Declaring the Rights of Metaplace Users

 Posted by (Visited 14279 times)  Game talk, Gamemaking  Tagged with: ,
Sep 152008
 

As has already been mentioned online, today at the Austin Game Conference Metaplace announced that its Terms of Service will be modeled on my 2000 article “Declaring the Rights of Players.” What does that mean?

It means, in a nutshell, that we are signing up for the following:

Rights of creators

  • Freedom of expression
  • Ownership, including earning money & running their own world
  • Privacy
  • Develop their own TOS

Rights of users

  • Freedom of speech & assembly, privacy
  • Rule of “law” and due process
  • Ownership of their IP

Responsibilities of creators and users

  • Don’t break the law

Why are we doing this? Because we want to foster entrepreneurship in Metaplace worlds. Because in a widely divergent distributed system, there are going to be many cases not catered to by the usual EULA. And because it’s the right thing to do.

Worlds that choose not to use our TOS as the basis can choose to run with their own — we’re not mandating anything. But ours serves as a model they can use, as the default boilerplate.

Here’s the complete TOS. I fully expect it to evolve. In fact, I’d like to request that if you see a hole in this document, that you let me know.

We have a EULA too, in which we mostly place the legalese that frankly, protects us. But It doesn’t undermine these rights, which is the important part.

Terms of Service

Unless the fabric of the virtual space is threatened and so long as world creators and users are not in violation of the EULA or relevant national or local law, we will endeavor to provide our world creators and users with the following rights.  Metaplace also encourages that world creators and users meet certain responsibilities as set forth below.

Rights of world creators:

  1. Freedom of speech.
  2. Peacefully represent their religious beliefs, but not to the exclusion or disparagement of others.
  3. Reasonable processes to resolve grievances with Metaplace.
  4. Own their intellectual property.
  5. Create and destroy their own world at their discretion with no liability to Metaplace or users.
  6. To be the sovereign power of their created worlds and subject to rights reserved by others to have full power and authority in their created worlds.
  7. Earn and extract economic value from created worlds.
  8. To be secure in their created worlds so that communications, designated private spaces, and effects, are protected against unreasonable snooping, eavesdropping, searching and seizures.  Any such activity will only be undertaken with good reason, such as investigating the violation of the EULA, these Terms of Service, or applicable laws.
  9. The enumeration in this document of rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by world creators.
  10. Set up worlds with their own rule sets that may differ from the rules here, so long as they make that rule set available to world users and do not violate the EULA.  Any Terms of Service that deviates from the standard Terms of Service must be displayed for world users.

Responsibilities of world creators:

  1. Not to harm minors in any way or simulate harm to minors.
  2. Know, understand, and follow applicable laws, including but not limited to the laws of the United States, as well as the EULA and this Terms of Service.

The Terms of Service below is the default for all worlds unless you have created your own Terms of Service.

Rights of Users:

  1. Freedom of speech.
  2. Freedom of assembly.
  3. Peacefully represent their religious beliefs, but not to the exclusion or disparagement of others.
  4. Reasonable processes to resolve grievances with Metaplace and world creators.
  5. Own intellectual property they create in a world.
  6. Freely depart worlds as they desire.
  7. To be treated equally and not discriminated against on the basis of sex, race, or national origin.
  8. To be innocent of any violation until proven guilty.
  9. To be secure in their persons so that communications, designated private spaces, and effects, are protected against unreasonable snooping, eavesdropping, searching and seizures.  Any such activity will only be undertaken with good reason, such as investigating the violation of the EULA, these Terms of Service, or applicable laws.
  10. The enumeration in this document of rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by users.

Responsibilities of Users:

  1. Not to harm minors in any way or simulate harm to minors.
  2. Know, understand, and follow applicable laws as well as the EULA and this Terms of Service.

  86 Responses to “Declaring the Rights of Metaplace Users”

  1. Raph wrote:

    # Freedom of speech.
    # Peacefully represent their religious beliefs, but not to the exclusion or disparagement of others.

    These are in conflict with each other, aren’t they? Freedom of speech certainly includes the ability to disparage other peoples’ religious beliefs.

    –matt

  2. Raph wrote:

    Freely depart worlds as they desire.

    Aren’t you mixing up player and avatar here? Players do not enter another world when their avatar does, and the avatar != the player.

    Sorry to make multiple posts, but this kind of thing gets me a-thinking.
    –matt

  3. I basically ripped these notes from the document I never sent you.

    Rights of (a) world creators and (b) users:

    1. What does “freedom of speech” mean: freedom of expression or First Amendment rights? Which standard of such freedom are we using? UN, US, or…? How are we interpreting such freedom: freedom to express oneself against an established authority or freedom to express oneself, period? Does this include “TTC”?

    2(a) and 5(b). Technically, intellectual property cannot be “owned” with the sort of permanence usually implied by the term “ownership.” Intellectual property “ownership” is frequently discussed in terms of access rights.

    8(a) and 9(b). What is “unreasonable snooping, eavesdropping, searching and seizures”? What qualifies as “unreasonable”? In which circumstances might snooping, eavesdropping, searching and seizures be “reasonable”?

    Responsibilities of world creators/users:

    1. This article should be more specific. For example, if a “minor” character jumps and bumps his head, that’s harm. Malice should be explicitly referenced. As a verb, “harm” implies intent. As a noun, “harm” is open to interpretation. Furthermore, this article would seem to prohibit users from creating certain controversial worlds, such as virtual worlds based on the Columbine or Virginia Tech incidents. Doesn’t this article violate Article I of the Rights of World Creators/Users?

    2. Which laws are applicable? I don’t think expecting non-U.S. users to recognize what’s lawful in the U.S. is reasonable.

  4. Not trying to be a pain in the ass here, Raph, but these issues are important to me. We need to get them right, and just copying rights approximated from another context won’t cut it.

    Raph wrote:

    To be innocent of any violation until proven guilty.

    The first hurdle you have to overcome to actually fulfill this claim is establishing a link between the user and the avatar, which you can’t really do in an economically feasible way. Unless you add something regarding the responsibility of users for anyone who uses their avatars, you always risk punishing a LOT of people for the acts of someone else via the owner’s avatar, particularly since there’s no possibility of punishment for the “offender.”

    Beyond that, what does “innocent until proven guilty” actually mean? It sounds like you’re trying to echo the sentiments people have about the American legal system, but I cannot imagine that you’re going to even approach the diligence with which that legal system approaches legal infractions (and it gets it wrong a lot even then).

    Example: Will a jury of the player’s peers have an opportunity to hear from a prosecutor and defense representatives, and will the two have fairly equal resources to make their case? Or will “proof” consist of a Metaplace representative reading an activity log and summarily making judgement? Economically I don’t see how it couldn’t be closer to the latter than the former, and the latter isn’t proof. It’s simply evidence that can be easily manufactured by the complainant (ie the publisher/developer).


    Freedom of assembly.

    Does that mean that users have the right to all move to a single town in a single server instance (if the game in question has that) whenever they wish? WoW is violating their rights by segregating them into servers? This sounds to me a lot like an attempt to address rights of an avatar (which makes no sense to me, frankly, as avatars don’t have rights any more than a PPT has rights) in any case rather than the rights of a player. An MMO (or MUD or virtual world or whatever acronym) operator cannot stop a player from assembling. It can stop a player from using an avatar to assemble, but clearly you can’t be supporting the idea that all worlds must be shard-less and all must have infinite local capacity to handle the entire population in one small area.


    To be treated equally and not discriminated against on the basis of sex, race, or national origin.

    It’s ok to discriminate against someone because she’s in love with another woman but not because someone’s from a country that, say, enslaved yours? I hope this is just an accidental omission and not an intentional one. Just because a bunch of other people were once against interracial relationships (and still are) doesn’t lend any legitimacy to it.

  5. My god, I feel so bad about this, but I can’t help myself:

    Raph wrote:

    Don’t break the law

    What laws? Seriously. Some laws deserve to be broken and you’ve justified these rules by saying they’re “the right thing to do.”

    Example: A law that prohibits someone from espousing his or her belief in a particular God deserves to be broken, and MMO operators could do a lot worse than provide players with a forum to break that kind of law.

    –matt

  6. I’m interested in how the following rights would interact:

    Creators 5. Create and destroy their own world at their discretion with no liability to Metaplace or users.

    and

    Users 5. Own intellectual property they create in a world.

    would seem to be somewhat antagonistic – how can you own IP in a world if that world (and assumably everything in it) can be destroyed at whim by the creator?

    Creators 5. Create and destroy their own world at their discretion with no liability to Metaplace or users.

    and

    Creators 7. Earn and extract economic value from created worlds.

    worry me a little too – if you are making money from your world, then someone else is investing money in it. Do they have no right to protect their investment?

    Creators 6. To be the sovereign power of their created worlds and subject to rights reserved by others to have full power and authority in their created worlds.

    and

    Users 1. Freedom of speech.

    Users 5. Own intellectual property they create in a world.

    Users 7. To be treated equally and not discriminated against on the basis of sex, race, or national origin.

    How would these work together? Could enforced roleplay exist, for example? And what about the old MUD Arch-wizard effect?

  7. Bravo Mr. Koster, Bravo.

    You have taken the first step towards creating a virtual world where the userbase can now consider themselves citizens, rather than customers bound a terms of service. I see great things coming from Areae. The kids up at Battery Street should definitely be taking notes.

    It was nice meeting you at Stanford. 🙂

  8. @Matt

    These are in conflict with each other, aren’t they? Freedom of speech certainly includes the ability to disparage other peoples’ religious beliefs.

    If you do this to their face, I think it can be interpreted as illegal under “fighting words”. Wikipedia says this exists in both US and Canadian law. Fighting words are a limitation on freedom of speech: you may not incite to harm.

    Personally, I agree with this. You can take issue with, provide argument against, or create satire of: others’ religious beliefs. But disparagement goes beyond that into the inky realm of malice. At least, that’s how I understand it. Glancing at the Wikipedia article on disparagement makes me wonder if there are legal nuances that I’m completely unaware of. (Probably.)

    What laws? Seriously. Some laws deserve to be broken and you’ve justified these rules by saying they’re “the right thing to do.”

    Looks more like “Don’t be liable, and don’t make us liable, for crimes in the US.” It’s like the PAX guideline against nerf guns. It’s not that they’re against it; it just causes annoyingly bad legal problems that are better avoided. If a world creator or user gets Metaplace in trouble, they can just say, “They violated the ToS. Their fault.” Which, imo, is completely valid and appropriate.

    @Morgan

    2(a) and 5(b). Technically, intellectual property cannot be “owned” with the sort of permanence usually implied by the term “ownership.” Intellectual property “ownership” is frequently discussed in terms of access rights.

    That doesn’t sound right. Copyright, trademark, and patent are all forms of intellectual property ownership; you don’t have access rights to works that you write: you own it, unless you cede or sell those rights, which is no different from selling owned physical property. Pls enlighten if I’ve got it wrong.

    @Raph

    On the Terms of Service in general,

    Rights of Users #4 (freedom of redress) sounds difficult to implement, since the provision is added for world creators, who may or may not have taken a vacation for an indefinite period of time while letting their world run unchecked.

    I’m sure I’ll have more once I actually start thinking about it. My brain is off.

  9. Michael Chui:

    That doesn’t sound right. … Pls enlighten if I’ve got it wrong.

    I’m not an expert on intellectual property law. From what I’ve read, however, in the book US Intellectual Property Law and Policy (Hansen), an author’s act of creation grants him/her exclusive (or proprietary) rights to copy, access, and assignment, for a limited period following the date of creation. (17 U.S.C. §106)

    An author is not granted such exclusive rights with the sense of permanence that the usual concept of ownership inspires. An author does not own intellectual property “until someone prys the property from his/her cold, dead hands.”

    Authors are “leased” rights by a federal authority and thus by the public. When this lease expires, rights to the property are redistributed to the public — unless the author is Disney, in which case, the lease’s lifetime is amended in law…

    In thinking about copyright, or the “rights of the author” as in French law, we have to consider how the digital age, DMCA and all, affects intellectual property. Some specialists in intellectual property law have taken to explicitly drawing the line between property owners and rights holders in discussing topics such as piracy. For example, music piracy is usually copyright infringement, not theft.

    (§202 describes how intellectual property rights differ from actual property rights. That’s primarily my point: the phrase intellectual “property” is misleading. §1201 describes the access right inherent to the rights of the author.)

    By the way, OT, does “McKinsey” mean anything to you?

  10. Yeah, the only thing I take offense to is the “Not to harm minors in any way or simulate harm to minors” clause. Under US law, this is completely unnecessary, though international considerations may be an issue, because the US Supreme Court has ruled that simulated acts are protected by the First Amendment as long as they don’t actually involve harm to real children.

    As stated, performing a re-enactment of Romeo and Juliet in a Metaplace world would be in violation of the ToS. Juliet is 13, and she kills herself. Do we really want to ban Shakespeare?

  11. I congratulate Raph on a really brave act, taking on freedom of speech in the face of corporate tendencies to restrict speech; robustly affirming capitalism, commerce and profit in the face of rampant game-god socialism everywhere, and not caving to extremists on the matter of banning simulation of harm to minors.

    This is law in the EU and other areas of the world, and presumably Raph wants an international Metaplace.

    Rulings and discussions about obscenity in the U.S. usually make reference to “redeeming social value” — Shakespeare has redeeming social value, and takes the morals of its times where a teenage bridge wouldn’t be an aberration; there’s a big difference between such a work of literature and promoting massive simulation of child rape in virtual worlds which becomes desensitizing and inciteful to real crime.

    It’s also very clear that whether the U.S. rulings today, after the result of lobbying and special interest pressure, you can expect it to be reviewed and possibly revised tomorrow. That’s why Linden Lab decided to junk their own extremist laissez faire literalism about simulated child rape and decided to ban it in SL despite all sorts of techlibs screaming and shouting that this cramped their right to creativity. The one area where virtual worlds are tremendously vulnerable to regulatory actions is where they appear to promote harm to children in any way, and it is this topic that will get conservatives activated more than any other. If you want to hand them a victory by pretending its about Shakespeare, you can do that, but then you’ve incited lots more attention to worlds you had wanted to keep free.

    I’m all for the public participating in regulating games and virtual worlds by law in a democracy society. I don’t think they get to be a special autonomous zone unlike Hollywood or the video game industry or television.

    I’ve blogged about the new bill of rights here: http://secondthoughts.typepad.com/second_thoughts/2008/09/game-god-makes.html

    I’m more concerned about the “disparagement of religion” clause which feeds the Islamic state’s movement to impose a global blasphemy law.

  12. Why does a game company want to be a Government? Can a game company be a Government? Who or what is the Law?

  13. Michael Chui wrote:

    If you do this to their face, I think it can be interpreted as illegal under “fighting words”. Wikipedia says this exists in both US and Canadian law. Fighting words are a limitation on freedom of speech: you may not incite to harm.

    It most certainly is not illegal to disparage someone to his or her face based on his or her religion.

    –matt

  14. Of all the “new” virtual worlds out there these days, Metaplace is the most interesting to me because Raph understands that virtual worlds are more than just technical communications protocols, asset servers, data, and “shiny ultra-realistic rendering algorithms”: virtual worlds are also about real human interactions and therefore require careful thought on policy about rights and responsibilities. Bravo Raph — I hope the other virtual-world creators take note.

  15. I like the direction of it, especially to alter the TOS (when I read it correctly). This is probably the most important rule. For example:

    Some people believe in »Intelligent Design«. Others think that »Han shot first«. So how come that »Han shot first« doesn’t show up as an own rule in the TOS? Why is religion treated differently at all?

    Freedom of Speech is nice. However, at some places, you don’t want it. Likelyhoods are, that there will be many »special interest worlds« where certain users are excluded (by nationality, belief etc.). People will want to simulate/play/discuss/research on their level in »their language«. It cannot be always about clash of cultures all over. Even in the religion context: christians who want to discuss Psalm 667 with other christians, and not bother with scientists, satanists and so forth. There will be the Swede-Shoesize46-Black-Hair minority world which exludes (and bans) everyone who does’t met the criteria. Why not?

    If people want to make Speakers Corner World, then they can go ahead. Right?

  16. It most certainly is not illegal to disparage someone to his or her face based on his or her religion.

    In some countries it is.

    Good stuff, Raph. I assume that world creators can create “historical religious war” themed worlds provided that they make their own Tos and make it explicit?

    Though, I am a bit uncertain of why you single out religion, why not include all the sensitive areas: “race, sexuality and religion” (paraphrasing my local laws)? Of course that would have to be contextualized to the player, not the character.

    One worry: if I create a world I´d rather not be associated with a bunch of worlds that are homophobic, racist, neo-nazi or anti-feminism… Are you sure you don´t want to tighten this a bit more, you can always loosen it up later… *shrugs*

  17. >2. Peacefully represent their religious beliefs, but not to the exclusion or disparagement of others.

    I’m an atheist. I have no religious beliefs. Can I create a world for atheists, on the grounds that there are no “other” religious beliefs for me to exclude, or can’t I because I’m excluding the religious beliefs of everyone other than atheists?

    Explicitly mentioning religious beliefs in rights document is privileging it above reason. This is alarmingly bad from my point of view. I agree that individuals should be allowed to believe whatever bonkers things they want to believe, but I don’t see why I should have to modify my own views so as not to upset them.

    >3. Reasonable processes to resolve grievances with Metaplace.

    This is good. You might want to make people post a $50 bond or something if they invoke this process, though, returnable if their case is found to be valid. Otherwise, you’re going to get 10,000 griefers co-ordinating the simultaneous reporting of grievances on Christmas Day.

    >6. To be the sovereign power of their created worlds and subject to rights reserved by others to have full power and authority in their created worlds.

    What’s this supposed to mean? What “rights reserved by others”? Who are these others, and what rights do they have that they might reserve?

    >8. To be secure in their created worlds so that communications, designated private spaces, and effects, are protected against unreasonable snooping, eavesdropping, searching and seizures. Any such activity will only be undertaken with good reason, such as investigating the violation of the EULA, these Terms of Service, or applicable laws.

    Since you get to define “unreasonable”, this is worthless. Also, it doesn’t say whether it’s proactive or not. Do you get to look at what I’m doing in my virtual sauna because it sounds illegal, or does someone have to complain? If it’s causing your server to crash and you look at what’s going on and suspect I’m breaking some law, will you shut me down or use professional confidence as a defence as a doctor or lawyer might?

    The very length of this clause in comparison with the others ought to be a sign that there’s something amiss with it.

    >9. The enumeration in this document of rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by world creators.

    I’m wondering why the word “disparage” is in there?

    >10. Set up worlds with their own rule sets that may differ from the rules here, so long as they make that rule set available to world users and do not violate the EULA. Any Terms of Service that deviates from the standard Terms of Service must be displayed for world users.

    OK, so I can create a world with no freedom of speech in which I retain all the intellectual property of things created by my players, because even though you grant those rights to me I am under no obligation to grant them to my players.

    This is fair enough, and it’s what I’d expect, except you’d need to be ready to deal with complaints from users of your users’ worlds when they go direct to you to complain about some perceived injustice in the game world, and cite your TOS as vindication.

    >Responsibilities of world creators:
    >1. Not to harm minors in any way or simulate harm to minors.

    You have some means by which we can tell whether someone is or isn’t a minor? Or are you demanding that every world is child-safe?

    >The Terms of Service below is the default for all worlds unless you have created your own Terms of Service.

    Ah, good, we can safely strike out every single one of these, then.

    >1. Freedom of speech.

    Profanity filters interfere with freedom of speech, so I’d want to strike out this clause even if I were generally in favour of freedom of speech. Also, many countries don’t actually have freedom of speech laws, so the term isn’t exactly obvious in its extent. Fighting talk is allowed in the UK, but our slander/libel laws are antiquated and over-powerful. Australia hasn’t enacted any laws on free speech (even those present in the UN treaties it’s signed up to), so it’s hard to see how any Australian user could guarantee freedom of speech in their TOS when they don’t have the right to grant it.

    >2. Freedom of assembly.

    Too many people in one place = crash or molasses. This is something people would want to strike out, too.

    >3. Peacefully represent their religious beliefs, but not to the exclusion or disparagement of others.

    This is a non-starter for me. I’m against it in principle anyway (they get rights to represent their religious beliefs, but not their rational ones?), but even if I were in favour of them it may run up against the game world fiction. For example, I don’t want people representing their Christian or Islamic beliefs in my Ancient Greece world, because those religions hadn’t been invented back then.

    >4. Reasonable processes to resolve grievances with Metaplace and world creators.

    Define “reasonable”, “process” and “grievances” and this might get somewhere.

    >5. Own intellectual property they create in a world.

    What implications of “own” are you presupposing here? Can I demand that my IP is not adulterated in any way and has my name attached to it at all times as creator? Can I remove it at any time (eg. because I sold it)? Can I demand a royalty from Metaplace every time it’s displayed on people’s screens? Or are you just saying that I can use things that I create within the game world outside of it?

    >6. Freely depart worlds as they desire.

    This is the first “right” that I wouldn’t actually strike out, but it’s hard to see how it could ever be relevant. You’re suggesting that people might create worlds and then somehow stop you from leaving, maybe by charging you a subscription in perpetuity in the face of consumer laws designed to prevent just that kind of thing?

    >7. To be treated equally and not discriminated against on the basis of sex, race, or national origin.

    Hmm, I note you don’t have sexuality in there. Gay-bashing is OK? What about ignoring people who are aged over 60, you’re fine with that too? And people with disabilities should expect to get a substandard service?

    Your heart is in the right place with this, but as is so often the case, what sets out to be anti-discriminatory is itself discriminatory.

    You should be saying that people should be treated equally no matter what their real-world situation, unless it impacts on the world you are creating or your business. So if someone has no money, then they will not be treated the same when it comes to buying in-world goods as someone who does have money. If someone only speaks Nepalese, then they are not going to get the same level of service as someone who speaks English. If someone has not been sexually assaulted then they’re not allowed in your rape-counselling crisis centre. If someone can’t see, they can’t expect an audio description to accompany every asset in the game.

    When it comes to characters, as opposed to players, all bets are off. It’s perfectly reasonable to discriminate against male characters (NOT players!) in your medieval world by preventing them from having babies, for example. It may also defensible to have a Merchant of Venice kind of Shakespearean world where Jewish characters (NOT players!) are treated as second-class citizens. What would not be right is if you forced all players to play characters that copied their real-world situation and then denied them rights they had in the real world (so people with XY chromosomes still don’t get to have babies, but Jews do get to avoid being spat at). This is because when you tie characters to players like this, they amount to the same thing.

    As stated, this is another clause I’d strike out, only this time it’s not because it’s bad, it’s because it’s not good enough.

    >8. To be innocent of any violation until proven guilty.

    No, to be PRESUMED innocent until proven guilty. You also need to explain what you mean by “prove”, given that the person doing the proving is likely to be judge, jury and executioner…

    >Responsibilities of Users:

    You’re missing the case when the user creates a sub-world within a world. These rights need to be recursive!

    >1. Not to harm minors in any way or simulate harm to minors.

    So if in my impassioned anti-terrorist game I show a bomb blast going off in an ordinary street, all the adults are blown to bits but the kids are left standing unscathed? It would be simulating harm to minors if they got killed.

    OK, so most of what I’ve said here is negative. I don’t want to give the impression that your overall idea is a bad one, though – far from it! This is Important Stuff: people are going to take what you say and clone it for their own worlds – it could become the de facto standard. This means it has to be clear and bug-free. As a first draft it’s not bad, but it’s vulnerable to exploits and doesn’t think through all the constraints it imposes. There’s a reason that most TsOS don’t have all these conditions, and it’s not to do with developers’ power-craziness. Giving people “rights” is all well and good, but it’s what they can do with them that matters. As it stands, in some cases they can do too much.

    Richard

  18. @Matt, yeah it is. It’s called harassment if it’s persistent, or disturbing the peace if it’s not. There’s a difference between respectfully presenting an argument against a particular religious belief and viciously attacking someone over their beliefs, even if that attack is purely verbal. Right to freedom of speech doesn’t give you the right to also be a jerk; it simply means that you’re allowed to present your opinion without censor. The second you swing your fist, even metaphorically, into someone else’s face, you lose that right.

    We also have hate crime laws in most parts of the US, where vandalism and harassment based on racial or religious slurs (like drawing swastikas on synagogue doors, or burning crosses on people’s front lawns) suffer more extreme penalties than other sorts of vandalism or harassment would.

  19. @BadMisterFrosty, I think that’s covered by the fact that world owners are given the right to set their own ToS that limits the rights of their players in excess of what the default Metaplace ToS does.

    I’m still concerned about the inclusion of the “harm to minors” thing, because that’s from the top, and presumably, cannot be overridden, and it’s a potentially dangerous limitation to content. That either needs to be reworded so that it excludes stuff like Romeo and Juliet, or altered in some other way.

  20. As I mentioned on my blog, I’m not for having any “religious disparagement” clause as that is too much like the “global blasphemy law” that the Islamic nations are trying to push through the UN to address things they find offensive like the Danish cartoons, but to have more broad powers to resist any challenges to religious states.

    Usually the way Richard’s concern is accommodated is to have a phrase, “Freedom of religion or belief”. “Belief” can mean secular humanism or Marxism, unless of course the Marxist won’t be content to admit that he has a “belief” and thinks he has a “science,” but even the Soviets accepted this formulation in their day.

    There can also be a formulation “freedom to believe or not to believe” but this clause in Raph’s bill is not a “Freedom of religion or belief” clause but an undoing of the “freedom of speech clause.”

    Then you have to ask, as Richard has asked, “why only religious belief? why not political belief or national origin or sexual orientation?” But then, once you admit in a long list of entitlement categories seeking relief from free speech about themselves, you no longer have free speech but politically-correct codes. So I would leave it out.

    There isn’t an anti-discrimination section, and maybe there should be, but this might be one in which all those Gorean, BDSM, and wargamers would begin to bitterly protest that it interferes with their gameplay. The point is to have all users equal before the law; that’s usually the formulation “equal before the law”. That means the service doesn’t falsely declare them equal — they aren’t — but it says the law will apply to them equally. Saying they will be “treated equally” also sets up too great a burden; the idea is the law will be applied to them equally, not that every poor person gets an entitlement package to be on par with RL rich players.

    Somehow, I’m not surprised to see Richard Bartle edge-case the “harm to minors” section. In the discussion about this on my blog, I and others really begin to wonder seriously why geeks as a class seem always to play the edgecase game in general, but specifically, always wish to edgecase away any effort to restrict simulation of child rape. They are not taking the high road on this, and I wonder at the origin of their cynicism.

    “Harm to minors” doesn’t mean “things that harm everyone, and minors, too” like a bomb, or air pollution. It means “things that harm minors precisely because they are minors.” So underage drinking, smoking, sex fit into these categories, so tht there can be no consensual sex, but only statutory rape. Why is that so hard to accept? It’s the law in the EU, even if “the simulation of child rape” is something American geeks edgecasing on this discussion constantly point that it is not (yet) a violation in the U.S. You can be sure that soon or later it *will* be raised as an issue as games and virtual worlds become more widespread, and it is on this topic more than any that these spaces will be vulnerable to regulation and closure.

    So at one level, Raph is being practical. Why invite trouble by being a smug and insolent edgecaser and literalist about how much of pornography law will apply in the U.S.?

    On the other hand, Raph is a moral game god by creating a world generating platform that says you cannot simulate harm to minors because he wishes to create civilization, and not destruction of civilization — and that’s ok.

    I’m curious about how the right to form your own TOS will play out against the master template of the TOS. So let’s say Goreans come along to make Gorean Metaplace — they will restrict speech, bind and enslave women, disparage believers in furries and so forth — so they can do that in their space, *as long as they do not encroach on others within the service in other worlds*. I think that’s how it has to obtain — they cannot show up in the public commons clanking their chains and telling everyone else they have to be subdued into their roleplay by calling them “Sir” etc.

    It’s interesting that Richard wasn’t troubled by the “extract value” clauses because whatever his desire for equality of economic status except through skilled gameplay, he cedes the right to the game god to make a buck.

    But judging from the massively.com piece, the idea of worlds with economic opportunity and rights to property by players seemed to infuriate other game gods (as it threatens their power):

    Boyd offers up the ‘unpopular publisher idea’: developers want to be benevolent dictators. They don’t want to own up to that sword having value or the concept that they might have to ‘pay’ players when that sword becomes less valuable.

    Hartsman continued that discussion, noting that ‘real economies are not fun’. Players often go into virtual worlds to escape the problems of economic disparity; ultimately its about player expectations, matching their wants with the reality.

    This invocation of the players’ putative need for equality (and socialist entitlement) in a gameworld isn’t born out by all kinds of phenomena, whether gold farming or side deals or separate worlds encouraging economic activity like Second Life. It’s an ideal that game gods want to impose on players in a utopia, but it’s not an ideal they themselves have to live under — that’s why it’s such a fraud.

    BTW, I do want to point out that no UN rights treaty has “rights and responsibilities”. Only rights. *Not* responsibilities. This is because states must be bound to allow or provide rights under international law, but you do not want them defining “responsibilities” or it will be overreach and because some states will define this very narrowly, too oppressive.

    Encroaching on to society to bind it with responsibilities and duties is seen as overreach by states. Instead, they should have criminal codes that define crimes, and handle the problems of citizens failing to meet obligations to law in that manner. As a moral and civic matter, “responsibilities” are determined by religions, or groups, or schools — whatever the entity that the right of association produces and the code it makes.

    There have been numerous attempts by states like Singapore to introduce the “rights and responsibilities” paradigm and it is always resolutely rejected by the West because it always encroaches on civil and political rights and becomes hard to define in any other way.

    In the virtual world context, people race to reach for “duties and responsibilities” because they find there are such horrible excesses by griefers and they feel they must somehow bind users with some code to prevent their destructiveness.

    In Raph’s bill, fortunately, he doesn’t have any responsibilities like “to promote this world and not others” or that look too onerous or capacious like “To build a Better World” or some such dreck. He only puts in the “harm to minors clause here”. But actually, it isn’t a “responsibility”; as one should take as the default that people will be good and define what bad actions are to deter them in criminal code. Raph didn’t put here “thou shalt not crash the server” but that may fit in somewhere else.

    Most TOS have language about not uploading or disseminating anything that is — and then they have a long list, defamatory, tortious, spam, etc. And that’s precisely how they get rid of free speech. I’m not for Raph handling it that way. I’m not really sure *how* to handle the problem, but I just wanted to flag that the “responsibilities” route is a dangerous precipice.

  21. Prokofy: So let’s say Goreans come along to make Gorean Metaplace — they will restrict speech, bind and enslave women, disparage believers in furries and so forth — so they can do that in their space, *as long as they do not encroach on others within the service in other worlds*.

    Well, but the problem is that the real Goreans (the sexist pigs who actually believe that women should be enslaved because that is how they become true women) does affect the neighbourhood by merely existing in the system. If that is 1 in a billion, ok then it isn´t a big deal, but I can´t say the presence of such worlds did a lot of good to Active Worlds. Live and learn. If I were to do such a thing I´d go for two totally separate brands (and systems of course), one free-for-all and one fun-and-safe. Do you want pedophiles innocently discussing their desires in your entertainment park? Probably not!

  22. @Matt: “What laws? Seriously. Some laws deserve to be broken and you’ve justified these rules by saying they’re ‘the right thing to do.'”

    I read that as don’t break the Real World law, like don’t hack the servers and steal people’s credit card numbers.

  23. @Prok, the problem with it is that many pieces of literature that are considered to be enduring classics, or that are widely considered to be works of art, or otherwise are seen as being beneficial to society overall, fall into the “simulate harm to minors” category when you’re using a phrase that’s that broad.

    Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? Gone (Juilet’s 13, she has sex, she kills herself). The oscar winning movie Traffic? Gone. (Daughter’s 16, drugs, sex). Terry Gilliam’s Tideland? Probably gone as well (Young girl put into some very terrible situations). Grave of the Fireflies? Gone. (13 year old boy is beaten when he steals some crops, and later starves to death and no one helps him or his 5 year old sister). The problem is that the wording is hopelessly broad, and destroys just as much absolutely *valid* work as it prevents questionable work.

    If you have a very narrow definition, like no simulated acts of graphic sex involving minors, then that’s one thing, if you don’t, then you don’t get to gloss over the lack of specificity by claiming that things covered by the vague statement that are generally considered okay are edgecases. If the wording supports their banning, someone will eventually try to ban them, or else the law will be arbitrarily applied depending on what the particular judge happens to find offensive. This is not a good way to have a system of law. The whole point is to acquire as much objectivity as possible, and that means avoiding as much ambiguity as possible.

    If there are as many different ways to interpret a law as there are interpretors, there’s something wrong with the law.

  24. Heh. I ended up forgetting to post this when I wrote it up a few days ago, and it’s still relevant. Scary.

    An author is not granted such exclusive rights with the sense of permanence that the usual concept of ownership inspires. An author does not own intellectual property “until someone prys the property from his/her cold, dead hands.”

    That’s very interesting. *ponders* Since we have Prokofy with us today, could we get a copy of Linden Labs’ legalese on the ownership of IP rights? Now I’m just curious about what the actual terms are.

    By the way, OT, does “McKinsey” mean anything to you?

    Not offhand. It rings a bell, but absolutely nothing else. I probably ran across the name a few times as an undergrad.

    As stated, performing a re-enactment of Romeo and Juliet in a Metaplace world would be in violation of the ToS. Juliet is 13, and she kills herself. Do we really want to ban Shakespeare?

    I think that Metaplace is within its rights to deliberately fail to enforce the ToS in exceptional cases. I’m pretty sure that a service provider can allow anything not explicitly denied by relevant law to happen on their property, even if it violates their own ToS, but they reserve the right to kick someone out for that violation if they want to.

    I could be wrong on that, though; it makes sense and I do know better than to expect that from law. 😛

  25. Eolirin, I can see you’re one of the edgecasing geeks on this subject, who will keep arguing and arguing and arguing about Romeo and Juliet, fictional characters in a play from long ago, and pretending this is relevant to *actual people* whose avatars, while possibly fictionalized, attach to them as real human beings in live time. It’s irrelevant; and also you’re flogging this is immoral. You know full well that Romeo and Juliet is not written nor viewed with intent to harm minors, and does not harm minors or lead to the harm of minors (I’m not aware of any pedophiles who have been arrested with a copy of the book on their shelf) but that child rape simulated in place like OpenLife or SecondLife does indeed appear to correlate with RL crimes — often a tip-off of a purchaser of child pornographer, or related to actual assault — law-enforcers talk about habituation and desensitation in chatrooms

    There isn’t anything wrong with the law; there isn’t anything wrong with Raph’s code here. Rather, there is something wrong with your immorality and edgecasing on this.

    There isn’t any ambiguity in what Raph wrote: do not simulate harm to minors, i.e. do not engage in SL-like “ageplay” depicting child rape. He is not talking about putting on the play Romeo and Juliet that does not involve simulation of child rape.

    There is a difference between telling a story in a written play or book and reading *about* something like harm to a child and *enacting it in real time with other live human beings*. If you can’t understand the difference between fictional characters and online real human beings engaged in role-play, then it’s hopeless to try to talk to you.

    But then, I knew that anyway as you stepped up to edgecase on this, and that’s a marker, as I’ve seen time and again.

  26. , could we get a copy of Linden Labs’ legalese on the ownership of IP rights? Now I’m just curious about what the actual terms are.

    Just go look it up on http://www.lindenlab.com or http://www.secondlife.com

  27. Why do you think it is that of the millions of school children who have read Romeo and Juliet over the years, none of them appear to have been incited to commit suicide from reading it? Why do you think this play isn’t banned?

    And why do you think that a girl on Myspace bullied and ridiculed by a fake persona concocted by a vengeful mother and daughter could be triggered into committing suicide?

    Part of the answer is that because in the first case, fictional characters interact; we watch, we do not really identify to the point of immersion. We set the book down.

    On a Myspace or a Second Life, WE are the fictional characters in the first person. Difference! We enact. We are real, with fictionalized online selves that in fact are rather immersive of the real human typist.

    That’s the difference.

    To fail to understand this human dimension of online life and to keep yammering about Raph’s TOS being ambigious because it would ban Romeo and Juliet means we are once again dealing with a geek who is tone-deaf to the morality of coded virtual worlds merely because they are coded.

  28. Why do you think it is that of the millions of school children who have read Romeo and Juliet over the years, none of them appear to have been incited to commit suicide from reading it?

    Because the story does not glorify suicide, but suggests instead that it’s a bad idea, and that if you just wait a little while things will turn around.

    That said, I just see these as rules that mark some area as out of bounds because not all game makers will have the skill/experience to pull it off without causing a commotion.

  29. Michael Chui:

    Not offhand. It rings a bell, but absolutely nothing else. I probably ran across the name a few times as an undergrad.

    Oh, there’s a “Michael Chui” on LinkedIn, a senior expert at McKinsey & Company. I thought he might be you since you both are located in the Bay area. There’s also a web developer at WhitePages.com, a personal banker at Wells Fargo, and a vice president at Bank of America. Coincidence that they all deal in information? 😉

    Rik:

    That said, I just see these as rules that mark some area as out of bounds because not all game makers will have the skill/experience to pull it off without causing a commotion.

    Then again, these rules also prohibit game developers who do have the skill/experience from creating such works.

  30. Oh, there’s a “Michael Chui” on LinkedIn, a senior expert at McKinsey & Company. I thought he might be you since you both are located in the Bay area. There’s also a web developer at WhitePages.com, a personal banker at Wells Fargo, and a vice president at Bank of America. Coincidence that they all deal in information? 😉

    First, I deny cloning myself and manipulating the economy from behind the scenes to effect drastic change in the country. On second thought, where’s that Fifth Amendment when a guy needs it?

    Second, I’m the WhitePages one. I’m fresh out of college, dude. I’m senior nothing. 😛

    Because the story does not glorify suicide, but suggests instead that it’s a bad idea, and that if you just wait a little while things will turn around.

    Someone tell me how many girls and pre-pubescent boys have stabbed themselves after playing the part of Juliet.

    In a play.

    You guys are aware that Romeo & Juliet is, um, not a novel, right? It’s played by human actors on a stage. Kind of like, oh, I don’t know… a simulation?

  31. Prok, what I’m saying is that the rule doesn’t say ANYTHING about whether there was an intent to harm real minors. Nor does it specify that only things that could be harmful to *real* people are banned. It says that ANY simulation of harm to a minor is not allowed. It doesn’t talk about intent, it doesn’t talk about value, it simply says you can’t simulate harm to a minor.

    And there is huge ambiguity. There’s no definition of “harm” at all. You’re defining it as ageplay because that’s what you want it to apply to, but then it should bloody SAY ageplay. Ten other people may apply different meanings to the word in the same context, based on what they personally feel is inappropriate and there’s no guideline for which of them is correct.

    So what I am saying is that vague and interpretable wording in something that has enforcable consequences is bad, mmkay? And that you need to be specific and explicit if you want to do what you’re saying. This is not an arguement over concept, it’s an argument over implementation. I have no problems banning ageplay. I do have huge problems banning things that are perfectly justified on account of the fact that they’re not protected by the wording. If you want to ban ageplay, you ban ageplay, not some generic “harm”. If you can’t see past your own face far enough to get that I’m done talking to you.

  32. @Rik, the intent or message of the scene in which Juilet kills herself is irrelevant. It doesn’t say that you can’t simulate harm to minors except when you’ve got a culturally sound reason for doing so (not that this would help much without defining what culturally sound means, but eh). It just says you can’t do it period.

    That’s why the rule is bad. It ignores the context of the act entirely.

  33. […] Legal, Virtual worlds%Excerpt%Continue reading Picking apart the MetaPlace Bill of Rights Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments […]

  34. 1. I agree with other comments — good first draft; could benefit from describing the intentions and possible applications of each rule.

    2. The one thing I noticed that hasn’t been specifically asked about was this:

    >Not to harm minors in any way or simulate harm to minors.

    I agree that this is an appropriate responsibility, but why is it limited to minors?

    I guess that it’s intended to reflect the special limits most law-oriented societies place on what adults are permitted to do to minors since they (minors) are considered legally incompetent to consent to some behaviors. But the way this rule is given, it sounds as though only minors are to be guarded from harm in Metaplace worlds. Why? Shouldn’t “Do no harm to world creators or users” be one responsibility and “Do none of the following specific forms of special harm to minors: X, Y, and Z” be a separate rule to cover the more specific limitations we impose in the real world? Or does “do no harm to any world creator or user” sufficiently cover all cases?

    That, of course, raises the question: what constitutes “harm?” If some act or behavior is to be prohibited, doesn’t it need to be defined?

    Or is that more of a legislative/interpretive function that world creators and users should be expected to work out between themselves in some analog to (for example) U.S. Code?

    3. >>9. The enumeration in this document of rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by world creators.

    >I’m wondering why the word “disparage” is in there?

    This appears to be a simple conversion of the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    The Federalists opposed the attachment of a separate Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution on the grounds that stating some specific additional restrictions on federal power could be used to imply that anything else the national government wanted to do must therefore be permissible. The Ninth Amendment was composed by James Madison to address that concern by attempting to clearly spell out that rights not specifically enumerated were considered to be held by the people, not the government, and that the statement of some specific restrictions on federal power did not imply that the government could arrogate any or all unspecified rights held by the people to itself. (The Tenth Amendment continued this attempted line of defense.)

    In other words, “disparage” as used here doesn’t have the modern sense of “to make fun of”; the meaning from the Constitutional usage (and, presumably, Raph’s intended meaning) was closer to “infringe on” or “reduce the applicability of.”

    So, with that background stuff in mind, is this a useful and necessary catch-all rule for a Metaplace Bill of Rights and Responsibilities? We could probably debate that — in particular, it’s interesting that it shows up in the rights of both world creators and users. That’s different from its source, the U.S. Constitution, in which this rule was clearly intended to protect one group from another — it wasn’t a reciprocal protection as in the Metaplace BoR&R.

    So is this a rule that can work as a reciprocal rule, sort of like Stephen Jay Gould’s “non-overlapping magisteria” heuristic for defining separate spheres of authority for religion and science so that they can coexist? Or is the power of world creators, like that of a national government, considered something so likely to be corrupted over time toward usurping the rights of world users that only their rights need to be specifically defended from denial or disparagement?

  35. […] Koster announced that Metaplace will use his heralded Avatar Bill of Rights as the foundation of the Terms of Service […]

  36. This “Terms of Service” should probably be labelled a “Code of Ethics.”

    When the phrase “terms of service” is used, people naturally expect intense specificity. Your attorney should be consulted since the phrases “terms of use” and “terms of service” have special meanings in law as contracts.

    Establishing ethical standards and means for resolving dilemmas, both to which users would be obligated to peruse and recognize with digital signatures, would be more sophisticated than trying to brute force an unenforceable pseudo-agreement.

  37. Congratulations Raph. You’ve put your beliefs into play, so to speak, and skipping the semantics and interpretations for a second, this sets a tone and governing philosophy that I think is amazing.

    I blogged more generally about this at http://dusanwriter.com/?p=920 but I wanted to pick up on what a few people touched on, which is the “reasonable process”. Because it strikes me that while there are sound arguments for or against the specific rights and clauses, a great deal of the power in this TOS will be in how it’s enforced, and in the transparency of that enforcement.

    Just to pick a small example, the word “disparage” – say there’s an abuse report using this clause…and you’re the judge of the ‘case’ versus Bartle…somehow, and I don’t know if this is true, but I’d suspect that you could end up with two interpretations of what’s a disparagement.

    Now, you have two alternatives – one is to nit pick on every single word and clause now, and the other is to get as close as you can to fair principles but to realize that like emergent game play, maybe, there will be an emergent and evolutionary interpretation of these rights.

    The power of expressing these as avatar rights is that it sets a tone, philosophy and broad guidelines for rights, but the second half of the challenge is in their enforcement, interpretation, and evolution over time.

    One of the things I find irritating, challenging and damaging is the lack of transparency, in most games and worlds, with the enforcement system. I’m not even talking here about anonymity, I’m talking about the lack of a properly published history of claims and decisions.

    It’s sort of fascinating to think of this, in a way, as the establishment of case law – and I’d even propose that this should be widely available, so that other platform owners can learn from this case law.

    I’d love to see, in Metaplace for example, a published disclosure of claims and the judgment. The participants or users could be anonymous, but it would help to establish a sense of transparency, and would create continuity. Let’s face it – you personally won’t be judging all the A/Rs, and what you want to do is establish a body of knowledge so that the guy on the night shift is relatively consistent with the woman banning avatars at noon.

    Over time, a few ‘precedent’ cases would probably emerge. These precedents would be more fully documented – why is it a precedent, what was the reasoning behind the decision.

    I think the actual mechanisms for who, when and why judgments are made will always rest, to a greater rather than lesser degree, on the ‘platform owners’ but by coupling a TOS like this with transparent documentation on cases which allow you to trace the evolution of decisions, it means that users aren’t left parsing hints in blog posts, sudden changes in policy, or the meaning of what “it” is.

  38. Your attorney should be consulted since the phrases “terms of use” and “terms of service” have special meanings in law as contracts.

    Heh! Our lawyer WROTE this. And it has taken a few months of intense discussion. This isn’t me winging it! 🙂

  39. […] Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments […]

  40. Raph:

    Heh! Our lawyer WROTE this. And it has taken a few months of intense discussion. This isn’t me winging it! 🙂

    Uh, well, new lawyer?

  41. Uh, well, new lawyer?

    I suggest to you the possibility that the lawyer in question (who has written dozens of VW EULAs and TOSes, and is a top expert in virtual world law) probably knows more about this than you do. 🙂

  42. Raph:

    probably knows more about this than you do.

    More than likely, but I never said otherwise.

    If whoever wrote this “terms of service” can confidently say that they can defend this in court should such a situation ever arise, then hopefully they can successfully do so. But Metaplace is your business, so if you’re not just as confident, then obtaining a second opinion would be in your best interests. That’s all I’m saying.

  43. […] Koster announced that the Terms of Service for Metaplace will be based on his oft-cited “A Declaration of the […]

  44. I’d love to see, in Metaplace for example, a published disclosure of claims and the judgment. The participants or users could be anonymous, but it would help to establish a sense of transparency, and would create continuity.

    Hear hear, very cool concept, provided that not only the identity, but the specifics are anonymized (otherwise identification will be way too easy).

  45. @41 Ola –

    I agree. The substantive point is to use the judgments as a way to communicate to the community specifically how the TOS has been interpreted against specific cases. By so doing, precedents will emerge that will help clarify the interpretation of the TOS – which, as we can see from the many responses in this thread, can be highly subjective no matter how tightly drafted the TOS is in an attempt to cover all eventualities.

    Now, just because a precedent has been set, it won’t mean that it can’t be over-turned in time. Which is fine – but at least then there will be a tight coupling of ‘policy decisions’ by the platform owners to the enforcement procedures rather than what happens now – you have to read the “tea leaves” of enforcements to figure out whether it was a governance/AR response team member having a bad day, or an actual shift in the governing philosophy or business model by the platform owner.

  46. One thing I might do with the entire document is extend to preamble to spell out the spirit of the Terms, which can be referred to in case of subjective interpretation.

  47. Great idea!

    Specially the right to write our own TOS, since TOS even when it never ceases to be a contract between a provider and its clients. It behaves like citizen’s constitution. So having a say on it, makes it more like a society than a hosted game.

    Now, I would like to see the right to be informed about some of its, less pretty, phenomenons like, Internet Addiction. Please read more on
    http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/MISC-1515?ticket=ST-525-J2QuBUfqEqOrUOTR6vsNpNYPnWAUq2fc7ki-20

    I know this is not pretty, I invite you to discuss this matter on JIRA and if you think this is appropiate please vote on this to be added to TOS.

    Again congratulations on this initiative.

  48. Raph, could you address the concerns about the vagueness of the “harm” clause at least?

  49. Eolirin, could you explain your need to continue to justify the simulation of harm to minors?

  50. Dusan has a great idea — really important. The biggest problem with the AR system in Second Life is the utterly fake “police blotter” where the Lindens publish only some tiny fraction of cases for which they’ve meted out disciplinary action — and only 25 at a time for a few days, before it disappears into the memory hole.

    I think it is hugely important to publish the name of the avatar who made the claim or abuse report, the name of the person found guilty of the violation, the type of infraction and section of the TOS, the date and location, and the prosecuting official’s name.

    In other words, exactly as it is done in real life.

    The Lindens and their very, very fierce fanboyz hate the idea of publicizing this information because they fear “retribution”. They love the idea of publishing the perpetrator’s name to continue goading and shaming him beyond the bounds of law — they’d like to be able to add additional punishment to ban someone they see on the punishment list — but they hate the idea of the publication of the name of the person who made the abuse report. They think that person will suffer reprisals — because they see it as a punitive system that keeps punishing — and would make the perpetrator suffer additional reprisals.

    I think game gods have to face the music and publish it anyway. What kind of world are they running if the publication of the name of a person making a claim leads to retaliation? They have to be able to then deter such retaliation to establish their own authority and the rule of law.

    By publishing the name of the person making the claim or AR, they go a very long way to removing all the ARs that are merely settling scores, petty forms of harassment, or counter-claims made because they’ve been AR’d. LL claims they don’t get many of these; we don’t believe them because they don’t publish the information. Vengeance-driven ARs happen all the time in these worlds, as to biased game god decisions, so the way to curb that is through transparency.

    The ability of people to make anonymous police-informant style complaints without taking any civic responsibility before the community for their action by publishing their names is at the heart of a lot of the viciousness of these worlds. It can easily be made to stop by publishing the names *when* a finding is made and a punishment meted out at the very least (publishing all claims, even those found false, would be a further evolved step).

    Having a clause that filing false claims is itself a violation is not enough of a deterrent.

    Dusan has also captured the heart of the difference between the civil and the common law systems, between a magisterial trial and an adversarial trial, and the role of precedent in a common-law system is obviously vital. I thin it would be very beneficial to have virtual worlds have a common-law system where the TOS doesn’t attempt to define every single possible interpretation in advance, as fiskers like Eolirin are asking him to do about “harm to minors” but to have a basic concept that is basically understandable (as that one is) to those who are in good faith (instead of constantly looking for trouble) and then publish any decisions made under it so that gradually interpretive powers and precedent are built up over time.

  51. Prokofy, could you explain your want to retain the ambiguity of the language of this contract?

  52. Raph, could you address the concerns about the vagueness of the “harm” clause at least?

    I need to do a more general response to comments here and elsewhere, as well as a revision meeting based on some of the feedback, i think!

    That said, the clause there is driven by European law, not US law, since it is the more stringent case.

  53. You know what, I wrote a longish piece going into more detail while the ambiguity is bad, but you’re probably not even going to bother paying attention to what I’m saying anyway, so just answer Morgan’s question or stop talking.

    But also, remember, while Metaplace is designed to work as a Virtual World toolkit, it’s by no means *limited* to that. Single player games are just as possible, and I very much expect that we’ll see worlds that are being built as single player games with single player narrative, and this applies to them just as much as it does to worlds where players can interact with each other. You can’t apply the rule *just* in context of a Second Life like situation. There’s a much more chilling impact on narrative than there is on virtual world mechanics.

    I’m not at all worried over banning ageplay, that should be done, but I am concerned about banning important narrative tools, and as written, this does that.

  54. Prok, ambiguity even in a common law system is *not* desirable. That’s why we shut down overly broad laws and overreaching legislature in the US. The system of justice using judges and juries has been established due the recognition that no matter how perfect you make your laws, there will always be holes in them. That’s not an excuse to be lazy in the law making department and over reach though; you don’t get to throw up your hands saying “well, we can be loose in how we go about things, the courts can deal with it”.

    Doing so opens the door to a great deal of corruption, and especially when you’re capable of doing it in a clearer, more defined, way to begin with, there’s no point in opening it to excessive interpretation. You get further and further removed, in practice, from the intent the greater and greater leeway there is in interpretation.

    You do not want your courts writing legislation, that’s not their job. Using them to define the bounds of your rules when you can do it yourself is not a good tact to take.

    And such a rule has a chilling effect on people *in* good faith. That’s actually where the greatest amount of issue lies; it’s not with the people that are trying to abuse the situation, they’ll do that anyway. The rule makes it so that it’s better not to have any minors involved at all, because there’s no guidelines in existence to tell you what’s acceptable or not. There isn’t even a hint that culturally sound uses or tactful use is in fact okay; you’ve simply got a rule with no context behind it, and that means that anyone who sees it, and doesn’t want to risk running afoul of it, in good faith, avoids the issue entirely.

    This is somewhat academic without an actual history of behavior on the part of Areae of course, precedent could solve much of it, but that means that people would have to violate the letter of the rule to find out what Areae does in response; if no one takes that step, no one finds out, and you lose any potential good that could come out of exploring certain topics. A clearer definition removes the need to worry about that, and allows people to act in good faith.

  55. @ Eolirin: Maybe it depends on what you mean by specificity, but I’d like to lend a few thoughts to argue that, while it’s good to try to be clear, too much specificity (or clarity, or a way of preventing “excessive interpretation”) may not either be possible or desirable:

    First, I think this is a unique jurisdiction to say the least. And it’s one in which the legal instruments and codes of conduct that bind the ‘platform’ are cross-jurisdictional when they’re brought into intersection with real world law. I can see instances where it’s important NOT to be too specific, because that specificity may leave the platform owner vulnerable in one legal jurisdiction versus another.

    (Which leads into a whole other discussion of “which jurisdiction applies” but I’ll avoid that for now – isn’t it Bartle who’s proposing that we lobby for the country in which a world is hosted to apply? I can’t remember, I’d have to jump over to Terra Nova I guess, it might have been someone else.)

    Aside from the intersection with ‘real world’ legalities there’s the issue that you so rightly point out when applied to Metaplace (or, for that matter, when applying Raph’s idea of a universal avatar bill of rights that could be adopted by ALL MMOs or virtual worlds) – namely, that the game mechanics of individual worlds have such a broad range that it’s better to leave the TOS as expressing a ‘spirit of intent’ and the interpretation of that spirit to specific instances and precedents – some of which might be based on the particular game mechanics or environment.

    What I mean is, you can write a TOS so that it covers every single possible game mechanic and keep revising it when new mechanics come out, or you can write it in a spirit of intent and then interpret it as it becomes necessary – which furthers the need for transparency around judgments, because those individual judgments might be reflective not of an overall policy, but of an interpretation that was valid in the specific game instance.

    Jack Balkin wrote about this a while ago when discussing three kinds of virtual liberty: the freedom to play, the freedom of the owner to plan, construct and maintain, and the collective right of the owner and players to design together. He makes these distinctions because as he points out, you could have an MMO called The Gulag Online, modeled after Soviet-era prisons. The right to play intersects with the right of the owner to design – you don’t have a right to be free, you have a right to experience the world that the owner has constructed.

    Finally, one of the joys of MMOs and game space is emergent play. And this is important because the code of conduct and TOS that governs a world can, in fact, be a source of emergent play. I’m not advocating griefing, but I do advocate for the innovation and opportunity that can arise when players and game owners dance the dance of pushing up against the limits of both the technology and the policies that govern the space.

    Emergent play is a critical component to MMOs and games. “Excessive interpretation” in your books, is emergent play in mine, maybe – which isn’t to say that you don’t plug the obvious and egregious leaks, but it does mean that you need to expect a bit of evolution in how the TOS is interpreted and refined over time – it’s what proves a world is really a world and not a science project.

    In fact – hasn’t the real world benefited from emergent play? Or at least emergent sociality (or anti-sociality)? We don’t have the benefit of 1,500 years of precedent in MMOs and virtual worlds just yet – but give it some time.

  56. Dusan:

    I think you’re forgetting that the most important and required element of a valid, enforceable contract is a meeting of the minds. A meeting of the minds cannot exist, and therefore a contract cannot be valid and enforceable, when ambiguity leaves the terms of a contract open to interpretation.

    This is why I suggested refocusing the “terms of service” as a code of ethics, which only establishes the principles on which ethical decisions should be made and leaves the people (i.e., the users) with the responsibility to make such decisions. A code of ethics is conducive to an environment where you want people to adapt and develop such principles to conform to any number of scenarios.

  57. Morgan – I don’t disagree. Although, I have to say, it kind of takes the punch out of Raph’s original concept on which this is based where he proposed to declare the rights of avatars. Declaring a code of ethics sounds soooo Washington.

  58. Eolirin, again, could you explicate your motivation for wishing to justify the actions of those simulating child pornography and child rape? Then it’s a valid discussion.

    Discussions about why “we” don’t need to have overbroad legislation or why “we” don’t allow legislation to be so overbroad as to cramp freedom of creativity are all obvious and banal. Raph knows that. We all know that.

    What is needed here is an explication of *your own* motivation for wishing to justify the actions of those simulating child rape. These might include:

    o lack of revulsion
    o belief that simulated rape isn’t really rape because it’s simulation
    o failure to understand law in the EU
    o wilful ignorance about how U.S. congressmen and media will deal with this issue
    o edgecasing just to be obnoxious
    o and so on

    Until you can grapple with your own need to justify what everyone pretty much can concede is necessary for moral or pragmatic reasons, it’s not really possible to have this discussion because you keep ranting with fake moral rectitude that other people are crushing freedom by making this stipulation, and we can only say you are immoral when you place it in moral terms that way.

  59. Eolirin: I’m not at all worried over banning ageplay, that should be done, but I am concerned about banning important narrative tools, and as written, this does that.

    Uhm, how is that possible? You get to write your own TOS if you are unhappy with the standard one!

  60. Raph, Here’s a press story about the latest round in this battle at the UN regarding “defamation of religions” which many saw as an attempt by the OIC to install a global blasphemy law. The point is that language that bars “incitement to hatred”, while not great either from First Amendment perspectives, would be better than “disparagement of religion”.

    UN victory for freedom of expression

    20 September 08 – The Human Rights Council has ruled that it s not necessary to establish a norm for defamation of religion.

    Stéphane Bussard/Le Temps – It’s a small victory for the defenders of free expression. The concept of defamation of religion promoted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and some African countries did not find favor in the Human Rights Council. It was this theme that concerned all member states this Spring and remains an issue that threatens the follow-up conference on racism (Durban II) which will be held in Geneva next April. If the Council cedes this point, warn certain Western nations ‘it is the end of the Council’s credibility’. On Thursday, Githu Muigai, the Special Rapporteur for contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, found it was not necessary to promote the sociological concept of defamation of religion but rather to adhere to juridical norms when it comes to inciting racial or religious hatred.

    In his report presented yesterday, Githu Muigai repeated the conclusions of his predecessor, Doudou Diène, France’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva. Speaking for the European Union, Jean-Baptiste Mattéi also applauded the reversal. ‘It is fundamental to make a distinction between criticizing religions and inciting religious hatred. Only the latter … should be banned.’ For France’s Ambassador, freedom of expression is an essential element for democracies. ‘One does not reduce tensions by preventing ideas about religion and belief.’

    Speaking for Switzerland at the Council, Roberto Balzaretti also gave his support for this distinction. He referred to the report by Doudou Diène which compared a popular initiative against minarets to xenophobia. ‘The initiative in question reflected the position of a group of citizens and not that of Swiss authorities.’ The Ambassador stressed that Bern recommended defeating the initiative.

    Several Western and Latin American countries supported the refusal to create a new norm for defamation of religion. But some states with a Muslim majority have nevertheless did not give up. Algeria’s Ambassador to the UN, Idriss Jazaïry, rebelled against this vision of free expression. “Islamophobia has taken the place of anti-Semitism which has become politically incorrect in many rich nations. Freedom of expression must not allow the creation of a new form of anti-Semitism. [ed: Arabic is also a Semitic language] against Arabs and Muslims.’

    The Syrian representative to the UN, Abdulmonem Annan, deplores the fact that ‘nations and institutions continue to interpret freedom of expression in an abusive manner to humiliate certain religious groups. He added that ‘it is surprising that freedom of expression doesn’t apply when one speaks of the siege of Gaza.’ At the end of the brief debate in the Council, the issue of defamation of religion was buried but there is no guarantee it won’t be resurrected.

    Translation from French by Pamela Taylor
    http://www.humanrights-geneva.info/UN-victory-for-freedom-of,3518

  61. Eolirin, again, could you explicate your motivation for wishing to justify the actions of those simulating child pornography and child rape? Then it’s a valid discussion.

    How does that make the discussion remotely valid or even passingly on-topic?

  62. Dusan>isn’t it Bartle who’s proposing that we lobby for the country in which a world is hosted to apply?

    I think it was Ren Reynolds.

    The jurisdiction problems wouldn’t go away, of course. One day, we probably will get virtual worlds that are distributed across users’ computers, or that run on servers located on ships sailing the high seas.

    Where jurisdiction wouldn’t be so hard to assert is in the individual, because people can be associated with a location more easily. If I’m in the USA, then the USA can apply its laws to me; when I get back to the UK, then the UK can apply its laws to me. In some cases, it can even do this if I did something which would have been illegal had I done it in the UK but which wasn’t illegal where I did it.

    Richard

  63. […] has been quite lively, and many excellent points were raised for possible revisions, many posted right here on the site in the discussion thread. I plan to reconvene with the lawyers and this feedback and present another draft for the Internet […]

  64. Eolirin, again, could you explicate your motivation for wishing to justify the actions of those simulating child pornography and child rape? Then it’s a valid discussion.

    I don’t read his objections that way at all, and I doubt many others do, either…so lets drop the straw-man fallacy, please. Though being read differently from different perspectives also reveals an ironic vindication for his position from yourself.

    I do see merit in his questioning of when thoughtful or artistic themes are being communicated through actions that could be defined as simulating harm to minors. Where this expressive media butts up against causing actual harm will probably still be getting debated by our grandchildren’s grandchildren.

  65. Kerri Knight:

    I do see merit in his questioning of when thoughtful or artistic themes are being communicated through actions that could be defined as simulating harm to minors.

    As I’ve pointed out, “harm” must be defined. Intentional harm can be malicious, but harm can also be caused to protect or as a product of friendship or intimacy. A pinch can be harmful, as can battery, but so can ridicule. To cause harm shouldn’t be presumed unethical or illegal. Harm can be an unintentional result of negligence, chance, or an Act of God. Harm need not be physical or emotional. Harm can be economic, in which case such harm might be tortious rather than criminal.

    To “[n]ot harm minors in any way or simulate harm to minors” bars an incredible volume of content that nobody has any business prohibiting.

  66. Kerri, once again, it’s absolutely the right question to ask, because TOS interpretation depends on a sense of shared civilization and culture among people.

    Could Eolirin explicaet his motivation for wishing to justify the actinos of those simulating child pornography and child rape or any harm to children? (i.e. smoking, drinking).

    It isn’t a straw man at all; it goes to the heart of the matter, and stops the endless Fisking and edgecasing that geeks so often indulge in on a forums like this.

    It’s purely preposterous to understand the *intent* of Raph Koster and his best lawyers as somehow infringing on “thoughtful or artistic themes…communicated through actions that could be defined as simulating harms to minors.” Raph and his lawyers have done no such thing; in fact, they’ve hit upon an utterly simple, comprehensible, hassle-free way to address this problem, and make it possible for them to go on to interpret cases as they come up in a way that will not harm art or children.

    SO the core of the matter really is the morality of edgecasing under these circumstances, literalizing, and handwringing about “freedoms” that are supposedly “in jeopardy”.

    There’s only one way to get someone doing that to come back down to earth from this fake philosophizing grounded in nothing. WHAT is your motivation for justifying simulation of harm to a child?

    Once you can make a straightforward statement about this, then you might be legitimate in your edgecasing nonsense about Romeo and Juliet.

    Otherwise, it’s just geeky obnoxious posturing, not taken as sincere, and in fact opened up to real questions about one’s morality.

  67. Morgan, could you, too, explicate your motivations for wishing to justify harm to minors?

    This sort of statement is utterly unsupported and fatuous, and meant merely to carve out some special privileges of “art” for those who simulate harm to minors on the grounds that it’s “not real”:

    “To “[n]ot harm minors in any way or simulate harm to minors” bars an incredible volume of content that nobody has any business prohibiting.

    There isn’t any volume of content of this nature. You don’t have any compelling examples shown whatsoever. Romeo and Juliet is a lame example because it’s in a different cultural context, and everyone knows it.

    So once again, what is *your motivation in our own cultural context* for *justifying harm to minors*?

  68. To “[n]ot harm minors in any way or simulate harm to minors” bars an incredible volume of content that nobody has any business prohibiting.

    Uhm, but the ToS isn´t Area´s. It is the ToS of the world creator. So you are saying that the world creator cannot prohibit whatever he wants to regarding free speech in his own fictional creation?

  69. It’s purely preposterous to understand the *intent* of Raph Koster and his best lawyers as somehow infringing on “thoughtful or artistic themes…communicated through actions that could be defined as simulating harms to minors.”

    Congratulations. Now you know why the issue is being brought up. Because Eolirin does not believe that that’s the intent of Raph and his lawyers, and does not wish that their legal document fail to properly reflect their intent.

    Spirit of the law versus letter of the law. You should know this one, Prokofy.

  70. If Romeo and Juliet is a “lame” example (and as one of the founders of the Golden Brew Players, I hardly think so), how about a licensed game world based on the Harry Potter series? Contemporary, wildly popular… and it would miserably fail the “harm to minors” test.

    I’m not opposed to the provision, but if the aim is to surpress child pornography and other forms of abuse, target the language to those goals. “Harm to minors” is far too broad.

  71. I am totally with Prok on this, I prefer “no harm to minors” the way it is. It basically just says that worlds that are likely to cause distress have to launch their own TOS. I.e. you have to warn users if you touch such topics. So what? A good idea. Kids and parents deserve to be warned. Heck, if it was more specific I would launch my own Tos with the original wording. Allow loopholes and the snotty ones will locate them and argue over it. I don´t have time for that…

  72. Not to harm minors in any way or simulate harm to minors.

    A few more problems with this article…

    “Minors” is not defined. Although 18 is the dominant legal age of majority throughout the world, the age of majority is not a set global standard. In Scotland, the age of majority is 16. In some countries, the age of majority differs for both men and women, such as in Pakistan. In Samoa, the age of majority is 14.

    If by “minors,” only children are intended, then the article should further delineate between children and adolescents, and specific age ranges should be defined.

    The age of majority should not be confused with the age of license. In the United States, for example, one who has reached the age of majority, 18, is not entitled to the right to purchase alcohol; one must reach the age of license, 21. The age of majority is conferred on those minors who are married or emancipated.

    There are also legal considerations when attempting to apply contractual restraints to minors in the United States. Most contracts are voidable by minors, who can choose to not be bound to a contract at any time. That problem can be somewhat solved by requiring parents or guardians to cosign with minors.

  73. Yukon, I’m probably the last person in America who has not read the Harry Potter series, and won’t be any time soon, if ever. Could you bring me up to date? Does Harry smoke and drink, or is he sexually abused in these stories? If not, I would suggest if the “harm” means “he scrapes his knee while learning to fly or fight dragons,” that’s not what everyone understands by the phrase in Raph’s bill.

    Could you also explain your motivation for wishing to justify the simulation of harm to minors? Because your claim to be concerned about misunderstanding what this really means, by citing a child’s novel, isn’t withstanding scrutiny.

  74. I want to ask Raph about something unrelated to this last bit: a hallmark of the SL TOS is the banning on the copying and publication of chat transcripts within the service, i.e. forums, inworld, listserves. There is always a battle to be had about third-party sites as well, as there is always a tendency of some Lindens and their fans to try to extend their jurisdiction to third-party sites by threatening people who might publish chat logs on those sites. They haven’t crossed that line fully, but they’ve come close and there has been regular howling on this, particularly from me.

    I wonder if the Bill of Rights will have some “other” TOS or community standards also put with it, that will be somehow “operational” and might address something like publication of chat logs. As with other moral issues, I’m not for attempting to legislate personal or journalistic morality by banning the publication of chatlogs.

    When you talk about “privacy” for creators and users, do you mean “real life information” or could this include the publication of logs?

  75. Yukon, I’m probably the last person in America who has not read the Harry Potter series, and won’t be any time soon, if ever. Could you bring me up to date? Does Harry smoke and drink, or is he sexually abused in these stories? If not, I would suggest if the “harm” means “he scrapes his knee while learning to fly or fight dragons,” that’s not what everyone understands by the phrase in Raph’s bill.

    Wow. Even I read the entire series once just to make sure I wasn’t as out of touch as you appear to be.

    Besides, in what part of Romeo & Juliet is any character sexually abused, smoking, or drinking? What do you imagine is not Harry Potter that is in Romeo & Juliet, that makes it more acceptable and culturally relevant?

  76. “To be innocent of any violation until proven guilty.”

    Usually followed by ‘in a court of law’ with all that infers.

    You may be requiring a world owner/creator/whatever to set up a court or offering courts as a Metaplace service. Given virtual world law is becoming a real profession, it might be viable.

  77. “..that geeks so often indulge in on a forums like this.”

    I’m going off topic for a moment because Prokofy really seems to enjoy using the word “geek” and I don’t find it particularly offensive. Guilty as charged, I suppose. Wikipedia defines Geek as a “peculiar or otherwise odd person, especially one who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, gaming, etc.” By that definition Prokofy, welcome aboard!

  78. “Push” by Sapphire

    Incredible themes of personal self-discovery and enlightenment are communicated in this story…which also contains depictions of child rape and incest. Without these passages, understanding the nature of what kind of consequences they had on Precious would be nearly impossible to understand.

    I think it would be hard to find anyone who has read this piece that would conclude it is defending or justifying those who do such in real life. Actually, it does much of the opposite. It would be difficult to explore the depth of these issues without detailing and exampling the very behavior in question.

    The very bringing up of an activity or idea is not a justification, endorsement, or defense of it.

    I don’t like, in the least bit, any harm coming to minors (or anyone else, for that matter). However, I’m likewise not ignorant to the fact that depictions or descriptions of such can be used in a larger context that ultimately speaks against them.

  79. “Hansel and Gretel” by the Brothers Grimm (features kidnapping, child slavery, child abuse, cannibalism theme, murder by children)

    “Little Red Riding Hood” adapted by the Brothers Grimm (features a girl being eaten by a wolf, ogre, or werewolf; possible rape or molestation in earlier versions)

    “The Whipping Boy” by Sid Fleischman (features an orphan child who is whipped as punishment for the wrongs of another)

    “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens (features an orphan child who’s abused, enslaved, or otherwise forced into labor and criminalism)

    “Smallville”, the TV series (features various teens who are abused, locked away in basements, kidnapped, thrown down stairs, beaten, stabbed, shot, run over, tossed long distances into walls and windshields, and attacked in many other ways)

    A short story, by yours truly, that features a young woman who is abused by her father and locked away inside a niche below a floor hatch.

    Not certain about content. Been awhile:

    “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

    “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

    “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier

  80. Morgan, people enacting these acts are not fictional characters as in a novel, in a medium where the characters stay flat on the page, or vivid in your imagination, but don’t *exist in the real world*. People enacting these acts in a virtual world *are real people*. Therefore this cop-out, this dodge, this ducking of morality that takes place here, saying that “even if they’re real, what they do is isn’t real” is truly wrong. Because of course it *is* real because *they* are real. The acts have consequences. And people doing them are habituated to these things, and not merely observing them, but *acting them out*.

    Therefore it is perfectly reasonable to have a law that bans the simulation of harm to minors. People going around kidnapping, beating, abusing, etc. children in a virtual world even if they are “acting out these stories” will indeed be simulating harm in ways that fictional characters do not. They don’t leap off the page; they stay on the page. The person logging off, meanwhile, has been *desensitized to crime* and has also enacted it online. That matters. And it is different.

  81. I think we’re lumping together at least three different scenarios here; 1) minor player-character is harmed by the game world or NPC as a consequence of his/her actions; 2) minor player-character is harmed in PvP action by other minor player-characters; 3) minor player-character is harmed by adult player-character.

    In instance one, if a minor character leaps off a cliff, the character should be subject to the same laws of physics as any other, which in most settings would be a short, unpleasant trip with an abrupt end. If somebody roleplaying a Hogwart’s student skips up to a Lord Voldermort NPC (pardon my spelling, fans) and offers him a daisy, that student should be reduced to a greasy stain on the flagstones. Is there any serious question that this is allowable?

    Instance two, minor-on-minor “harm” might be unpalatable, but there have been titles based on little more than beating up one’s schoolmates and stealing their lunch money. I don’t get the appeal, but I guess it speaks to some people’s inner bully.

    I can’t think of any case where it would be artisically or otherwise necessary to give a player-controlled adult the ability to harm player-controlled minors, and it seems to me that would be appropriate to address in the TOS.

    But I reiterate, the broadness of the proposed language excludes instance one and two as well, which I think is an unjustifiable hindrance on game design. While the literary examples given are all books/plays, any one of them might serve as inspiration for an RPG. If I’m designing Shakespeare Online, must virtual Verona be off limits?

    I trust this clears up the obvious lack of understanding (not driven, I’m sure, by any type of malice) that seems to be insinuating that the people who question this clause are proponents of virtual child abuse.

  82. Tell you what. Go into Metaplace and make a world. Plan and stage Romeo and Juliet or Verona or As You Like It or whatever, using the avatars and props and script. Or enact Harry Potter if you can get the rights to it. Go ahead, crowd the theater. We’ll let you know then if we need to shout “fire” and we’ll see if the ban hammer falls.

  83. Whoohoo! Headline: Prokofy embraces gamer spirit. Pig flies. Shoot, now I have to agree with her.

  84. Hey, I’m a fan of vague rules and selective enforcement. Keeps the trolls guessing.

    As much as I enjoy using virtual worlds as performance spaces, we’re talking gaming here. And if I’m designing a game, it would be nice to know ahead of time if the person roleplaying The Joker is allowed to punch the person roleplaying Robin the Boy Wonder, and if not, how do I design around that without editing the Teen Titans entirely out of the game? It’ll be interesting to see how the upcoming DC Universe game tackles the issue (if there’s any PvP component at all). I know City of Heroes has no policy against adult villians knocking the stuffing out of underage heroes.

  85. […] terminer, je vous donne un lien vers une charte rédigée par un développeur. Bien que je doute que des jeux l’utilisent, […]

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