by Mike Masnick

Virtual Worlds Hand Off Governance To Virtual Mobs

from the mob-rule! dept

For years, we've discussed the eventual problems that various online worlds would face when problems flare up. At issue is that most of the companies who put together these games didn't take into account that they suddenly became the dictatorial government within the game. That raises some serious jurisdictional questions -- especially as some people start taking their complaints out of the virtual world and into the real world courts. People may complain if an in-game good that has real value outside of the game gets stolen, but how do you deal with it if stealing is supposed to be a part of the game? Since many of these games are supposed to be open to whatever you can do, it's hard to base a lawsuit on something that then is done in the game. Of course, rather than deal with this, it appears some games are simply punting the issue back to users, who have taken it upon themselves to form online communities to self-police in-game troublemakers. It must be a fascinating lab for any sociologist willing to study how these groups are forming and acting. Still, as in real life, there's always the risk that the self-forming self-policing community then gets a bit drunk with power, and becomes an online mafia.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Shaula Evans, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 10:30am

    online sociologists

    Nancy White is one of my favourite sources for a reputable academic take on behaviour in online communities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 10:34am

    Creating police

    A solution I've seen on a couple of the larger text-based MUDs I've played is to have a player class which performs the role of police and is given skills/spells aimed at aiding them in hunting down and neutralizing offending players. Players had to get special approval to play this class, and the penalties for members of the class caught abusing their position were especially severe.

    Not a terribly popular class, though, since the emphasis on law enforcement meant it was less powerful in terms of killing monsters for points.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Ben, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 10:44am

    Real world Value

    It may be argued that items in the MMO games have real world value since there are people willing to pay for them, but i have noticed that many companies are against selling items in the real world for real money since it decreases the in game economy. The makers of Final Fantasy XI for example said that they ban any players they catch selling vitual good for real money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Jason, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 12:06pm

    Sounds like the wild west

    This kinda sounds like the wild west, when law wasn't available out on the range and little cow towns. Thus, the residents of these areas took the law, or what they precieved that law should be, into their own hands. Be it posses, hangings, brandings, makeshift jails, or whatever.

    Next thing you know, there will be the virtual equivilant of the shootout at the OK Corral.

    Although not a MMO player as such, I find these developments very interesting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 3:15pm

    If you voluntarily mix the worlds by bringing IRL money into the mix, then let the consequences be on your own damn head. You were implored not to but you did anyway. Just because somebody's willing to sell you in-game merchandise doesnt mean it is a good idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2006 @ 3:20pm


    And anyway, whats the difference between investing time and money? You invest resources in the game, and it can get ganked. It NEEDS to be able to be ganked, otherwise the immersiveness of the world is impaired. Looks like we have people out there that want the game to be pure blissful escapism and people that want it to be harsh, cruel, faux-reality. Quit playing the harsh games if you dont like it. Personally, I enjoy the thought of consequenceless harshness. It sublimates the need for harshness which would typically be carried out in a more consequential way. For example, I had a stressful day at work so I am going to be home in an hour running through doom and blasting former human sergeants.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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