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4-12-2011 @ 10:14AM
I don't see many of these ideals reflected in Blizzard's EULA, and I'm interested to see where you go with your next articles. The legal reality may be that Blizzard owns our toons, and that our "renter" status limits our rights to recourse if Blizzard makes changes which with we disagree, but the economic reality limits their free reign. Sure, Blizzard may have the legal right to erase any character I have, the gear that character has acquired, or take another action which "undoes" some accomplishment or acquisition, but if they started doing that arbitrarily, the players would be gone. Poof. Imagine logging in and finding your T11 heroic geared character sitting in SW as a naked level one toon. Sure, Blizzard COULD do that. But they wouldn't do it for long because people simply wouldn't put up with it. Koster's application of a social contract theory breaks down when you consider the reality that we have no true legal recourse against those that govern us. If the player base decides to "revolt", Blizzard simply ignores the dissidents by getting rid of them (forum bans, anyone?). The only solution to Blizzard taking an action that angers you is to cancel your subscription. Koster seems to imply that we, as a community, could "rise up" against our oppressors to effect change. That does not reflect the state of things. If all 12 million account holders said "we want free mounts at level 20, we have a right to efficient travel in the world we occupy", Blizzard could safely ignore us. What can we do? It's not as though we can march on their HQ and demand change. The primary check to the power of governance is the free exchange of information. That's why in America (I'll speak to this because I'm not sure about other nations), we have public courts. The judicial process is largely transparent. Not so in our virtual world. Even discussing an action taken against you is considered a violation of the TOS. How many threads on the official forums are locked/deleted because someone complains about an action taken against their account? To have rights, we have to know when our rights are being infringed upon, and when the rights of others are being infringed upon. Koster's notions of justice for all only work when the community can examine the actions of the governing authority and effectively petition for a policy alteration when we think that authority is taken too far. Without the ability to review the implementation of policy, the players will never have the ability to meaningfully contest unfair practices.
4-12-2011 @ 10:23AM
I think you've hit the nail on the head as to why I think player/avatar rights are a fascinating subject. It has something to do with enforcement and accountability, but more about a user base who comes up with its own rules in an already rule-driven environment and then begins to expect those rules. The next article is going to talk a good deal about the dungeon finder, for instance, and many of the player-made expectations of the game world that Blizzard has taken to heart. Loot rules are particularly interesting as well.
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