), I will be portraying both opposing forces as eaqually as possible. One of the reasons I chose 1941 as my time period is because the Japanese and the Americans were on more or less the same footing. It works from a hypothetical gameplay perspective, and from a simple ethical/non-discriminatory point of view.

Breach of Confidence 

A breach of confidence is simply the release of  information that was to be legally contained between two or more individuals, such as trade secrets, government documents or private, personal information. This breach of information can happen through word of mouth, or through media distribution, and both are equally prosecutable.

Breaches of confidence/sensitive information leaks can happen fairly often in the games industry. Leaks of upcoming projects or business decisions from a developer may be leaked to the public through either hacking or more often, an internal employee. VALVe, a software development studio was being rumoured to be working on a new, sensitive project. A few of the project’s details were of course leaked to the public, resulting in a breach of confidence from within the company.

Relvence to my project:


Ethical Issues


Represention (regarding animation) simply means the inlclusion of different races, sexes, ages and genders in the material. Representation is not enforacebale by law, but is seen as morally correct to include (and thus not discriminate agaisnt) all varieties of people. The inclusion of all people helps them feel more represented and accepted in socitey, as they tend to be the minority of the population.

Representation in video games has always been an issue. On one hand, some games feature simply white characters and the protagonist is simple a while male character. These games have been met with some backlash due to the lack of strong female characters and/or race varitey. On the other hand, regarding the recent shooter Battlefield 1, the game features a varitey of different protagonists from varying countries and racial backgrounds. The game features a black protagonist, which can be seen as progressive as far as modern shooter games go.

Relvence to my project:

I’m not concerned about representing race, sex or gender in my animation simply because it features no human characters at all. Representation of nationality is however an issue to consider. Two countries will be represented in my animation, America and Japan. Though other countries did participate in the pacific war (England, Germany, China), these were the two main players, and I simply don’t have the space nor time in my animation to include everyone else.

Offensive Material

Offensive material refers to things that people/certain groups of people may find disgusting, insulting or even blasphemous. What is and is not offensive can vary wildly from culture to culture. Generally warnings are given to content that may contain “offensive” material, but it’s mostly up to that individual what they do and do not find offensive.

Offensive material can be found in every form of media, but as I stated, something that is offensive is purely subjective. There are people who are rarley offended by anything, and people who are offended all the time. Repeat offenders regarding offensive material are MMORPG games (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games), providing hyper sexualised female characters in an effort to lure in the male playerbase. Games like these are always on the receiving end of various forms of hate.

Relvence to my project:

Again, war is a sensetive subject. I won’t be portraying any human characters in my animation, and there is only one real implied “death” in which an aircraft explodes. As I stated before, I will be portraying both opposing forces as eaqually as possible. Early in development I considered replacing the Japanese fighter aircraft with Kamikaze, which would have provided an even more desperate and lethal profile to the animation. In modern day however, the Kamikaze doesn’t sit well with the Japanese people. And I don’t exactly want to offend my target audience.





One thought on “Graphic Narrative – Ethical Considerations

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s