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The Lawbringer: Mail Bag 9

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.

Welcome to another mail bag edition of The Lawbringer, ready to answer your questions, inqueries, and crazy considerations. A lot of you have been emailing me about SOPA and PIPA, the two bills currently being legislated on in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. These bills make it extremely easy for parties who feel that they are the victims of copyright infringement to take websites offline without much due process due to the overreaching aspects of the broadness of the respective legislations' wording. We as a subculture of the internet do not like these pieces of legislation.

I chose not to talk about SOPA or PIPA because, honestly, I think everyone is saying what I would say better than I could say it. So many people much smarter than I have already said wonderful things about these bills that you should probably read those instead. If you're looking for more information on SOPA, PIPA, and their general mechanics and potential fallout, hit up Wikipedia for a full FAQ about the bill and great links. For a different perspective, my good friend Chris put up a great discussion of SOPA from a non-legal standpoint as a developer and programmer.

My Lawbringer mail bag always has awesome questions, and I'm thankful to all of you who send them in. I try to get to as many of them as I can, and if you haven't gotten a response, try sending your question in again. It might have just gotten lost or whatever. Email mat@wowinsider.com with any of your Lawbringer questions.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Cross-realm Dungeon Finder premium service coming soon

Blizzard has just announced a premium cross-realm Dungeon Finder feature, allowing players from the same faction to invite Real ID friends from different servers into 5-man regular and heroic dungeons. The popularity of the Dungeon Finder is well-known at this point, and expounding on the feature has been in the cards according to Blizzard for some time now.

This new feature will be part of a premium package of WoW features requiring an extra fee to use. Blizzard says that only the person doing the invites and creating the cross-server party will need to have access to the premium feature for the system to work. Currently, there is no release date, and the service is being described as a complex one to develop. Blizzard is most likely getting out in front of the news sites and datamining sites now, since pieces of this new system will begin to hit the PTR soon and Blizzard doesn't want too much speculation.

I personally think that this system is really cool for players who have an already-established friends base on other servers but don't want to leave their current home or don't have the money to do so and pay for a premium server transfer. For instance, Sacco and I can finally run some dungeons together. You hear that, Sacco? It's dungeon time.

Premium services always receive some type of backlash in the WoW community, and this one will be no different, so for caution's sake, let's wait until pricing information is officially announced before we explode with indignation. This is, however, a feature that many players have been asking for and will be very popular.

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Filed under: Cataclysm

Man arrested for assaulting girl he met in World of Warcraft

Here's an unfortunate World of Warcraft mention in the news: a man has been arrested and charged with all sorts of terrible things for having a relationship with a 14-year-old girl that he originally met in Azeroth. Daniel Joseph Czelusniak is 23 and from North Royalton, Ohio, and is being held by Pennsylvania State Police after having a relationship with the girl last year, meeting at a hotel and her house. He originally met her four years ago (when she was 10 but apparently claimed she was 14) while they were both playing World of Warcraft.

Of course, this is hardly the game's fault: parents of young children need to closely supervise their activity online while they're doing anything, be it browsing the Internet or fighting dragons in Northrend. WoW itself is rated T by the ESRB, which means no children under the age of 13 should really be playing it without parental supervision anyway, and the added online component of the game should be even more of a red flag for anyone overseeing younger children. This is a great game (and you couldn't find a nicer community of people who play it), but there are the same dangers in this environment as anywhere else your child might go online.

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

All the World's a Stage: If looks could kill

All the World's a Stage is a column for inquisitive minds, playing with roles every Sunday evening.

The media usually portrays WoW as a "boy's game." That's not to say girls don't play too, of course -- just that the game is basically about qualities such as aggressiveness and violence, and our culture expects males to be interested in that sort of thing.

Whether such a designation is true or not, the "masculine equals violent" stereotype is very pervasive, and it is natural for many male players to begin the game with a powerful and intimidating character in mind. The player may imagine that his avatar is warm and kind-hearted inside, but outwardly, his character looks as though he could rip out your throat with a flick of his pinky finger.

But there are many men out there who don't like such exaggerated manliness in their characters, just as there are many women who don't want their character to look like a dainty barbie doll. Being a person isn't just about just one gender attribute, after all. Indeed, female characters in WoW can achieve a full range of human attributes in their appearance; they can look friendly and intelligent, yet lightning quick and deadly at the same time. However, the appearance of male characters is often so filled to the brim with "strength and honor" that there's not much room left for any other human quality.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

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