Virtual Power Politics
Cornell Law School; Cornell Tech
April 19, 2005
Every decision made by the designers of a virtual world game is a political decision. Every debate over the rules and every change to the software is political. When players talk about the rules, they are practicing politics. Once you know to look for virtual politics, they're everywhere.
Designers are the governments of these virtual worlds. Like real governments, they make the laws under which citizens must live. And like real governments, they are accountable, after a fashion, to their constituents. Players use designers as agents, employing them to make and enforce the collective decisions that need to be made to make a virtual world function well. Designers focus the diffuse (and conflicted) will of the players into something actionable: software. More importantly, almost every design decision - even a seemingly uncontested one - has winners and losers.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 9
Keywords: Virtual worlds, cyberlaw
JEL Classification: K10
Date posted: April 26, 2005