Virtual World Politics News

Where to start?
How about the “u gotta be kidding me!” news:
The US Congress has announced that it will be issuing a potential taxation of virtual goods report in August. I’m a bit perplexed about this. Firstly – how are they going to define what is virtual? And second of all, I don’t think we’re anywhere near ready to discuss this issue ‘officially’. I’m a bit worried that they’re going to ruin the creative gaming freedom that these virtual worlds offer by bringing up such invasive things as taxes. And when there’s just a handful of gamers this could apply to – is it really worth it? I’m all for that academics, gamers and designers discuss it, because it is important that we think about these things and have ready proposals and not in the least definitions before such matters do become official – but not the US Congress! Maybe I’m just skeptical because I’m European. I’m just not as thrilled as everyone else seems to be. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the ‘real’ value of virtual goods – I really do! And I abhore all the journalists writing headlines about virtual goods being fake – yet worth real money. I just think that the ‘realness’ of such things has to come about another way than through a governmental force like the US Congress. But I’m getting ahead of myself here, they do say ‘potential’.
Ludium II is finished for this year and as usual they’ve done a bang up job! Just goes to show how much creative results can come out of gameplay (Ludium is a conference that’s built up as a game by guru Castronova). They came up with “A Declaration of Virtual World Policy”which I think is pretty great.

  1. A self-governance group of virtual world stakeholders should be formed
  2. A players’ bill of rights should be drafted and should include the right of free speech and the rights to assemble and organize.
  3. A universal age verification system should be created to support the individual rights of all users
  4. Virtual world designers should have freedom of expression
  5. Virtual worlds should include plain-language End-User License Agreements (EULA) to enable all individuals to understand their rights
  6. There are different types of virtual worlds with different policy implications
  7. Access is critical to virtual worlds, so net neutrality must be maintained
  8. Game developers shall not be liable for the actions taken by players
  9. Fair use may apply in virtual worlds that enable amateur creation of original works
  10. The government should provide a comprehensive package of funding for educational games research, development, and literacy


What else?! EVE!!!!! I’m so impressed with what they’ve been doing lately.

CCP (EVE developer)is introducing an ability for EVE players to elect “a player-staffed oversight committee that will be regularly flown to Iceland to “audit CCP’s operations and report back to their player-constituents”. To insure the elections are free and fair, “CCP says it will call in election monitors from universities in Europe and the United States”” (stolen from the brilliant Mark Wallace’s blog 3pointD, because I’m such a lazy cut’n’paste blogger). New York Times article here. It’s a thing of beauty! I’m not saying that all virtual gaming worlds should do the same, but for EVE which has such business competitive gameplay it’s just perfect! And if that wasn’t enough, they’ve now appointed an in-world lead economist!

So much more delightful than the US Congress talking about virtual world taxes! ;)

There’s so much more going on – but this blogpost is getting kinda large – so I’ll be back with more soon!

PS – couldn’t think of an appropriate picture for this post so I slapped on a picture by my brilliantly talented friend Eva.

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