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Witty Ranter #10
Sun, 10 Aug 2008 02:21:00 GMT [download/play]

Yes, Witty Ranter is back!  Adam apologizes for being such a freaking slacker and letting real life take over from podcasting, (Since when does Real Life come before Podcasting????) and comes back with a new show.

Today's topic: "MMO's & Government Policy:  How much is too much?"  We will be looking at how changes in the current policy by governments may detract or possibly even radically alter the MMO landscape. 

Joining the conversation is Jonathan from The Online Gamer's Anthology, Luper from the Voyages of Vanguard Podcast, and new to the show are Brian and Patrick, 2 of the lead developers of the upcoming MMO Force of Arms.  Enjoy!

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Episode 10 Discussion Thread

'Great Episode!' by Jonathan
Submitted on 2008-08-10 01:47:49 CST
I really enjoyed the topics you came up with in this episode. Alot of very good questions and scenarios I continued to ponder on long after the show was over. Keep up the great work! It's great to have you back, my friend!

'Man, we're spoiled.' by Checksix
Submitted on 2008-08-10 10:11:25 CST
It's interesting to me the way all the panelests come at all these questions from an U.S. American persepctive.

The moment the government determines that they have the ability to govern virtual worlds in the same manner as the real world then taxation and police actions become the perview of the government, not the game company.

Don't think it can happen? Don't think the government can make laws in a non real world? They in point...censorship.

The government can, and has, regulated virtual worlds (books, tv, movies, etc) with laws through censorship.

The question I keep coming to is, when does the virtual world become interesting to the government. When 5% of it's citizens play? 20%? 50%?

In Police states, they would see a chance to brand the virtual property with their nationalist brand and put it infrot of a large portion of the population. In the U.S., theres the potential for taxation.

It may seem very 1984 of me to say so...but...the government will regulate virtual worlds in direct porportion to the number of citizens that "live" in them.

'Re: 'Man, we're spoiled'' by trollonfire
Submitted on 2008-08-10 11:22:31 CST
I agree with you Checksix that the viewpoint was very "American", but unfortunately I didn't have any contributors I knew of from the Far East, the location of much of those policies of which you speak.

I did try and keep the conversation mindful of those Eastern policies, but I admit that even I got caught up in it.

If you know of someone who can give me an Eastern viewpoint, please by all means contact me, I'd love to have them on the show!

'But censorship of what?' by Beauturkey
Submitted on 2008-08-10 13:37:25 CST
I am not sure what the government is censoring right now in games, and what they could in the future.

If we mean "tapping" your chat boxes and stuff like that, that is a different story.

Of course, we all must know that everything we say and do inside these virtual worlds could be anyone's business if any of these games say so. Games own the actual virtual space, and that includes what you are saying.

I have not listened yet (Sunday yard work right now) but was just commenting on what Check six meant by censoring.

'RE: Censorship' by Checksix
Submitted on 2008-08-10 16:04:51 CST
Well...I guess the ESRB is one form of censorship. Eventhough it's self regulated at this point, it exists to curb government involvment in the industry. Video games learned from comics that you want to appear to be governing your self for the public good or congress will do it for you. Ever heard of the Commics Code? That came about because of congressional hearings...true story.

The FCC currently owns governance responsibility of all tranmissions...including the intertubes. The FCC could, by it's mandate, issue a rule today that would prohibit some materials from being transmitted over a wire in any form. Of course, how would they enforce that but thats another story. More likely the FCC would "band" the internet into uses and sections and tax us based on our use of that banding. They do it today with over the air spectrum!

Books have been censored, TV is censored, movies are censored. The government has rules about what you can and can't show in movies (like harming a child in certin ways). What makes video games any different in terms of government oversight than they are?

But even so...lets leave OUR government out of it for a minute and look at China. Google just released a huge press announcement that they would censor search findings according to Chinease government policy. Even though Google isn't a Chinease company and the some sites that it finds are not Chinease property either. The fact is, the Chinease government claims all rights in any virtual space within their shores (defined by the person in their borders using the virtual space). By claiming those rights, they now can make laws in that space. And who can stop them? They have the right and responsibility to govern their own people in the best way they see fit.

I think China could very well, one day, look at Blizzard and say "In order to operate your game here, we need over sight". And Blizzard would do it too...if the money was right :)

'*nods at Checksix* ' by Luper
Submitted on 2008-08-10 17:07:52 CST
For sure man. I agree. I think I used America as an example a bit too often and that is just because I have experience with American policies and such more so than any other country. It would've been really neat to have someone from the East side on the panel.

I believe that gaming companies would bend over (if the price was right) for most countries on most of the policies being discussed. I think a lot of what we agree'd on was that the releasing of a lot of these policies would have to only affect those in that area. Checksix offered a great example with the Chinese government and google.

'There is no difference..' by Beauturkey
Submitted on 2008-08-10 18:53:40 CST
..with video-games and movies, as far as what they should censor. I think we are all in agreement that children being harmed or children SEEING stuff like that should not happen. That's what the boards and ratings are for, as they are now.

Remember the old Tipper Gore stuff? The uhm..I forget what it's called being that I was a lil younger when it happened, but basically she successfully forced recording artists to put Parental Warnings on their albums, warning of language or other material not suitable for children.

I think it was a good idea. No artist has the right to put out anything that might be "adult material" without warning the public first. This all comes down to children, again. SO these types of "censors" are there for a reason.

And anyway, if you really want the sick stuff (Not saying that any of us DO, lol ) we all know you can find it. This is the free-est (do I put a dash in there?) society out there, and I think (THINK) it will stay that way.

Sorry for a slight de-rail. :)