Game talkAvatar rights come back

 Posted by (Visited 11706 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , ,
Apr 102011

The Lawbringer: A prelude to avatar rights is an article kicking off what appears to be a series looking at avatar rights in the context of World of Warcraft. It has been a while since the original article on avatar rights has been commented on much on the web, though it still regularly gets discussed in books on Internet law. Very few worlds ever adopted any variant of this as a terms of service, and Metaplace doing so back when we ran a customer-facing service had no real impact other than garnering some publicity.

Oddly enough, the article has been much on my mind lately, mostly because of how it closes, with a prediction that avatar service providers will both hold immense quantities of personal information but also dominate the market, making it hard to use an alternate provider:

Someday there won’t be any admins. Someday it’s gonna be your bank records and your grocery shopping and your credit report and yes, your virtual homepage with data that exists nowhere else…  it may be a little harder to write to Customer Service. Your avatar profile might be your credit record and your resume and your academic transcript, as well as your XP earned.

On the day that happens, I bet we’ll all wish we had a few more rights in the face of a very large, distributed server, anarchic, virtual world where it might be very very hard to move to a different service provider…

…It’s a hypothetical exercise.

For now.

“Declaring the Rights of Players”, 2000

Not very long ago my daughter was banned from Facebook. She has no idea why; neither do I. I would keep an eye on her page, and there was nothing untoward on it that I saw. She hadn’t been using it actively, and it took her several days to notice it was gone. And she’s just not interested in it enough to bother setting up a new one.

Continue reading »

Game talkChinese jail for virtual currency extortion

 Posted by (Visited 6321 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Jun 092009

So this gang of bullies strongarms a guy in an Internet cafe in China, and extorts a bunch of virtual goods and a pile of QQ coins from him. He gets caught, and the court rules that since the virtual goods were purchased, this was a valid case of extortion. Thee of the gang got fines, and the ringleader — three years in jail!

According to the Xinhua news agency, the man, along with three others, assaulted another man in the cafe, forcing him to give up various virtual goods and 100,000 yuan ($14,700) worth of the virtual currency known as QQ coins. The coins are the currency utilized by the major Chinese web portal, Tencent. It is used for the purchase of online goods and premium services for supported titles.

— Virtual Currency Extortion Leads to Three Years of Prison in China.

It isn’t too surprising that this sort of thing is getting taken seriously there; industry experts in China assess the virtual goods market there as being 25 times the size of the US market. (You can download an interesting report on this here, or just check out this slide show).

Game talkState of Play VI

 Posted by (Visited 4853 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Jun 052009

State of Play VI is coming up June 19th and 20th, and I will be keynoting there and doing lots of Metaplace demoing.

I’m looking forward to this one — I haven’t made it to a State of Play conference since the first one, and it was incredibly stimulating. A great group of folks is gathering there this year, and the topics are nice and meaty: kids’ worlds, whether virtual worlds have reached a plateau, recent policy developments, and even government worries about terrorism. There’s also a Graduate Student Symposium where students will present their research.

Here’s the press release:

Continue reading »

Game patent update

 Posted by (Visited 4758 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Jun 022009

Virtual Worlds News has a report that tomorrow may see some developments in the patent case; apparently Article One Partners, the folks who were crowdsourcing finding prior art, will be posting something…

…announcing the outcome of a Patent Validity Study it conducted on the complaint.

“With verification of outside counsel, Article One Partners has identified prior art that can show the patent to be invalid,” the organization said in a statement. The group said it would post the prior art on its web site, although at press time the art had yet to be posted.

Game talkEntropia becomes a bank

 Posted by (Visited 12315 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Mar 212009

Ars Technica reports that Project Entropia and MindArk are in the process of getting an actual banking license.

…a Swedish video game developer has been granted preliminary approval for a real banking license by the Swedish Finance Supervisory…

…the game itself has proven to be incredibly successful, having generated over $420 million last year.

Now, though, MindArk’s going to be just like a bank in the real world: it will be backed by Sweden’s $60,000 deposit insurance, offer interest-bearing accounts for its clients, feature direct deposit options, let players pay bills online, and apparently will offer loans to customers.

And another long-standing prediction among virtual world watchers begins to come true: that virtual worlds would eventually become fiduciary institutions.

Game threatens

 Posted by (Visited 5896 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
Mar 112009

The headlines kind of say it all:

This is in tandem with the recent news that was recently awarded a third patent which is a continuation of the earlier two.

The specific things that are being cited in the articles about it reference solutions for scalability.

Game talkEU says games good for kids

 Posted by (Visited 7007 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
Feb 122009

A report from the European parliament concluded yesterday that computer games are good for children and teach them essential life skills.

via Video games are good for children – EU report | Technology | The Guardian.

Saw it via a Tweet from Steven Johnson this morning. I asked him, “Do you think our books were read as part of the debate?” Or those of Jim Gee, Marc Prensky, etc… The article does say experts in games were brought in from numerous countries, so maybe.

There is discussion of the issue of stimulating violence, but the conclusion was that legislation was not warranted.

More interesting in terms of online, which is poorly regulated right now, was the notion of a mandatory way for users to report online games to PEGI:

The growing market for online games needed to be better controlled, the MEPs said, and online games should include a red button on the screen which children or parents could click to disable the game.

Manders said the button could also be linked to the administrators of the Pan-European Game Information age rating system, so that when a game player presses it, PEGI is informed and can investigate potentially disturbing games that are available through the internet.

Game talkEurope’s security recommendations for VWs

 Posted by (Visited 5118 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Jan 232009

Spotted on Metaverse Law that

The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) released an interesting position paper on some of the concerns associated with virtual worlds.

A summary of the position paper’s recommendations:

  • Governments and policy making bodies:
  1. An industrywide forum for sharing of info on security vulnerabilities
  2. Fund work on clarifying legal issues around IP and personal info in VWs
  3. Encourage independent dispute resolution for player-to-player issues
  4. New financial procedures to prevent item theft using chargebacks
  5. Investigate the issues around conflicts between legislation & common carrier status for VWs
  • MMO/VW operators:
  1. Deal with item duping, end-to-end secuity, and DOS attacks
  2. Clear privacy policies
  3. Charge a token returnable fee for for all ODR complaints (to prevent false complaints)
  4. Improve user authentication
  5. A standard set of governing documents and terms, built with user input
  6. Provide bootable CD images for critical operations such as online banking
  • Awareness and research
  1. Run campaigns on account theft detection, how to handle bad behavior, in-world property risks, etc
  2. Research future trends with security concenrs, such as content filtering, security and reliability of open world formats, etc

Game talkThe taxman cometh, part umpteen

 Posted by (Visited 5096 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Jan 122009

By one estimate, about $1 billion in real dollars changed hands in computer-based environments called ‘virtual worlds’ in 2005. … IRS employees have been unable to respond to taxpayer inquiries about how to report transactions associated with them. Economic activities in virtual worlds may present an emerging area of tax noncompliance, in part because the IRS has not provided guidance about whether and how taxpayers should report such activities. To improve voluntary tax compliance, the National Taxpayer Advocate recommends that the IRS issue guidance addressing how taxpayers should report economic activities in virtual worlds.

— from the report summary (PDF) of this year’s recommendations from the national taxpayer advocate.

Via Kotaku, Slashdot, WaPo…

The whole thing is large, if you want to read about everything else beyond virtual worlds.