I’ve just attended Virtual Policy ’08 in London, organised by BERR and the Virtual Policy Network. This has been a different event because it has brought together regulators, industry, educators, developers, economists, and academics to explore current and future policy issues involving virtual worlds. The wide number of sectors represented has produced an interesting combination of papers (and wide range of dress styles). You can catch some discussion of the policy issues at this week’s Guardian’s Technology Podcast with Aleks Krotoski and Ren Reynolds.
One of the highlights of the event for me was to hear Professor Richard Bartle, who I had heard before at last year’s State of Play. Richard Bartle is an entertaining speaker, and he made some interesting points about regulation, demographics and entertainment. One of the things I really enjoyed was how he explained the popularity of games like WoW or Age of Conan by explaining it as part of Joseph Campbell’s heroic archetypes. There is also a very clear split between the gamers and the Second Lifers in this area of study, and Richard Bartle broke the truce and mentioned that SL is only a small part of virtual worlds (5 W0W servers worth), while the largest number of players are in game-oriented worlds. I almost stood up and cheered.
Other highlights for me were the IP panel in which yours truly participated. David Naylor gave an excellent introduction to some of the most pressing infringement issues, while Andreas Loeber gave a very good introduction to some of the potential issues in avatars and personality rights.
We also had a very good panel on Financial issues, where former student Simon Bradshaw gave a cracking presentation on the question of whether virtual currency is electronic money.
This was a very good event, so I will not be posting any doodles from it.