May 27th, 2006

Second Life Publisher Sued Ove Virtual Land

How real is your virtual world? Do you have any rights to the virtual property you've purchased, whether it be items, gold, or land?

One of the most contested trends in multiplayer online gaming is the ability to trade real-world cash for online goods. But do you really own those goods, which don't exist as much more than digital information?

Attorney Marc Bragg seems to think so, which is why he's suing Linden Labs, creators of Second Life, a popular Massively-multiplayer Online (MMO) game. Bragg alleges that Linden has denied him access to his virtual assets. The attorney has posted a press release about the suit on his website.

Bragg v. Linden Research, was filed May 1 in a local district court in West Chester, Pennsylvania. According to Wired, Bragg filed suit after Linden cut off access to his virtual estate (his "sims" or virtual land plots), which includes several nightclubs, and denied him access to his supply of Linden dollars (virtual cash), worth about USD $3,200.
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Nuke Plant Guard Caught Playing Handheld Game

It's the site of America's worst nuclear accident. And it's only about 90 miles from GamePolitics HQ.

The guards at Three Mile Island nuclear plant are supposed to be alert.

As reported by the Solanco News, a guard at the facility near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, failed to notice the "repeated approach" of an inspector from the state's Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP conducted its spot check between 4:00 A.M. and 8:00 A.M. Friday morning.

The reason for the guard's inattention? According to a DEP report filed with the office of Gov. Ed Rendell, the unnamed guard was absorbed in an unspecified handheld video game system.

Let's just hope it wasn't the Nintendo DS version of Ice Age 2: The Meltdown.

While TMI guards are permitted to use electronic devices, computers and books to help stay alert, DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty told the Solanco News that the incident with the handheld game demonstrates a need to re-evaluate what is permissible.

"The issue is not the guard's use of the video game, because current procedures don't specifically prohibit those games," McGinty said. "The real issue is that his complete absorption in the game distracted him from noticing the repeated approach of our inspector. And that shows why this procedure needs to be changed and these video games disallowed."

The DEP notified the plant operator of the guard's failure to notice the inspector. The operator then notifed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The three entities will evaluate the incident and develop policies to prevent it from happening again. DEP's unannounced security tests are conducted by its Bureau of Radiation Protection.

Update: The Harrisburg Patriot-News has more, including more details on the guard's assignment: "The guard was at a staging post... such posts are like firefighters. They respond to emergencies. During their part of the shift at a staging post, they don't patrol, conduct surveillance, or watch monitors..."

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