Back to "The Matrix" (II)

Good comments, e.g., by “yozhik” and by Prof. Castronova, the economist of the virtual world phenomenon; and for a rich discussion of the laws that govern or should govern virtual worlds, see Balkin. Also a paper by Lastowka and Hunter.

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7 Responses to Back to "The Matrix" (II)

  1. Raoul says:

    Why don’t the participants create courts inside the virtual worlds and grant them their own jurisdiciton? Characters can pay for virtual crimes with fines via their virtual money or with imprisonment or death via their virtual lives.

    Imagine the potential for virtual growth. There could be virtual lawyers running around churning virtual billables.

  2. karl says:

    Like the idea of virutal courts with virtual jurisdicition for virtual crimes in online play. The only problem I have is with the idea of the virtual billable. Can’t be done. I would be willing to offer a relatively cheap rate of $250/hour, or flat rate of $1000 per appearance.

    – k

  3. George says:

    two events noted this week. One: gamers paying cheap labour offshore to play to high l33t status, then resuming the avatar to benefit from its elevation (and posses of keener players hunting them down)

    two: programmer in the USA paying 1/6th of salary to programmer in cheaper offshore country to do his code, works 90min/day to supervise and employer appears happy (I suspect dis-intermediation will come soon)

    since virtual gamestate now can attract real-world moneyflows, and since offshore skills are sufficiently l33t to have value in the real and virtual world then the real question is who OWNS the avatar, because never mind the play money, somebody needs to know for that Bank of America cheque…

  4. Adrian Lopez says:

    Recalling my previous comment in Back to “The Matrix”, I must again insist that virtual “property” should not be afforded the same protection as real-life property. Virtual “property” should be governed by the stated and/or emergent rules of the game, and not by the courts.

    If a player steals something from another player that’s something to be resolved in the context of the game. Those who would rather involve the courts do not understand the difference between “in-character” and “out-of-character” actions.

    A multiplayer game is first and foremost a make-believe world, and it’s important that the courts respect this. The courts should see virtual items as data, not as property.

  5. raoul says:

    “If a player steals something from another player that�s something to be resolved in the context of the game.”

    = virtual courts.

  6. Adrian Lopez says:

    Yes Raoul, I agree those would qualify as virtual courts. I wasn’t disagreeing with you, I was simply reacting to the links Judge Posner posted.

    I agree that virtual courts should be used if courts are to be used at all. On the other hand, I don’t think there should be any legal presumption to the effect that virtual issues need to be resolved at all. If I want to create a chaotic game where everybody goes around killing, stealing, raping and pillaging, the system should be allowed to collapse or evolve on its own without external constraints being imposed.

  7. Kevin says:

    Here’s an interesting article by Farhad Manjoo that Salon posted last December:

    One of the issues raised is the seamy underbelly of the Sims. Apparently, some of the people playing the game are virtual prostitutes — people paid in Simoleans, the currency of the Sims but convertible to real-world dollars, for cybersex. (Typing dirty.)

    The treatment of virtual property isn’t the only question we must consider.

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