For anyone still relatively unaware of some of the practical, behavioral issues surrounding virtual world activity, there’s an article on C|Net by regular vr writer Daniel Terdiman which you might wish to read. Titled “Who governs virtual worlds?” (Link), it provides a decent if broad overview of the problems being encountered. For reference, you might also read about a scam (reLink) that was pulled off in the popular “EVE Online” MMORPG; when I was reading the article, that came to my mind.
The punchline, of course, is towards the end:
Ultimately, then, the panelists seem to suggest that if players want real governance, at least when it comes to issues between themselves, they are going to need to self-govern. As to complex issues between players and the publishers, it’s likely that real disputes will need to be elevated to the courts.
The problem with self-governance is that participants are usually at odds in simply defining “real dispute”. If someone is willing to commit real world murder over a virtual item (reLink), that’s obviously a real world issue. But what happens if scamming players, as was done in Eve Online and is done in many other virtual worlds, is considered gameplay by the ones executing the scam?
I think this is where a universal reputation system could be helpful; not just inside virtual worlds and games, but online in general. It might even make its way to the real world (see an earlier post to understand how that might happen – reLink).
Of course then we all would worry about someone scamming the reputation system.