26.6.07

A(n inoquous) Declaration of Virtual World Policy

Synthetic Worlds Initiative at Indiana University convened the second Ludium Conference this past weekend in Bloomington, and attendees were charged with hammering out a well-considered platform to guide virtual world policy. The result, unfortunately, is inoquous and says nothing:

A Declaration of Virtual World Policy
made by representatives of law, industry, and academia, assembled in full and free convention as the first Synthetic Worlds Congress.

Whereas virtual worlds are places with untapped potential, providing new and positive experiences and effects, we resolve that:

  • A self-governance group of virtual world stakeholders should be formed
  • A players’ bill of rights should be drafted
  • A universal age verification system should be created to support the individual rights of all users
  • Virtual world designers should have freedom of expression
  • Virtual worlds should include plain-language End-User License Agreements (EULA) to enable all individuals to understand their rights
  • There are different types of virtual worlds with different policy implications
  • Access is critical to virtual worlds, so net neutrality must be maintained Game developers shall not be liable for the actions taken by players
  • Fair use may apply in virtual worlds that enable amateur creation of original works

Now, lets see... I'll take as an example, my own little Virtual World:

A self-governance group of virtual world stakeholders should be formed. In my VW, GOD's govern. I am the only GOD at the moment, and I decide who else can get to be a GOD.

A players’ bill of rights should be drafted. In my VW, players have the right to do whatever they want to, but if they piss me off, they'll suffer the consequences, like, for instance, the wrath of the GODs.

A universal age verification system should be created to support the individual rights of all users. In my VW, any user has the right to go there to do anything they have the right to do (check above), whatever its age. The verification is automatic: if it's logging in, then it has an age, and any age is suitable. Welcome :-)

Virtual world designers should have freedom of expression. Of course, in my VW anywone has freedom of expression. They have other freedoms also, like reacting in any way of their choice to what others express.

Virtual worlds should include plain-language End-User License Agreements (EULA) to enable all individuals to understand their rights. Yup, in my VW users have a plain-language "rules file" (simmilar to an EULA). The latest version, created a couple of years ago, says (free translation to English) "The are no defined rules at the moment".

There are different types of virtual worlds with different policy implications. Erm... Thanks for elucidating me. What's the point?

Access is critical to virtual worlds, so net neutrality must be maintained Game developers shall not be liable for the actions taken by player. Erm... Excuse me? Access is critical to VW's, yes, so VW developers should take that into account when developing their VW's, or else they'll suck. What has that to do with net neutrality or liability? And of course that people should be the ones liable to their own actions, duh...

Fair use may apply in virtual worlds that enable amateur creation of original works. May? May is the same as saying "Can", it's not a "Must" nor a "Should", so this sentence this nothing at all. Virtual Worlds may have between 1000 and 4000 users, for instance. So what?
The government should provide a comprehensive package of funding for educational games research, development, and literacy. Intriguing. I also think that Governments should provide funding for education, including that related to Virtual Worlds. But what does it have to do with anything?

OK, you might be a little confused now on what is this all about. My point here is that even my little VW complies with everything of this - ever complied - and that's not because it is a great of a thing (well, it's a successful VW, if you take into consideration that it has already 9 years, and no signs of dying). What I'm trying to say is that this is just an attempt to create hype about Virtual Worlds, instead of doing reall stuff to really enhance the VW's development...

I guess I'm just tired of allways seeing the same agenda, here, in the Metaverse Roadmap...

Do you know what I really think the VW's world need? Less comercial interests, more genuinity. Start working on that, and Virtual Worlds will see brighter and brighter days soon enough...