Friday, December 20, 2013

My First League Of Legends Ribbon

Not such a big deal probably, but still important for me:

More on the League of Legends honor system here.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Aardwolf MUD Anniversary

An important anniversary which took place on December 7th was the milestone reached by the Aardwolf MUD - on December 7th, 2013 it has been open to the public for the whole 17 years!

The abbreviation 'MUD' stands for 'Multi-User Dungeon' (or 'Dimension'). The first one to use this wording was Dr. Richard Bartle who actually is conventionally and deservedly known as the developer of the first ever MMORPG known as 'MUD1' (1983) which is still operating technically.  

Today it may sound like a surprise, but not always were online multiplayer role-playing games graphical. The first ones and many modern ones (!) are text-based, and this is the case of Aardwolf, which is still popular and successful.

A random Aardwolf screenshot with zMUD 7.21 client used. Some strings about the score of Riathen, my character, and what he sees around him.

Must-Read: 'Homo Ludens' By Johan Huizinga

This post partially reflects a random thought to open a new thread of 'Must-Read' in addition to 'Don't Miss'. 

It happened that I read my birthday lecture on the topic of computer games. I decided to start with the most important book on games ever written which is conventionally 'Homo Ludens' (literally, 'Man the Player') by Dutch historian and cultural theorist Johan Huizinga.

There is probably no single most important book on general theory of games except of this one, because Dr. Huizinga was the first to write a comprehensive treatise on the topic. Furthermore, he was the first representative of the 'official' academic establishment to recognize the natural urge to play games and to put it above all else.

I could not establish the copyright holder, but hope that he/she does not mind.
If not, please contact me.
The main idea of Dr. Huizinga was that that play is the most important, albeit not sufficient, condition of the culture itself.

December 7th, Birthdays And MUDs

I may seem a little bit late (due to work), but better late than never. I had a 30th anniversary on December 7th, but I was not the only one. The others were Aardwolf MUD and Johan Juizinga. Before I explain this in my further posts, let me share a photo from the beginning of the day.

Photo is made by one of my students. You know who you are,
and you have all your rights reserved.
This photo is made at the end of my lecture on Internet law. An evil mastermind from University administration fiddled with schedule and made me read a lecture on my birthday. Fortunately, it was my new favorite course and I used the opportunity to speak about computer games and virtual law. The translation of the presentation title into English would be 'Legal Issues of Online Games and Virtual Worlds'

My soul was stirred with the way my students congratulated me: they presented me a hand made birthday cake with "3" and "0" candles which you can see at the photo. 


Fear Not This Night

I do not give up the idea that the most epic song of all times is the main theme of Skyrim (especially when performed by Lindsey Stirling and Peter Hollens), and yet I think that I have finally found something not less epic. 

If you enjoy epic and/or videogame music, you will not think that those five minutes on 'Fear Not This Night' of Guild Wars 2 are wasted. And it is not a surprise that the composer is Jeremy Soule again.

Work Work

Both November and December turned out as extremely busy months for me. It was quite hard to find time motivation to write here after all the work I had to face. Oh, and I will have to face more work until the end of the month. So, no time to rest yet.

But in the meantime, I can share one simple thought that is quite often overlooked: the closer what you do at work is to your personal interests, the more productive and successful you become. This is what Aleister Crowley actually meant when formulating 'Do what thou wilt' imperative.

Starting from the moment I decided a little bit more than a year ago to accept the fact that I enjoy computer games, that I cannot reject them in favor of popular opionion and that I have an urge to infuse them into my professional life, I became happier and more efficient. Really.

Yet this still requires some amount of work. But when most of the work is done I expect to catch up with my intial blogging pace. 

By the way, did you play Warctaft 3? A memetic peons' reaction to a mouse click looks quite suitable for the occasion. ^^

Picture borrowed from liza shulyayeva and, of course, eventually Blizzard

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Does Internet Lead To A Paradigm Shift In Law?

Let us assume for a moment that law can be associated with the term 'science' (which is the case of many academics of various jurisdictions). In such a case, the common features of science could be attributed to law as well, including Thomas Kuhn paradigm as the word depicting the basic assumptions of scholars.

The basic assumptions of legal scholars, which eventually affect the practice and the legislation, at least via education of the forthcoming lawyers and legislators, comprise of theoretic models of various legal institutions. These institutions imply the way the things are regulated and/or resolved in practice.

Internet challenges many basic institutions of law, for instance, jurisdiction or persona (understood as a legal abstact from an actual individual or individuals). Speaking about jurisdiction, the law cannot resolve the problem without construction of many legal fictions, which are syphilis to get rid of according to Bentham.

May it be that this and associated facts mean that the Internet leads to a paradigm shift in law, which, in its turn, may affect the basic principles as well?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Bunch Of Old Games Appeared At Steam

If you have not checked Steam recently, and you like to play rather old games without copyright infringement, you should definitely check their store. 

The 11th Hour, The 7th Guest, Shadow Man, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, Anachronox, Daikatana, Uban Chaos, Knights and Merchants, Startopia, Pandemonium, Enclave, Deathtrap Dungeon, Silent Storm, Septerra Core, Gorky 17, Shadow Warrior, Omikron: The Nomad Soul, Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain are all for sale now. 

Most of these games belong to early 2000s, an age of evolving 3D and last massive non-indie genre experiments. A good chance to make an applied research in game design combined with a warm nostalgia.

Social media is a tricky place, so I decided to shade controversial words at a failed Daikatana ad. If this is the first time you see this, you may find a short story about it at 'Reception and controversy' section here.

Free And Legal Photos With morgueFile And Google+

I used to address for embedding free images into my blog posts or get photos for my presentations, but I have noticed several drawbacks. In particular, embedded photos do not work with automatic crossposting to Google+. Also I tend to find fewer good images there recently.

This time, after a casual search at that website, I stumbled upon morgueFile, a free photo archive with decent images and attractive legal terms. You are free to adapt the work, to use this work for commercial purposes and without attributing the original author. The limitations are that (obviously) you cannot claim ownership of the image in its original state and that you cannot use the image exactly as it is without an alteration.

The 'stand alone basis' limitation is easy to comply with if you use Google+ as it has a neat lightweight photo editor for all images uploaded to the profile.

Web 2.0 Deconstruction Of Institutional Monopoly On Production Of Knowledge

I am risking to get into one of those 'Top 10 Worst Blog Post Titles' lists, and yet I think that this is an appropriate one!

One of the major reasons why researchers in the field of humanities and social sciences do their work is the power to affect social reality. In many cases this influence is subtle, indirect and slow, but it is nevertheless real. 

For instance, Montesquieu, who is conventionally percieved as the developer of the separation of powers doctrine, affected most of the modern constitutions in such a way, and consequently this gave a rise to many social, political and legal features which we currently find common and obvious. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Information Law Symposium At Free University Of Berlin, 26-27 September 2013

This week (26-27 September 2013) I had an honor to be invited to speak at the Information Law Symposium at Free University of Berlin.

The event, hosted by the inviting institution in collaboration with Saint Petersburg State University, united several scholars from Russia and Germany interested in modern problems of the Internet law. Most of the colleagues represented public law (in particular, administrative law) branch.

Pervasive problem of the modern law which was a common thread of the symposium was personal data protection in the age of the Internet. Ironically, the personal data protection considerations prevent me from sharing the names of other participants as I do not yet have their confirmation for disclosure, and the event was not public by default.

However, I am entitled to speak freely for myself and the ideas which I presented (click 'READ MORE' below).

Don't Miss: Card Hunter - Lightweight, Fresh And Addictive

While most of the gaming audience is focused on GTA V, some of the people who enjoy tabletop games are all into Card Hunter, an innovative game delivered by Blue Manchu which conveys the atmosphere of classic board game experience.

This game, running straight from your browser, is a good mix of combat (operate miniatures), collectible card game (equip your heroes with armor, weapons and misc items each of which gives a set of cards) and roleplaying game (lorewise). 

Furthermore, it's neatly organized in such a way that you can play in small chunks with good outcome of fun. 

Many thanks to Tobold - I learned about the game from Tobold's blog

Friday, September 27, 2013

Let me introduce, a new resource launched by our law and technology research group. Basically, this website is a nexus of most publications which we make in other Internet media.

The focal topic is everything located directly at the intersection of law and technology, from general Internet law problems to vanguard fields such as virtual law. It is bilingual (Russian and English) in a part.

Perry's Theory Of Structured Procrastination

I have recently found an unusual way to motivate myself in my professional life and related areas. This is theory of structured procrastination by John Perry, emeritus professor of philosophy at Stanford.

Have you ever found yourself doing anything just to avoid doing anything else at the moment? As for me, I have. And until I found proper rationalization in a short essay by John Perry, I felt uncomfortable.

In fact there is no reason to feel that way (unless you are limited by a deadline which may kill you), if you, for a moment, replace your duties with something which is both productive and exciting, whichever it is! 

Read the original thoughts behind this here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The U.S. Case Law On Fair Use Of Trademarks In Video Games

I would like to draw your attention to a Pillsbury client alert which I recently scooped.
It was prepared by Sean F. Kane known for deep expertise in video game law, and it gives a decent overview on recent U.S. case law related to situations where the use of trademark protected material in video games without permission was confirmed as acceptable further to free speech right argumentation (First Amendment).
Illustrative citation from the introductory paragraph:
"We're telling a story and we have a point of view," EA's President of Lablels Frank Gibeau, said in an interview. "A book doesn't pay for saying the word 'Colt,' for example."
You may find this client alert here.    

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Guild Wars 2 Has New Content And Offers Free Trial 23-25 August, 2013

Guild Wars 2 has many distinctive features. One of them is that this MMORPG is much more suitable for a person with lack of free time than many others. Its innovative design allows to receive a lot of fun in short periods of time without planning much in advance. 

In anticipation of the forthcoming content...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fixing Thoughts: From Notebooks To Evernote

More than six years ago, when I did not do any legal practice and enjoyed my LL.M. classes just two times a week (the schedule was made in such a way, honestly), I invested a lot of time into reading books on the disciplines which were not in the curriculum, finding out literary devices while reading fiction for fun, writing down random ideas and some other similar things.

I kept several notebooks for each theme where I made structured handwritten notes fixing all of the above, like this one:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gamification Everywhere!

This is by no means a new observation, but I have just realized how far things have come while updating my LinkedIn profile. They have a 'profile strength' meter which rises in proportion to the amount of information you entered. 

This feature is so obvious and widespread now that it is hard to pay significant attention to it. Many other services, and not only social media ones, use similar mechanics or, to be more precise, game mechanics. Gamification (the term is considered to be coined in 2002 by Nick Pelling) was always in use, but in most cases it was implicit. Today we face explicit gamification, and there is a lot of things around to research.

For instance, although I have the impression that gamification is generally praised more than blamed, I would dare to say that it has its caveats. And here is what I mean. People definitely have a need for games. Computer games made a revolution which allowed to satisfy this need with specific and diverse tools. 

However, if this need is not satisfied in such a natural way, people tend to include elements of game in serious business, like relationship with significant other or at work, and this may lead to harm.

Or not?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Top 5 Online Papers To Boost Internet Law Research

Here is a list of five papers which I find most helpful in my current Internet law research. All of them are currently available online for free without subscription to academic databases.

On this occasion let me also say thank you to each author of the papers listed, without you my research would definitely lack something.

5. Tim O'Reilly. What Is Web 2.0. Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software. The only point which explains why a landmark paper by an Internet culture guru is placed here is that it does not directly address legal issues. However, a lawyer should have a general overview of current technology which gives rise to various legal issues. This paper serves this aim well. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

The UK Draft Consumer Rights Bill 2013...

...has specific chapter for digital content

The deifinition 2(8) sets forth that "Digital content" means data which are produced and supplied in digital form. It is clearly open for interpretation.

Substantial matters are dealt with in Chapter 3 which  applies to a contract under which a trader provides or agrees to provide digital content to a consumer, if the digital content is provided or to be provided: (a) for a price paid by the consumer, or (b) free with goods or services or other digital content for which the consumer pays a price.

The Draft Bill and associated documents are available here.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Real-To-Virtual Time Ratio

Modern MMORPG providers rely on audience which is able to invest real money in online games, especially if it is a kind of free-to-play (not necessarily 'pay-to-win') project. 

Conversely, people who play online games and are able to pay for virtual goods without substantial harm to their wallet (such as myself) are looking for those MMORPGs which can provide maximum gaming value for each penny invested.

FINCEN's Virtual Currency Guidance

The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network publishes its Guidance on Virtual Currency. I have got the link from PillsburyLaw.

Razer Naga...

...has improved my MMORPG performance as I notice after two months of using it. Although I would not say 'drastically': my usual keymapping involved 'alt', 'shift' and 'ctrl'-ing the buttons around WASD (which is '1' - 'c' from the upper left to the bottom right corner) before this, so the new mouse allowed me just to put less stress on the left hand. And I agree with Dr. Bartle who admits that the thumb buttons could do more than reflect either keyboard number line or numpad.

Hooray! My first authentic picture. Feel free to use it with a link to this blog.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Do Games Attract With Predictability?

Computer games can be viewed as mathematical models. In many cases - mathematical models of 'real' life, a kind of abstraction. And although random number generator is used now and then, a game is often a closed system where a player can get perfectly forseeable results. Well, at least much more foreseeable than in 'reality'. 

May it be that predictability is one of the main things sought for in computer games, though often unconsiously?

Boss rewards you get in MMORPGs are random, but you know in advance how the game is designed.
And in most cases you know that you get at least something.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It Is Dangerous To Go Alone...

...when you venture into the realm of virtual world research.

Take this:

I reasonably hope that Dr. Bartle and/or publisher won't sue me for what is effectively a free advertisement

This book is available, for instance, at Amazon, and it is worth every 1/100 of your national currency whatever the standpoint from which you research virtual worlds is.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Don't Miss: Cthulhu Saves The World

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was a talented man with uneasy personal life. He definitely succeeded in affecting modern popular culture with what may be called 'cosmic horror', the central line of his novels. 

Lovecraft's works may be considered too pessimistic, too gloomy, and probably this is the point why Cthulhu - inhuman cosmic entity - firstly became an internet meme, and then, due to the efforts of Zeboyd Games, a hero of a parody game. Fear is what Lovecraftian Cthulhu Mythos evokes, and laughter is a good way to overcome it. 

In Cthulhu Saves The World, available at Steam, the protagonist is firstly defeated and deprived of his (its?) cosmic powers. To regain them so that he can destroy the world he must become a true hero - save people, do other good things and so on. His first plan is to destroy the world after becoming a hero, but is this possible? No spoilers, I stop here.

The game has great oldschool 16-bit graphics and is a little bit less than overdozed with subtle humour. One of the strongest point is epic music which alone can make the game worth buying. 


Sunday, June 9, 2013

MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses

Further to my brief Coursera post, Allison Morris kindly offered me to share a nice chart focused on MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. 

Here is the link to the chart at Online Courses blog where it is published with resolution best for reading. Click 'READ MORE' to see some of my prima facie thoughts on the matter.

Why Virtual Property Is Better Than Real Property?

Because it does not burn.

Below is a picture of a kitchen corner in my apartment where a fire started three weeks ago, burning a plastic water pipe under pressure which led to property damage with smoke and water (and this explains why I was away from this blog). 

All appliances were in order and switched off, and there is no reason to believe that it was an arson. That is why I wonder now whether it was a kind reminder from above that the real world also deserves some attention? Or quite the opposite?

In any case, right now the consequences are mitigated, the repairs done, and life goes on. Do not forget to think about an insurance for such kind of situations, if insurance is not mandatory in your jurisdiction.   

Friday, April 5, 2013

We Could Say That We Really Live In An Information Society...

...when an academic degree would be obtained subsequent to the results of a collection of personal WEB 2.0 contributions - blog posts, YouTube uploads and other similar pieces of digital information.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Advancement, Elder and Cycling Games

One of the recent posts in Tobold's blog contains a reference to a good post at the Lost Garden blog maintained by Daniel Cook, who once worked with Epic Megagames on Tyrian arcade.

The post provides a brief analysis of 'advancement game' (grinding to maximum level) and 'elder game' (also known as the 'end-game') which jointly oppose completely different design of 'cycling game' which basically resets the game world once in a certain period of time.

An example the author gives is a 'A Tale in the Desert' MMO. I have not yet tried it and I am not sure how 'alive' it is, but it is definitely worth trying - you may get the same expectation if you check the skills page at the wiki or the page describing law making (!) process.

'A Tale in the Desert' screenshot from the official website
located at

When Two Accounts Collide

After I registered with the Slideshare with my Facebook account I wondered what will happen if a service you are registering with other service terminates or vice versa. This issue clearly has not only technological but also legal issues. To whom one should address a claim in case he/she cannot reach the account?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Slideshare: Legal Aspects of Social Networks

I registered with the Slideshare today which looks like an extremely useful service for sharing (and finding) presentations on every topic possible.

What I uploaded is a brief presentation delivered at a theoretical seminar on legal aspects of social networks. This time it is Russian-only, but most likely I will write more on this topic in English later this year. You may find the presentation here

Note that Slideshare seems to not support animation in presentations, so I excluded it from the last slide which was supposed to show that social networks are one step behind from virtual worlds in terms of how much problems of Internet law they congregate.

Besides, my second thought further to this presentation is that what was addressed by 'legal aspects of social networks' more properly shall be addressed as 'legal aspects of WEB 2.0'.

Check E-mails And Profiles At 'Email Sherlock'

At 'Email Sherlock' website you can check whether an e-mail is associated with profiles in some popular social networks.

This service is apparently useful in any kind of internet-related activity. However, I wonder to what extents a personal e-mail may and may not be considered private/privileged information?

Link to the profile of the author of this photo
at the source website:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Published Cases Involving Social Media Evidence

I have been browsing Internet on the topic of social networks and law, and stumbled upon a comprehensive list of published cases involving social media evidence for the first half of 2012 prepared by X1 Discovery.

Here is the link to this list.

It is definitely a useful piece of information which covers not only the issues of e-discovery itself, but also many other areas of law and technology intersection at the point of court practice. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Theft Of Virtual Objects In RuneScape

Many thanks to colleague from Denmark who shared the information on decision of Dutch Supreme Court concerning theft of virtual objects in popular RuneScape MMORPG.

The summary:

The Court of Appeal convicted the defendant of, briefly stated, the theft with violence, together with another person, of a virtual amulet and mask belonging to another person in the online game RuneScape.

From the evidence adduced at the appeal, it may be concluded that the defendant and his co-accused coerced the victim, using violence and the threat of violence, to surrender virtual objects in the game of RuneScape that had cost him time and effort to obtain. He was made to log into his RuneScape account and 'drop' the objects in the virtual game environment. The defendant was then able to use his own RuneScape account to appropriate the items dropped by the victim.

The appeal court held that this constituted a criminal offence under article 310 in conjunction with article 312 of the Criminal Code.

And the link to full text at official website.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Video Game-Based Methodology For Business Research

To continue with structuring of the material, I include a new headline keyword 'Review' for posts related to short summaries and links to mostly academic articles which I read in course of my research.

I would like to begin with the article 'Video Game-Based Methodology for Business Research' by Larry L. Lawson (professor of finance in the Steven L. Craig School of Business at Missouri Western State University) and Catherine L. Lawson (professor of economics at Missouri Western State University) originally published in Simulation Gaming 2010, vol. 41, PP. 360-373.

I accessed my copy at SAGE Journals repository, but most likely it requires some form of authorisation or subscription my University probably has.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Judge Richard Posner In Second Life

While preparing an article on virtual law I revealed an interesting fact about Judge Richard Posner. In 2006 he appeared in an event hosted by Creative Commons which took place nowhere but in Second Life!

Participation of the most prominent modern American legal theorist and judge in a virtual world can be a striking reference point for any virtual law article. Feel free to use this fact if you have not found it already.

My credit to Benjamin T. Duranske and Sean F. Kane who mentioned it in their article 'Virtual Worlds, Real World Issues'.

See full account of the event in Wagner James Au blog.

Screenshot cited (oh, can it?) in academic purposes from
All rights reserved by respective copyright holders


Russian Customs Won't Inspect Your Software

Adding a short reference in addition to considerations on customs control of software.

There is an official Letter by Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation of 17 March 2006 No. 15-14/8524 "On Customs Clearance of Information Transmitted by Internet" which explicitly states that software transferred by Internet are expemt from customs control as they fall out of the definition of an 'informational product' which refers to anything recorded on tangible medium.

Still, it is not a final legislative answer as official letters are not a source of law.

As a side note, the position state in the Letter of 17 March 2006 No. 15-14/8524 somehow resembles the funniest (albeit deadly correct) provision of Item 2 Article 336 the Customs Code of the Customs Union which states that when you declare electrical energy, you are not obligated to actually show it to customs authority in charge.  


A Good Article On Virtual Tax

A little bit earlier I referred to a problem of 'virtual tax' - whether proceeds (at least in real money) from virtual transactions should be taxed in real world.

A good overview of this issue is given by vanguard tax lawyers in the article "Taxing the Virtual World... And Beyond" (by Stephen P. Kranz, Lisbeth A. Freeman, and Mark W. Yopp).

An interesting aspect is that authors show certain similarity between virtual worlds, social networks and some other similar phenomena in terms of taxation. The article focuses on the U.S. tax system, but the perspective is global.

In any case, it is a real pleasure to see terms linke 'team deathmatch' in an article on legal topic.

Coursera And Lord of the Rings Online

Yesterday a colleague of mine shared a useful link to Coursera project. This resource offers a variety of free online courses (distant learning) hosted by various academics and institutions most of which result in a certificate. Although the practical significance of such certificates, in terms of career, will vary from situation to situation, this appears to be an interesting opportunity.

Looking through the courses available I noticed one directly related to game studies: "Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative" by Jay Clayton from Vanderbilt University. It is great that online games are gaining more and more academic attention. The syllabus of the course presents a good mix of game studies and literature, and as the prospect says, the coolest thing about the course is an opportunity to meet the instructor and classmates in Lord of the Rings Online!

Screenshot cited (oh, can it?) in academic purposes from 
All rights reserved by respective copyright holders stated at LotRO website:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Case Study Bits: ZAM Networks, LLC

This post is supposed to open a series of short notes dedicated, inter alia, to noteworth clauses found in various terms of service, mostly related to virtual worlds and/or game-related services.

A few days ago I decided to register with the famous, which actually added much to my World of Warcraft experience. And I noticed an interesting clause in their Terms of Use

New Poll Opened: Do We Need Positive Virtual Law?

Dear readers, my late congratulations on winter holidays! Thanks to everyone who occasionally visits this blog. Please be informed that I am still alive and well, just focused on the research of Internet and virtual law with a hope of publication in the end.

During this research I stumbled upon a couple of Russian court decisions which clearly fall within the scope of virtual law. A player sued major Russian MMORPG company asking for a compensation of money spent for two weeks of server downtime, money spent on a temporary virtual item which effectively lasted three days less than declared and, as usual, moral damages.