To be told you paid money for a games console whose unseen components ended or ruined lives a world away is more than uncomfortable. It's angering.
That much was clear in the discussion of two of Kotaku's top stories this week, concerning what console makers are, can, and could reasonably do about the use of minerals whose mining and sale, in some parts of the world, fund the ugliest of wars.
It doesn't make gaming immoral, and it doesn't make anyone a bad person for enjoying it, or for buying a legal product made with these materials. If a manufacturer's raw materials can't be reasonably traced to a conflict source, then that conflict can't reasonably trace its funding back to your credit card. That's a fair point. But these resources are being mined and sold in war zones, and put into the supply channel from there. They have a highly specific use. They're found in the devices we buy. Those devices' widespread commercial legitimacy does nothing to resolve the matter.
And willful ignorance - to choose not to know how your actions affect others, is no better than not caring. Both are, by definition, unethical.
Microsoft has, in a statement, acknowledged the reality of the situation in Africa regarding conflict minerals useful to the manufacture of their electronic goods. It and Sony are part of an industry consortium working on a means to address conflict minerals. Nintendo is not a part of that group, but communicates its expectation to suppliers that they comply with their social responsibility policies.
Is this enough?
Hardcore games consumers may be a saturated market, but they are gaming's indispensable constituency, and their values absolutely set the course of battleships like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. These gamers are famously skeptical and impossible to please; many even attach product loyalties and purchasing decisions to the motives and personalities of those who make the goods. To spend any time arguing with one, in person, in a forum, in the comments of a post on this site, it would be very clear:
They all care deeply about what goes into the games and hardware they buy.
The week in Kotaku's original reporting:
- Top Stories
Did Buying Your Gaming Console Help Fund War Atrocities in the Congo?
The Best Games, The Best Play of The First Half of 2010
Kotaku's Best of E3 2010 Award Winners
What Do You Get With PlayStation Plus?
Well Played: The Inconvenient Truth Of Buying Video Games?
Tim Rogers: How I Didn't Get Killed At E3
Stick Jockey: He Doesn't Mind What You Call Them - Unless It's 'Monopoly'
- Reviews, Previews, Hands-On and Impressions
Transformers: Cybertron Adventures Review: Robots In Disgrace
Catalyst DSi Slim Cover Review: Worst Analogy Ever
Napoleon: Total War: The Peninsular Campaign Review: Wellington Party
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor Review: #1 With A Bullet
Joule iPad Stand Review: At What Cost Stability?
The Revenge Of 2D
Six Canadian Video Game Characters We Love
Someone Talented Is Making Video Game's Best Volcano
Nintendo's Weird Environmental Tips
Can You Spot Monster Hunter?
An Old Suit Case of Mafia II and A New Bag of Pac-Man
The 2010 Club Nintendo's Members-Only Rewards Are...
You Should Know One of These Boy Band Members
THQ Promising Big-Name Signings (But Who Could They Be?)
Meet Your 2010 American Pokémon Champions
Project Milo Will Be On Your Xbox, Just Not This Year
The Xbox Video Game About The Gulf Oil Spill Isn't Very Fun
Sony Turns A Boxed PlayStation 3 Game Into a Download
Square Enix Seems Interested In 3D (What About You?)
iTunes Chart Topper: Scrabble vs. GT Racings Battle Blazes on
Nessler Knows Your Name in NCAA Football 11
Madden 11 Demo Offers 5-Minute Quarters to All
An iPhone Is So Easy, A One-Year Child Can Unlock It
How I Accidentally Bought The Soundtrack To Nintendo's 2006
This Means Beard War
How's Your 2010 Gaming Backlog?
Why Isn't There A Big Nintendo Sign In Kyoto?
Speak-Up On Kotaku: Pokémon Rematches, The New WWII, Kids Reviews, And A Blizzard Love Letter
- Republished Features
In Defence of the Cut-Scene