Pro-social themes like empathy and wellbeing are gaining popularity within games to contrast the medium’s stigmatised explorations of themes like violence, often to catalyse reflection or even change players’ beliefs surrounding complex scenarios. These abstract themes can be classified as a game’s “values”: elements that are “useful or important” to game designers and their audience. Exploration of values in games was spearheaded by Values at Play, which described how values manifest in games and advocated for their explicit consideration within games and their discourse. Frameworks such as empathy, ethical, and anti-oppressive design all discuss similar values, but present ontological diversity that makes it difficult to collate games and frameworks under the values-conscious design umbrella. Such frameworks also often focus on design approaches and small-scale prototypes but pay less attention to how values influence aspects like publication and play. As such, the present research examines values within each stage of a game’s lifecycle: design, development, publication, interaction, and reportage. Doing so provides an understanding of values in multiple game contexts. This provides new perspectives that form the basis of a taxonomy for values in games, which is then presented alongside practical questions for values-conscious designers, publishers, and players to guide its use.
- game space