Article summary- Marlon H.
This article starts out by noting the creative power offered by several games, including City of Heroes (Coh), which behaves much like a “high-tech deck of crayons,” serving the gamer in their ability to create (even in cases of copyright infringement) super heroes. This, again, reminds us of the upcoming game Spore, in the two games abilities to create worlds, obscene creations (if intended, such as Boobalicous, a Spore character created by someone that caused controversy for her robust, naked mid region). With the use of these “Creation Engine’s” as the starting point of his article, T.I. Taylor makes it perfectly clear that from creating “tax protests in Second Life, to offering out underage prostitutes in the Sims, anything is possible in the world of games such as these.
The many spheres of communication orbiting around any video game—e.g. fan forums, etc.—represent the “collective production of game experience.” That is to say, if these newer forms of media did not exist, the game would not be recognized as the same, as they have been incorporated on the fringes of the game space, and once clean, now tangled boundaries separating the game from the rest have become faded and smudged. Consumers, essentially, serve as a wall of the echo chamber for game creators, “beta-testing” games for creators.
Other than the game creators there exist a plethora of co-constructions that play a hand in deciding the formulation of the space surrounding the game.
Culture matters- today’s ‘culture’ sees a great extension in authorship rights, explains
.With so many corporations being considered legal ‘citizens’ in the court of law, Taylor argues that copyright laws, which are meant to die off after said author kick’s the boot, can today be as immortal as any number of undying corporations. And what about the creators of the pieces within the larger work owned by the corporation? Well, they have no rights to it either. It’s the corporation that owned them when the piece was created and therefore the corporations it remains.
This leads the discussion down a familiar avenue dealing with file-sharing networks such as Napster. “Game worlds,” explains
Clearly, with the ban on auctioning characters and powers, many people feel cheated, as the labor they invested in the game should be worth something. The corporate realm, however, controls the sword and usually wins out in battles over intellectual property. When an entire account can be whipped out at corporate headquarters, players are reminded squarely about where the power lies. Relying heavily on his example of EverQuest (EQ),
When EQ players found a way to open more than one application while playing the game—such as an mp3 or another game screen—this allowed players to play the game in a way the company had deemed ban-able. This would give someone a chance to undo mistakes, to look up directions online, etc. that was unfair to the other players who knew not these secrets. The author is not interested in the rightness or wrongness of this debate, but is rather interested in the discussions this raises about ‘fair play.’
Taylor then folds this debate back into earlier considerations taken into account by the article, such as EQ’s right (or lack-there-of) to pull the account of a player that chronicled a violent rape and revenge murder scene that took place within the game space. Should not this person have the right to freedom of speech, to print a fiction about the game? According to EQ, they did not. The biggest question coming out of all of this is, of course, whether or not the corporations have such rights to do such things to consumer authors?
Eventually EQ apologized to the author, perhaps pointing this debate conclusion in the direction of the consumer. With EQ itself being deeply rooted in fantasy lore that came into being before the game, people are forced to extend the same debate about ownership into the past, along with projecting it to the future. Are EQ creators hypocrites for creating such a double-standard?
Remapping Ownership- With new ideas of market relations emerging in the face of this dilemma, one is reminded of Sharendipity, at least for this class, as
The idea of creating a “Guild Summit”—a congress of sorts in which top players represent the world of gamers in negotiations with management—plays into the conclusion of the article as an interesting segue into future possibilities. This issue is far too complex for game designers to tackle alone, and thus, there must be an interplay and exchange through all of the areas surrounding a game space. There must, more than anything, be movements towards employing more progressive depictions of intellectual property, and of the possibly elastic nature of those rights.