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Posts with tag avatar-rights

The Lawbringer: Avatar rights as expectations

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Last week, I introduced the concept that the denizens of a virtual world may have gained, over time, the right to rights within that virtual world. Raph Koster, the lead developer of Ultima Online, explored the idea over 10 years ago when the MMO genre was in its developmental infancy. These rights synced up with a world where there was a distinction between free-to-play MUDs and for-pay subscription worlds in the U.S. and European markets. Today, the MMO has transformed into a new beast from the close-knit communities of MUDs and the relatively forgiving user base of EverQuest and Ultima Online.

The people who made WoW are the contemporaries of Raph Koster and children of the MMO genre that EverQuest cemented as important. How then, in over 10 years, has Koster's declaration of the rights of avatars held up to the incredible growth of the industry and Blizzard's own impressive growth? The short answer: The code of conduct you follow in World of Warcraft is pretty lenient, all things considered. The long answer: Well, there's always a long answer.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: A prelude to avatar rights

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

The concept of avatar rights is a strange and new concept, only really going back as far as people have demanded rights for their virtual counterparts. In the early days of the MMO genre, players would populate MUDs (multi-user dungeons) or similarly designed constructs online and do pretty much the same things we do today -- hack, slash, chat, and adventure with other users. From MUDs, we got graphical MMOs, and from graphical MMOs, we got the second and third generations of the massively multiplayers we know today. World of Warcraft comes from a rich history of all of the games that came before it, as did the concept of the virtual self. The one thing all of these games have had in common over the years is the avatar.

This week's Lawbringer is the first in a multi-part series discussing avatar rights -- where the concept came from, where it's going, and who has the power to set the rules. We're going to talk about the venerable Raph Koster and his avatar rights manifesto, who your avatar is and what is so damn special about him, and some really interesting concepts dealing with what people feel they are owed. Strap in -- this may get crazy.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

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