Someone posted this comment on a Channel Fireball article about the notion of ethics in Magic: the Gathering:
"There’s a difference between ethics (satisfying a responsibility to support the rules) and morality (valuations of right and wrong), and equating the two is a common source of problems. Magic doesn’t care about you acting morally, just ethically, and it isn’t super debatable that he acted ethically. In fact, going the other way and operating under what his opponent obviously intended rather than what he said under the rules is not ethical.
Again, ethics is not about right and wrong. Ethics is about the rules."
Now, I don’t know this person at all, and this is definitely one person’s opinion against another’s, but while he is definitely correct, the fact that he’s correct bothers me. Here’s the part that bothers me:
“Magic doesn’t care about you acting morally, just ethically…”
This implies to me that morals are immaterial in a tournament setting (in this case, in Magic). Unfortunately, I cannot see a way to enforce any sort of morality, even if a list of moral rules were created that participants agree upon prior to participation in events.
That large competitive communities come to see this distinction between morals and ethics bothers me, since the Android: Netrunner community is generally rather nice. That said, I know I’m guilty of at least one morally and ethically reprehensible act in a tournament, so I hope I’m not being too much of a hypocrite.
The more I think about it, the more I blame the system that creates an incentive for this type of behaviour: prizes. I cannot help but admire Fantasy Flight Games’ emphasis on minimal prizes to foster a specific type of player base. I totally wish there was a way to get more people to tournaments and events, but at the end of the day, I’d like to play a fun game against an opponent that I can be reasonably sure won’t try to cheat me in some way.
So, here’s a thought. A question. Is it good to forego ethics for the sake of morality? Should we, so long as no new information is given to the acting side, choose to allow for the player’s intention to be the deciding factor? Should we allow a player who played a program to take it back because they meant to play Sure Gamble? Should we allow players to take back runs so that they can click for credits first? Where is the line?
For me, I have no idea where to draw it. I move the line based on my opinion of my opponent, whether they act sportsmanlike and charitable, or they act more in the name of ethics than morality.
I have no idea if this kind of topic was discussed elsewhere except perhaps in tangents. but if it is, please tell me. Otherwise, I think this is a good thing to discuss, especially since we don’t yet have a real judge system in place. (Do we? I haven’t heard anything about the judge program in over a year.)