The Week in Review: Conflict ConsolesS

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: