Online multiplayer games: a virtual space for intellectual property debates?
Source InformationDecember 2006, Volume8(Issue6) Page969To990
This article explores how online multiplayer digital games are used as a venue for the negotiation of intellectual property rights. Recent disputes between players and creators are contributing to both a shift in contemporary notions about the nature and limits of copyright and a growing relationship between virtual leisure and real-world economics. A brief overview of the debate as it has been portrayed in both academic literature and the popular press will provide the context for this analysis. The focus then shifts to the ways in which existing laws and understandings about intellectual property are transforming to accommodate the unique characteristics of online multiplayer games. The contentious issue of labor within online gaming is discussed through a consideration of shifting social conceptualizations of play and the confounding of leisure and labor. The underlying use value-exchange-value relationship is also explored within the theoretical framework of a political economic perspective.