Game Developer Ethics?

With more and more titles being VR compatible and the risk of physical health concerns, should the developer community compile a list of ethics to abide by (or a stamp of approval or some other rating system like that)? As loose as it could be, what would you guys consider as being unethical? For example, brainwave entrainment combined with visual and audio queues to incite a more (riskier) form of fear/anxiety than what the user would otherwise experience?

Other than stuff illegal (country dependent) to produce, at what point does development border on “this is legal by the law, but it is highly unethical”?

Opinions welcome! (Let’s not make it a flame fest or anything please)

As far as my opinion goes… as long as there is a disclaimer with potential side effects (WARNING!: Death may occur… for example), then this should suffice.

I wasn’t aware that there were health issues with VR, that’s both interesting and concerning.

Well, for now it’s just the “standard” stuff like nausea (Sim sickness) and epilepsy (common thing in any media), but it can be compounded by, say… jump scares. Jump scares are bad enough, but, and this is a huge IF and is theoretical for now, if someone has a heart condition that they’re not aware of, it can lead to, well, yea.

edit: I’m not trying to fear-monger with that. From personal experience, when your fight/flight response cannot be acted on, it leads to a heightened state of fear that you otherwise would never find yourself in. The only real thing you can do in response is to close your eyes, which doesn’t do much for the adrenaline rush from the experience. In my case, it lead to sweaty hands and increased heart rate. As someone that does dangerous / adventurist stuff as a hobby, and have been in several close calls, this was the first time for me that I ever experienced that level of fright. The only other time that came even close, maybe 1/3 of that sensation, was when an extremely narrow path decided to give way when I was about 50-60 feet up on a cliff with a 110lb loaded bicycle. Caught myself using a toe hook and heel hook on some trees that were around so I didn’t fall into a rock bed. That was less frightening than some stuff in VR.

Wow! Never expected to hear that. It sounds like lucid-dreaming-virtual-reality!
I’ve lived and worked in lots of places as an Expat. So regarding unethical…
There’s at least two groups I can think of that you shouldn’t ever **** on:

  1. Families everywhere… Kids and Mums especially…
  2. Peoples or Culture of a particularly sensitive nature.

Regarding horror / fear. There are articles about which countries like / dislike horror movies particularly the saw variety…
Having declaimers won’t save you from potential lawsuits or marketing backlash. So be sensitive to those who wish it…

The way I see it - its all about levels of stimulus; an experience generates x quantity of stimulus to a person who has a stimulus tolerance of y.
if a person with low stimulus tolerance undergoes an experience that generates greater levels of stimulus than they are capable of handling, they will be overwhelmed in a very unpleasant way - e.g. a neurotic agorophobe with vertigo riding a rollercoaster would most likely be a gibbering wreck.
The same rollercoaster rode by a person whos stimulus tolerance is just bordering on the stimulus level of the experience would have undergone the same action, but they would have had a great time.
Another person whos stimulus tolerance was way above the rollercoaster, would have also undergone the same action but with the result of being bored and underwhelmed

So the problem is, that while the stimulus level of an activity is (somewhat) predictable, the stimulus tolerances or individual psychological triggers of the person undergoing the activity is not, and as such I reason that while we as the creators of these activities are aware of the nature of what we are creating (a scary game, a psychologically mindf**king game, a heart-racing adrenaline ride of a game etc etc), we have no choice but to simply judge whether or not our material is “suitable for all audiences” and ensure that stimulus levels are kept to a constant, steady pace or declare our material “suitable only for adults”, by this implying consenting adults of a right mind, and trust that they have the good sense to know what is beyond what they find comfortable.

In short - if you go into a curry house and order too hot a curry, you burn your mouth. If you go see a film that is too scary, you will wet yourself. They might say the curry is hot - they might say the film is scary, but it is at the customers discretion as to whether they want to experience it.

Real-world common sense doesn’t carry over to the tech world all that well, many just click through disclaimers / legalese / EULA etc.
While you might be covered in America from lawsuits, it won’t protect you from backlash in parts of Europe, Asia and South America…
So if VR tech looks like it could use a warning then be upfront about it. Assume you’re dealing with low-hanging-fruit sensitive types.