Virtual Worlds in Legal Studies: An Inquiry into the Subject of Research

20 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2012

Date Written: April 30, 2011


The interest in virtual worlds as a field of research at the intersection of law, science and technology is increasingly growing. However, while there are a variety of papers by economists, sociologists and some other researchers, the topic is far from being elaborated in the discourse of philosophy and sociology of law. Yet, virtual worlds offer this research opportunity as well. This paper suggests an updated definition of the concept of virtual world in context of other related technology phenomena, while the particular emphasis is made on reconstruction of social reality and internal point of view as the features which allow to interpret virtual worlds as models of society with inherent internal elements, including without limitation legal system. The argumentation for presence of law (or some kind of quasi-law at least) in virtual worlds is based on the sound statement that those virtual worlds which constitute suitable objects of legal research have functional economies. Besides the model approach, virtual worlds may also be viewed as a platform for social experiment, something which could hardly be allowed in the real world. With attention to further implications, the paper offers a case study of World of Warcraft as one of the most popular modern virtual worlds.

Keywords: Law, Philosophy of Law, Economics, Computer Games, Virtual World, Model of Society, Social Experiment, World of Warcraft

Suggested Citation

Arkhipov, Vladislav, Virtual Worlds in Legal Studies: An Inquiry into the Subject of Research (April 30, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Vladislav Arkhipov (Contact Author)

Saint Petersburg State University ( email )

7-9, Universitetskaya nab.
Saint Petersburg, 199034

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