Rob Carr writes: "Considered unethical to ever perform again with humans, researcher Mel Slater recreated the Milgram experiment in a immersive virtual environment. Subjects (some of whom could see and hear the computerized woman, others who were only able to read text messages from her) were told that they were interacting with a computer character and told to give increasingly powerful electric shocks when wrong answers were given or the "woman" took too long to respond. The computer program would correspondingly complain and beg as the "shocks" were ramped up, falling apparently unconscious before the last shock. The skin conductance and electrocardiograms of the subjects were monitored. Even though the subjects knew they were only "shocking" a computer program, their bodies reacted with increased stress responses. Several of the ones who could see and hear the woman stopped before reaching the "lethal" voltage, and about half considered stopping the study. The full results of the experimental report can be read online at PLoS One. Already, some (like William Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute) are asking whether even this sanitized experiment is ethical. The application of these results to video games are obvious, and it's only a matter of time before someone starts using this research to question the effects of violent video games on people."
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Thus spake the master programmer:
"When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes."
-- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"