Balkinization  

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The State of Play: Law, Games, and Virtual Worlds

JB



Beth Noveck and I have edited a collection of essays on virtual worlds and the law that has just been published by New York University Press. It's called The State of Play, and it features articles by some of the leading experts in the field, including, in addition to Beth and myself, Richard Bartle, Yochai Benkler, Caroline Bradley, Edward Castronova, Susan Crawford, Julian Dibbell, Michael Froomkin, James Grimmelmann, David Johnson, Dan Hunter, Raph Koster, Greg Lastowka, Cory Ondrejka, Tracy Spaight and Tal Zarsky.

Here's a short description of the book:

Millions of people around the world inhabit virtual words: multiplayer online games where characters live, love, buy, trade, cheat, steal, and have every possible kind of adventure. Far more complicated and sophisticated than early video games, people now spend countless hours in virtual universes like Second Life and Star Wars Galaxies not to shoot space invaders but to create new identities, fall in love, build cities, make rules, and break them.

As digital worlds become increasingly powerful and lifelike, people will employ them for countless real-world purposes, including commerce, education, medicine, law enforcement, and military training. Inevitably, real-world law will regulate them. But should virtual worlds be fully integrated into our real-world legal system or should they be treated as separate jurisdictions with their own forms of dispute resolution? What rules should govern virtual communities? Should the law step in to protect property rights when virtual items are destroyed or stolen?

These questions, and many more, are considered in The State of Play, where legal experts, game designers, and policymakers explore the boundaries of free speech, intellectual property, and creativity in virtual worlds. The essays explore both the emergence of law in multiplayer online games and how we can use virtual worlds to study real-world social interactions and test real-world laws.


You can buy a copy at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.


Comments:

So, I'm curious.

Have you played any of the MMORPGS?
 

Professor,

Does the publisher have plans to support a discussion list or such for this book? If not, much though I've resisted its siren song so far, this seems like a great excuse to get folks onto Second Life or some such. $.02
 

OK, maybe in a virtual world, same-sex couples can conceive babies ethically. But in the real world, it would be completely unethical to attempt same-sex conception, due to the way genes are imprinted for each sex and how they come together in sexual reproduction.

I think this book is evidence of the fact that lawyers live in a fantasy world, a virtual legal construct, where issues are dealt with in make-believe abstractions and reality is glossed over, science fiction taken as science and virtual people equated with real human beings.

Trying to get Jack Balkin to offer an opinion on the real world version of same-sex conception is going to be impossible, because he lives in Lawyer-land, where physical law is suspended, and his opinion will come from there.
 

Anne,

Fyi, turns out when we post the full url of a link into the body of a comment it can force the width of the display column to accomodate; that's why certain posts end up rendering poorly. Maybe you can be cajoled into actually linking rather than displaying urls?

And I guess I'll be writing Mr. Martin, author of the gm killfile script, to ask if the script can be tweaked to include these comment input pages. Would be happy to correspond w/ you in private email; I'm pretty easy to find. ;)
 

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 

John Howard likes pie as well:
link

Howard, because from now on I will no longer read your posts, a final thought: keep your off topic rambling to your own blog. Mr. Balkin can and will say on his blog what he wants and when he wants to.

Thanks for the tip Robert. Didn't figure using (a) as a tag.
 

I do like pie. Cowardly Ann will remain ignorant because she can't read my comments, which also means she won't waste our time non-responding to them.

My post was on topic, this is a thread about how virtual world law relates to real world law.

it's funny how many people feel the need to tell me that Jack Balkin doesn't need to respond if he doesn't want to. Gee, I thought he must be duct-taped to a chair in his basement, desperately trying to escape from the evil people keeping him from offering a legal opinion on the right to use genetic engineering for same-sex couples to have children. No, I have known all along that he just chooses to write about less controversial issues, and avoids this topic because he doesn't know how to deal with it and wants it to go away. He can ignore it, but it won't go away, and all that will happen is everyone will see that he ignored it rather than responded to it.
 

Anne,

fwiw, I find the kill file script even better when it just completely kills the post. I only wish I had it installed on the home machine before I saw John's latest embarrassment of a comment. I can always recover killed items from the "post a comment" page, but for general reading I don't have to even know they've been blocked. Only downside is the "n comments" line on the original post is no long as reliable; a small price to pay. "troll | /dev/null" as they say, eh?

Meanwhile, have you the slightest interest in looking at the cyber one project? Or starting some kind of Balkinized presence on Second Life, perhaps in relationship to "The State of Play"? You or any others who might be up for such a diversion, feel free to email me directly (the address is findable via my blogger profile...and how come more of y'all don't give useful contact info on yours?)

Cheers.
 

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