Regulating Virtual Behaviour: The Evolution of Law in Real and Virtual Spaces Lynne Hall University of Northumbria firstname.lastname@example.org Introduction This virtual life Virtual Society MUDs Legal Structures in MUDs Crime and Punishment This virtual life 6 out of 10 children have access to the net Biggest growing user population: women over 50 Increasing ubiquity of computer Computer provides an alternative to traditional forms of home-based recreation letter writing telephones games reading Living the virtual life Web Email Chat Gaming Working Shopping Communicating Interacting Virtual does not mean alone Raison d’etre of the net = communication Growing possibility to find others to communicate with. Many small societies in many spaces on the net interest groups café society village communities Multi-User Dimensions Text-based synchronous communication forums Multi-user Recreational Communication not just limited to speech Stable, well-used technology Geographically bounded spaces Immersive... MUD Society Occurs in context MUD provides plot, storyline and landscape Involves primarily violent activities Tends to be highly stratified deities / admin equivalent known players (high level, long time) mid-ranked players (approved of players) low-ranked players (low-level or “invisible”) newbies Role Playing MUDs Most typical sort of MUD Fantasy / Sci-Fi genre most common Players become a virtual character in an interactive novel Gaming activities focus on gaining experience, money, possessions The populace Group identity often strong race, guild, clan, city, church Strong personal loyalty between players Tendency to e-romance High potential for conflict between formal, identified groups between informal player groups Legal Systems Common / case law precedent hierarchical judicial structure adversarial judge as neutral arbitrator Code law codified permanent inquisitorial Legal Theories Legal Formalism scientific, positivist Legal realism law as action, judges as people Natural Law underlying fundamental moral principles Basis of law in MUDs Legal Formalism scientific, positivist Legal realism law as action, judges as people Natural Law underlying fundamental moral principles Deviant Behaviours? Ownership when is the object yours and when does it become public property? Property the right to private space Acceptable interactions what is acceptable in a RP MUD? Law in Virtual Communities Similar to real systems based on wrongful acts sources, enforcement agencies, penalties But not like real -> crimes committed, judged and punished in virtual space Precedent for separating the real and the virtual. LambdaMOOs Virtual Rape (Dibble) Administration of Law Games Admin as law providers dictatorial / oligarchical control structures codes of conduct Players as law providers tend to build on code of conduct increases democracy and player loyalty often highly successful, based on status in the MUD community Crime Harassment most serious MUD crime focused at the player not the character Theft often in-role Malicious Intent to Harm RP Muds: rape, violent assault, murder Social MUDs: destruction of property, verbal attacks Punishment Needs to be appropriate to context Varying degrees of severity Site / Player banning “Toading” Imprisonment Removal of status / experience Removal / destruction of possessions Virtual Law Credible within the context that it is applied (similar to nation / state based law) Effective has to be enforced to have an impact (similar to real world law) Relevant within any multi user environment deviance occurs and must be dealt with Virtual Law Incredible its not real, why should there be any need for it? Ineffective has no effect, very easy to avoid enforcement Irrelevant it doesn’t matter what people do in virtual space as this has no effect on the real Summary Sustained growth in computer supported co-operative recreation Need for social framework to regulate behaviour Crime and deviance do exist Virtual and real is there a cross-over?