In a Virtual Universe, the Politics Turn Real

The New York Times has an article up on radical developments in the MMO Eve Online.

In a Virtual Universe, the Politics Turn Real

It’s very interesting that this company has created a new form of oversight for their virtual universe in response to user accusations of favoritism towards certain players. In a way, this makes perfect sense when you think about the virtual world platform, and the large dedicated (and paying) user base.

Here are two quotes from the linked article:

“Perception is reality, and if a substantial part of our community feels like we are biased, whether it is true or not, it is true to them,” Hilmar Petursson, CCP’s chief executive, said in a telephone interview. “Eve Online is not a computer game. It is an emerging nation, and we have to address it like a nation being accused of corruption.”

“A government can’t just keep saying, ‘We are not corrupt.’ No one will believe them. Instead you have to create transparency and robust institutions and oversight in order to maintain the confidence of the population.”

I am wondering how long it will be before other MMO’s and virtual worlds will move to this sort of model of governance. Second Life has been experiencing many different issues lately, many having to do with intellectual property issues and user disputes. These issues are now coming to bear on these companies in the form of legal challenges (see blog post on Linden Lab lawsuit). It will be interesting to see if this move eases the concerns of the Eve Online players, and if other MMO and Virtual World companies move to a similar model anytime in the near future.

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