Sunday, June 11, 2006

Digging to China

Regulating how the rules of conventional society translate to a virtual environment becomes even more complicated in the context of an authoritarian state.

This boundary confusion becomes particularly vexing when hundreds of thousands of players are engaged, who create their own community standards, as is the case of the playing of World of Warcraft in China. When theft of a virtual sword from a game in a similar genre, Legend of Mir 3, wasn't recognized by local authorities, one enraged gamer turned to murder, as the BBC reported.

Following the case, associate law professor at Beijing's Renmin University of China said that such weapons should be deemed as private property because players "have to spend time and money for them".

But a lawyer for one Shanghai-based internet game company told a Chinese newspaper that the weapons were in fact just data created by games providers and therefore not the property of gamers

Warcraft itself has been held responsible by the media as a possible cause of a teen suicide, although a suit by his grieving parents was rejected by the courts. In response to an official gaming crackdown on hours of play, protestors staged a mass suicide within the game to express their political defiance.

Even adultery blamed on Warcraft-related interactions can be subject to crime and punishment by Chinese crowds in both virtual and face-to-face environments, as online lothario and college student "Bronze Mustache" discovered when he decided to pursue a married woman, "Quiet Moon."

But if you want to figure out the difference between right and wrong, be careful before turning to the Chinese wikipedia, which was created to offer a state-sponsored alternative to a supposedly subversive, transnational encyclopedia, even if large chunks are plagiarized from the original and even taken from parodic imitators like the Uncyclopedia. My favorite Uncyclopedia entry is on dirt, although there is also an entry on the People's Republic of China.

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Blogger ChinaLawBlog said...

The Uncyclopedia and China's homegrown Wikipedia are similar in that neither one strives for the truth.

Nice post.

11:06 AM  

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