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Welcome! I am teaching law at St. Petersburg State University and engaged in legal practice with the international law firm Dentons. Major part of my research is connected to virtual worlds and massive multiplayer online games (a broad field which includes Internet law, video game law, virtual law and game studies). My legal practice is focused on providing support to computer game companies. This interest derives from my passion for computer games which I consider as one of the most important cultural artifacts ever created. Please note that this blog conveys my private opinion which is not necessarily shared by any organisations I am associated with. For more formal and detailed introduction please visit my website arkhipov.info which serves more as a 'business card'.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

4 Reasons Why Virtual Law Stands Still

Enthusiasm for virtual law is one thing, reality is another. Virtual law is in standstill.First evidence of virtual law emerged in 1980th. First articles on virtual law were written about ten years ago. Yet the law is scarce and fragmentary.  And if you try to check virtual law blogs, what you mostly will see is a graveyard. 

So, why virtual law stagnates? Four main reasons:

1. Consumers are dependent

Law develops by conflict. If a consumer enters a conflict with a game provider he/she will get banned. This means that access to virtual world is lost. No one wants this, so no one takes the risk. 

2. People are not ready  

Consequently. The average MMORPG gamer is a good person, better than most of those who do not play. And yet he/she lacks either motivation, or money, or real-life social skills etc. The most viable way for virtual law development is through consumers, but consumers are passive. Extensive forum posts or "lawyer threats" do not count.
3. Law is not ready

The sweetest point for a lawyer. Let us imagine for a second that virtual property is recognized. Or a right of a person to access a virtual world as an object of culture/art. For instance, at level of an international convention. Something wrong happens. Who would sue who? Until certain level of legal integration is reached, virtual law is not viable due to purely legal technical problems of jurisdiction and conflict of rules.

4. Government is not interested

If government is interested in you, you develop well. However, virtual worlds are not interesting for government. They do not affect power, resources, money or public security (whatever the propagators of the adverse may propagate). Yet? 
My expectations are that we are at the bifurcation. If virtual worlds will survive the most recent trends in online entertainment, they most probably will grow and gain official recognition worldwide. But it may happen that virtual worlds as we know them see their last days as a popular phenomenon, and soon they may return to the sub-culture status.

Would you happen to agree with this argument?         



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