Why computer games can be essential for human flourishing

B. Fröding, M.B. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Traditionally, playing computer games and engaging in other online activities has been seen as a threat to well-being, health and long-term happiness. It is feared that spending many hours per day in front of the screen leads the individual to forsake other, more worthwhile activities, such as human interaction and the up-keeping of good habits with regards to physical exercise, sleeping and eating. Indeed, the computer game industry has been accused of causing everything from anti-social behavior to obesity in the young as well as in adults (De Decker et al., 2012; Sicart, 2009; Spence, 2012). This article challenges the standard view and seeks to show that some computer games and online activities might in fact be conducive to a good life. The aim is to discuss what role computer games could play when it comes to learning and instilling various capacities and skills that humans need in order for their lives to go well. We argue that if people can improve various aspects of themselves (without jeopardizing their overall well-being) through the means of computer games that is a reason to recommend spending more instead of less time in front of the screen. This article couches the claim in a virtue ethical understanding of what constitutes eudaimonia or human flourishing. Notably, we do not argue that such activities are central to all people under all circumstances. Rather, the main claim of this article is that for some people, under some circumstances, playing computer games for lengthy periods of time, even in a manner that will force the player to forgo certain other activities normally seen as more important, can be an integral part of what it means to lead a good life and, further, that it should be considered a meaningful activity for these individuals. The structure of this article is as follows. In Section 2 we recapitulate the key components of Aristotle's virtue ethical theory of the good life. Thereafter, in Section 3, we give examples of a new breed of games, which are designed to improve our quality of life in certain situations. These games support, we argue, the claim that playing computer games is a meaningful activity. In Section 4, we state, discuss and rebut four objections to our claim, which is followed by a concluding discussion in Section 5.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-91
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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