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Your task is to write a report to the senior management of a games company and set out the ethical argument and what a responsible approach to selling games could be

QAB020X601S Business Ethics and Responsible Management

Assessment Case Choice 1 - EA Games: Fifa, Loot boxes and whales 

Background

The business of gaming is complex; ‘freemium’ on-line games are built on a model of allowing access to games for free, but then directing players towards in game purchases as well as accruing revenue from advertising. These, in themselves are controversial, especially where games are directed towards children. Recently the spotlight has shifted more specifically to ‘loot boxes’. These are in game purchasers where a buyer does not know the content of the box; will it be Lionel Messi to improve a football team, or a particular weapon or skill to help on a quest?

Recently the UK Parliament has been examining whether loot boxes should be regulated (they increasing elsewhere – see the articles below). Giving evidence before MPs Kerry Hopkins, A Vice President of EA games said that the boxes are ‘quite ethical and fun’ and ‘just like a Kinder egg’. And yet some are arguing they are gambling, encourage gambling, and succeed only because the games are designed to be addictive. Then there are the stories of gamers spending large amounts of money in the hope of getting something worthwhile in the loot box with the media  very quick to report parents who have had their ‘bank accounts emptied’ by game-playing children.  Perhaps the industry doesn’t help itself by characterising some gamers as ‘whales’ – the loyal gamers who account for a large amount of in game revenue.

So – is Kerry Hopkins right? Are loot boxes ‘quite ethical’?

Your task is to write a report to the senior management of a games company and set out the ethical argument and what a responsible approach to selling games could be. You are playing the role of an employee within the company who has been tasked to write the report for senior managers. It could be EA you are writing to, or it could be another company, the choice is yours

Here is the link to the article in which Kerry Hopkins is quoted:

BBC Newsbeat 20th June 2019 “EA games: Loot boxes aren’t gambling, they’re just like a Kinder Egg”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-48701962

Note – Parentzone is an organisation working in digital matters with a mission to keep children safe online, they state on their website that all of their research is independent.

Your assessment into two parts with part 1 being further split into two. Read the requirements below and attempt all three parts:

Part 1

a)      You are now required to write a brief report to senior managers at the company of your choice (For example EA or another games /app developer/company) from the perspective of an employee who has been asked to write a report for senior managers outlining the ethical issue involved in having loot boxes as part of your business model . You will need to explore and write about a number of factors including - Why should the company be looking at this issue from an ethical perspective of ethics? How might this issue influence the public image of the company? What alternatives ways are there to think about a business’ role in society? Who/what are the stakeholders impacted in the scenario you are reporting on and how are they impacted on? Are there examples of business that act responsibly and ones that do not? You should illustrate this by including research you can find e.g. where is there research that shows good choices benefit companies and bad choices have a negative impact?. Finally you should conclude with some recommendations for what the company should do (here you may want to look at the reports noted above on ‘understanding your organisation’s gender pay gap’ and ‘Actions to close the gap’.

This part of your assessment should be written as a report, but should be referenced in the normal academic way using Harvard citations and referencing.

b)      For this part you should again use the case study – but this time choose TWO ethical theories (using ones we have looked at in class) and demonstrate that you can apply these to the case to show how your chosen theories lead you to a view on the ethics of the case. For example, if you applied utilitarian thinking to the idea of selling loot boxes to children,  what would you need to consider and how might the issue look from that perspective? Or, what if you apply Kant’s thinking here?  NOTE – you do NOT have to use ‘opposing’ ideas, we are interested most in how you use theory, if, when you apply two theories they seem to give the same answer that is fine, if they seem to give different outcomes that is fine too. This section is written in a more academic style than the report.

Part 2

Part 2 is NOT related to the case study. This section requires you to discuss what makes an ethical leader and how you would, as an ethical manager, manage your business and/or others to a high ethical standard.

You will need to think about personal ethics, about the conditions that bring about unethical organisations and practices, about organisational values and methods of compliance. This part can be written in a more reflective style, where the first person can be used.

WORD COUNT

The word limit for this assessment is 3,000 words. This does NOT include any title page or bibliography.

You are allowed 10% of the word count (ie submissions can be up to 3,300 words_, submissions exceeding this will be subject to a penalty.

How the word count is used across the submission is up to you. A suggestion would be

Part 1

a)      Approx. 1200 words

b)      Approx. 1000 words

Part 2

Approx. 800 words

The exact proportions will vary and this is part of your challenge to write informatively and concisely across the required tasks.

How will we support you with your assessment?

  • Assessment briefing Week 1 (lecture)
  • Briefing material and guides in addition to the assessment brief (Please make sure that you read these)
  • Dedicated seminar session on your formative assessment  - see LTAF for the weeks
  • Prompt feedback session on your formative assessment and tutorial session to support the development of your summative assessment.
  • An assignment writing workshop in week 12
    • Tutorial session to support the completion of your summative assessment in Week 13.

How will your work be assessed?

Your work will be assessed by a subject expert who will use the marking grid provided in this assessment brief.  When you access your marked work it is important that you reflect on the feedback so that you can use it to improve future assignments.

Referencing

You MUST use the Harvard System.  The Harvard system is very easy to use once you become familiar with it.

Assignment submissions

The Business School requires a digital version of all assignment submissions.  These must be submitted via Turnitin on the module’s Moodle site.  They must be submitted as a Word file (not as a pdf) and must not include scanned in text or text boxes.  They must be submitted by 2pm on the given date.  For further general details on coursework preparation refer to the online information via StudentZone http://studentzone.roehampton.ac.uk/howtostudy/index.html

Mitigating circumstances/what to do if you cannot submit a piece of work or attend your presentation

The University Mitigating Circumstances Policy can be found on the University website - Mitigating  Circumstances Policy.

Marking and feedback process

Between you handing in your work and then receiving your feedback and marks within 20 days, there are a number of quality assurance processes that we go through to ensure that students receive marks which reflects their work. A brief summary is provided below.

  • Step One – The module and marking team meet to agree standards, expectations and how feedback will be provided.
  • Step Two – A subject expert will mark your work using the criteria provided in the assessment brief.
  • Step Three – A moderation meeting takes place where all members of the teaching and marking team will review the marking of others to confirm whether they agree with the mark and feedback.
  • Step Four – Work at Levels 5 and 6 then goes to an external examiner who will review a sample of work to confirm that the marking between different staff is consistent and fair.

Step Five – Your mark and feedback is processed by the Office and made available to you.


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