January 4th, 2006

Wanted: MMO Ambulance Chaser - Apply Within

If David Edery's look into the future of MMO's is correct, players may soon need to add an attorney to their AIM or Xfire buddy lists.

Edery, who works with Dr. Henry Jenkins in the Comparative Media Studies Department at M.I.T., also pens the excellent Game Tycoon blog. In today's post Edery looks at potential legal liabilities in massively-multiplayer online games such as Second Life, World of Warcraft and the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Noting a recent Terra Nova piece on the potential legal ramifications of Linden Labs' arbitrary decision to devalue virtual property in Second Life, Edery summarizes other legal entanglements which could eventually turn virtual worlds into a realm of lawyers. Edery's list includes:

- What happens when one player steals another player's property?

- What happens when players create content that infringes upon the copyrights or trademarks of real-world companies?

- What happens when players engage in 'legally indecent' acts? Can EA (developer of Sims Online) be sued for letting a ten-year old operate a virtual brothel? Can it be sued by players who suffer real financial damages at the hands of a virtual mafia?

- Can developers be sued for impeding free market forces that generate real monetary value for players?
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Brit Game Exec Honored with OBE

It's nice to see a video game executive pinned with something other than a lawsuit.

As reported by Gamasutra, game visionary Ian Livingstone has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for "services to the computer games industry."

Livingstone currently serves as product acquisition director at SCi, which purchased Eidos in 2005. However, Livingstone's career in the game business predates the PC era. He began on tabletop projects like Dungeons & Dragons and the Warhammer series. He has since worked with computer game publishers Domark, Eidos, and SCi.

"I am thrilled to have been awarded an OBE," Livingstone said. "It really is a tremendous personal honor but also recognition for the computer games industry which is a great UK success story. It's been brilliant making a career out of what is, after all, my hobby."

Past gamer-types honored with the OBE include Peter Molyneux, designer of Fable and The Movies.

Maryland Legislators Mull a Pair of Video Game Bills

The hits just keep on coming...

Despite a series of recent constitutional setbacks blocking video game laws from taking effect in California, Illinois and Michigan, a number of states will consider such legislation in 2006.

We can now add Maryland to the list. There, members of the General Assembly have proposed two such bills.

The first, HB 54, was proposed by Republican Delegate Wade Kach (left). HB 54 would block the sale or rental of games rated "Adults Only" (AO) to minors. Penalties include up to one year in jail or a $5,000 fine.

Not to be outdone by the Republicans, Democrat Justin Ross (right) has proposed HB 75, described by an informed source as "California redux."

Both bills will receive their first reading before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee next week.