Quicklinks: Breaking The “Magic Circle,” Wired on Global Gaming Crackdown, Guardian Unlimited on Virtual Drugs, and a Legal Outpost in “There”
April 26th, 2007 by Benjamin Duranske
Virtually Blind periodically runs “quicklinks” — items that are not long enough for a full story, but are worth a click. Here’s today’s batch:
- There’s a new paper entitled “The Magic Circle” on the intersection of law and virtual worlds by Indiana University School of Law Associate Professor Joshua Fairfield (first linked on Terra Nova). “Magic Circle” is a game-design term that is used to describe the “line” that protects games from intersecting with the real world so much that the real world distracts from the experience, and Professor Fairfield says that line is getting mighty blurry in the context of virtual worlds. The paper won’t be particularly controversial (the most intriguing conclusion is that community standards from virtual worlds might influence courts applying traditional law in these spaces) but does presents a surprisingly accessible overview for an academic paper, and is worth your click.
- Wired is running a short piece on the global gaming “crackdown,” focusing on the Chinese plan to limit gaming time and the relative ineffectiveness of in-world protests. It may be a bit old-hat to VB readers, but there’s a few interesting items there, including this interesting (albeit unsupported) claim: “In the near future, the IRS could require game developers to keep records of all the transactions that take place in virtual economies and tax players on their gains before any game currency is converted into dollars.”
- The Guardian is reporting on “virtual drugs” in Second Life as if it’s a new phenomenon (it isn’t), and predicts that “the introduction of illicit virtual drugs will no doubt bring calls for tough new regulations and aggressive law enforcement” (maybe, but they’ve got their hands full with casinos and pedophiles at the moment). As is typical when mainstream media covers virtual worlds, the article gets it about 80% wrong and covers the lack of knowledge with a thin coating of “wit.” That said, the idea of avatars taking drugs is pretty idiotic.
- Finally, the little virtual world that could, “There,” just got its very own legal center. The “State of Play Academy” claims it is “the first law and technology academy built in a virtual world.” Now, I’m reading the The State of Play essay collection right now, and I’m happy to see them establishing a presence in There (in fact, I’ll probably, finally, set up a There avatar just to see it), but I have a feeling there are some folks from Harvard’s Berkman Center and Nova Southeastern’s Shepard Broad Law Center who are going to dispute their claim about being the first.
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