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Posts with tag government

The Lawbringer: Mailbag 5.0

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, 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?

Oh my, look at the time. Mailbag-o'clock already? That means we have questions to answer! If you'd like to send me a question for The Lawbringer, point a message from your email client of choice to with something having to do with Lawbringer in the title and ask away. This week, we've got some fun questions to go through.

Our first email comes from Lee, who wants to know if the Diablo 3 currency trading on the real-money Auction House could ever be big enough for a foreign currency exchange-type of marketplace for Diablo gold.

Lee asked:

You've talked at length about gold farming and the repercussion of gold farming in mmos. Much of it is related to currency trading. You've pointed out that Diablo's new model of selling cash on the auction house will eliminate gold farming and selling as we know it by creating gold to blizzard dollar currency exchange. Do you think we'll see the development of Forex style black box trading, using a Trading API add-on most likely?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Punishment for NetEase coming this month in China

JLM Pacific Epoch reported last week that an agreement has been reached regarding NetEase and that punishment will be announced this month. The two government agencies fighting over whether or not NetEase engaged in illegal activities have agreed that by charging fees before full approval, NetEase is guilty of acting against regulations. The disagreement began when the General Administration of Press and Publications halted their review of the game in November 2009, but were opposed by the Ministry of Culture in their decision.

This announcement raises so many questions for WoW in China. Will NetEase be allowed to resume operations of WoW? If not, will Blizzard be able to find yet another replacement? Or will China continue to block all attempts for playing World of Warcraft, continuing their efforts to not be influenced by western culture?

Many Chinese players are still hanging out in Azeroth via Taiwanese servers, of course. This includes the famous Chinese guild Stars, which was also's August Guild of the Month winner. If commercial operations of WoW return to China, Wrath of the Lich King has yet to be released there. So many players who have defected to Taiwanese servers are not likely to return until after the Chinese servers catch up with the rest of the world. We'll keep you up to date on the situation as it unfolds.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

Rent seeking (or lack thereof) in WoW

Elnia continues posting some interesting (and complicated) insight into the World of Warcraft over at the Pink Pigtail Inn. This time, it's about what she calls "rent seeking," which isn't about trying to find the money to pay for your apartment so much as it's about individuals petitioning authorities (the government, or in this case Blizzard) for their own income. The post dabbles with some complicated market theory, but in the end, the conclusion is this: while players have definitely petitioned Blizzard for changes to their own class, they have generally stayed away from asking for more money, or changes to the rules that would grant it to them. In general, players are fine with Blizzard staying hands-off of the various in-game economies running in Azeroth.

As the commenters over there say, there's a good reason for that, and it's because most of the economic play in WoW is completely optional. Aside from repair costs (which can be high for raiders, but for everyone else are fairly inconsequential), you don't really need money at all; given enough time, you can collect whatever you need from somewhere in the world, either by simply collecting ore or herbs, or by running instances and doing quests. But that doesn't mean that the "rent seeking" comparison isn't valid.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, Making money

Wrath expected in China in mid-November

Because of all the chaos (from switched providers to government approval) on China's version of World of Warcraft, they haven't actually had a chance to release the Wrath expansion over there yet. They were planning to bring it out ASAP, but that obviously never worked out. But we hear now, finally, that the wait is almost over. They are still going through content checks, and Netease (WoW's new provider over there) says it has some more work to do, but at this point they're aiming for a mid-November release.

This doesn't mean much for us in the rest of the world -- and before you commenters mention goldsellers, know that most "Chinese goldfarmers" actually play on NA/EU servers anyway, and have been doing so even with the outage overseas. It does, however, mean that China's guilds and playerbase at large will finally have access to all of the content we've enjoyed for almost a year (the expansion was released in North America and Europe last November 13th -- remember that?), including death knights, the new Naxxramas, and all of the other Northrend content. The release should be a nice bonus for Netease as well -- they've been working hard to try and get the game up to date, and releasing the current expansion should help bring in a nice group of new customers.

Filed under: Patches, Blizzard, Wrath of the Lich King

FCC Comissioner: World of Warcraft causes college dropouts

Oh boy. Deborah Tate is an FCC Commissioner (and will be for another three years at least -- she was appointed for another five year term in 2007), and claimed in a speech about telecom policy and regulation last week that "one of the top reasons for college drop-outs in the U.S. is online gaming addiction -- such as World of Warcraft -- which is played by 11 million individuals worldwide."

Never mind that World of Warcraft, is a game, not an addiction, and never mind that most of those 11 million people play it and are completely healthy socially and financially, and never mind even that any evidence you'd find that World of Warcraft causes dropouts is anecdotal at best. Can you really blame a game for someone making the choice to leave college? We, as you might have guessed, think not.

And there's more: Tate's Wikipedia page says that not only has she spoken out strongly in favor of DRM, and not only has she taken talking points directly from Clear Channel in trying to work on the Sirus/XM merger (a government official speaking the words of a corporation, that's just what we need), but she has also blamed television for childhood obesity. Nice one. One more reason why we are thrilled to see that we may finally get some folks in the FCC who actually know what they're talking about when it comes to online gaming.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, News items

World of Warcraft on twenty seven 67" monitors

Imagine getting ganked in Stranglethorn on that baby. Our friends at BigDownload (home of all things PC gaming) have discovered a ginormous computer screen, supposedly installed at a government office, used to play -- what else? -- the best PC game around, our own World of Warcraft. The monstrosity consists of twenty seven different 67" monitors all tied up into one PC. Unfortunately, as you can see (click the pic above for the whole thing), it's a little warped, considering that the display has a resolution of 12600 x 3150 -- not exactly a standard even for the very compatible Blizzard.

But it is pretty awesome to see -- we only "wish" they'd taken some gameplay footage or other pictures so we could see this thing in action. And just what kind of rig is powering all of that? It'd be hilarious if the government splurged on the monitors but skimped on the RAM, leaving a gigantic display skipping along at a low frame rate.

Update: Our crack WoW Insider Photoshop judges (one of whom has "government" experience) are calling this 'shopped. Not that you'll ever have a monitor like this, so it probably makes no difference to you, but take the pic with the usual grain of salt.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Hardware

PBS covers the government's intrusion into online worlds

This clip, from PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, is notable for a number of reasons. First of all, I'm fairly sure this is the most balanced, objective look at MMORPGs I've ever seen in mass media -- they talk about both Second Life and World of Warcraft, but there isn't a single mention of addiction or cluelessness or any of the other stuff mass media throws at us.

And it's also a good look at what was behind all the hubbub about the government searching for terrorists in WoW -- in truth, the fact that the government is interested in online communities isn't that huge a deal (who isn't interested in MMOs?), but the fact that they're doing it with the justification of terrorism is a much more disturbing discovery. And this piece then goes into the larger problems with this lately -- that the government is dipping into all kinds of supposedly private communications outlets with this lame justification of searching for terrorists.

Nice piece, but especially so because of that very even look at our favorite past time. If only all reporters were so objective.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, News items, Account Security

Thrall gets a new big brother: US government wants to search for terrorists on WoW

The Rogue in your next instance or battleground may just be a spy- not from the opposite faction, from the United States Government. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence submitted a report to Congress [Via Wired] on their plans to use data mining in virtual communities to root out spies. The project will involve sifting through vast amounts of data, looking for suspicious behavior and actions. The Intelligence Community wants to target MMOs because they typically fall outside the purview of study. The spying project would only use publicly available data. The findings of the endeavor would not be classified.

Data mining is the process of going through large amounts of information for specific relevant information. This is a process that has long been used in the business industry for product and market research. The government plans to use these same techniques to root out terrorist messages in online content.

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Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items, Forums

Officers' Quarters: How do we govern? Part 2

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes
Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

If you're just tuning in, last week I discussed how running a guild is much like running a country -- or an empire. In the previous column, I covered the dictatorship, the constitutional monarchy, and the democratic republic. This week, we'll talk about three others that aren't quite so conventional.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

Officers' Quarters: How do we govern? Part 1

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes
Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

All of you guild leaders out there, ask yourself this question: Is your management style most like
__Genghis Khan?
__Thomas Jefferson?
__Queen Elizabeth?
__Kim Jong-il?
__A council of elders?
__An inanimate carbon rod?

I started thinking about the many ways a guild can be managed after receiving the following e-mail. My apologies to Rodrigo in advance -- it was a very insightful, but very long e-mail, and I'm only including about half of it below.

Hey Scott,

First I want to congratulate you for adding such an interesting topic to the biggest WoW blog there is. Hope you keep up the good work!

I'm a civil engineer from the far country of Chile. Before BC came out I was the GM of the biggest Hispanic-talking guild in all the US servers, we had over 250 active accounts and 400 characters. Our only recruitment requisite was being able to talk Spanish . . .

[One of] the true keys to manage a guild this large and diverse was democracy. Officers vote for certain decisions. Guild members vote for certain officers.

I think this point would be a great topic for a blog discussion. For some reason today guilds are ran by their founders . . . The GM is usually the guy that started it all and officers are then elected using different arguments but what is certain is that they are never removed (unless he kinda quits the game). How do you tell your own officers that he isn't wanted by the majority of the guild or that he isn't cutting it? We had leadership elections every 5 months and it worked great . . . All the level 60s had the option to vote via a Web form for officers and officers would then elect the GM. This method automatically removes most of the causes that could eventually destroy the guild . . . like dictators, friendship influences, greedy people in charge, etc

As an engineer I've found that being a GM combines the two biggest challenges of any organizational leadership: Emotional Intelligence and Strategic Management.

Rodrigo Jimenez
Riddance @ Smolderthorn-US

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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