In the second issue of the first volume of the Interactive Entertainment Law Review you will find the editorial (linked to through the above screencap) titled “Magic Circle or not?”. The material therein was essentially worked through with the help of the class during the past semester as can be evidenced through bits and pieces locatable in various of this semesters’ PowerPoints and Videos. The bottom line is (and this is hardly a new argument – credit Professor Mia Consolvo with the most articulate and original version) that the Magic Circle is not something we should treat as real, because it never was nor will be. There is no digital world, only the real world with the digital aspects and manifestations within it. That, of course, does not mean that everything that manifests digitally should be treated by law as the equivalent of the event depicted. The murder of a digital avatar in a game is decidedly not a real world murder for legal purposes, but nor is it automatically and necessarily an event without meaning or consequence. So much must depend on context and real-world impacts, as the example of sexual assault in the Editorial should illustrate.
The point being that if we simply accept what is obviously true, that the digital world we surf and play in, is just part of the real world, it becomes substantially easier to calibrate the appropriateness (or not) of legal interventions. The so-called “Magic Circle” was never IMHO a description of an alternate universe but rather an explanation for differential rule-making within our own.
The next post on “Defaming Avatars” digs a bit deeper into what all this looks like when applied….