Escaping the Gilded Cage: User Created Content and Building the Metaverse
University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
New York Law School Law Review, Forthcoming
Ever since science fiction awoke imaginations to the promise of real, shared virtual spaces, technology has been chasing this dream. However, despite the enormous technical advances of the last decade, the concept of a broadly appealing online world has not yet been realized. At the same time, the rise of massively multiplayer online role-playing games has brought millions of players into online, persistent state worlds, where they spend tremendous amounts of time and money each year living, trading, fighting and dying. Players learn how to customize and to create within the online spaces, as well as how to extract this value back into the real world. Interestingly, this behavior exists even within worlds that don't explicitly allow user created content and in those that explicitly ban economic gains. The pervasive nature of user created content and free markets, while at odds with the desires of online game developers, demonstrates the opportunity for a different kind of online world. This Article will show how proper economic and legal decisions can be used to harness the power of player creativity to maximize the virtual world's growth in order to build an online space as rich and complex as the real world.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: Information and Internet Services, Computer Software, Virtual Worlds, Second Life
JEL Classification: L86
Date posted: May 18, 2004