The third annual LSBC Rule of Law Lecture took place on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at UBC Robson Square. The speakers addressed subjects that become more relevant in Video Game Law every year. Among the vexing questions are “To Regulate or Not to Regulate?” and how privacy law fits (or not) in a digital world. Given that the speakers were the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and Richard Peck, QC., the perspectives shared were particularly thoughtful. Mr. Peck’s succinct history of privacy law is masterful in illustrating its importance and limitations in a digital world where contractual consents (by way of video-game End User Licence Agreements in our case) are so easily obtained.
Video of this great event follows…
Blockchain is not an ever-present subject in Video Game Law, but has certainly come up on a reasonably regular basis in the over the years. When it does come up it often does so with great passion. There are video-games such as CryptoKitties (https://cryptokitties.co) which use blockchain to great advantage. Ubisoft is working on a blockchain-based game called HashCraft. There has also been some speculation about whether blockchain can be of use in creating and maintaining an ongoing eco-system for multi-player games without central servers once the developer/publisher of the game has stepped way.
Personally the jury remains mostly still out for me on whether blockchain is an answer to a question few if anyone is asking. That said the possibility remains that blockchain applications might bring some helpful privacy solutions and/or decentralizing solutions. So it is that my participation as an Academic Partner in Blockchain@UBC (https://blockchain.ubc.ca) has focussed on inquiry and rigor (I hope).
Attached below are the slides for the presentation I made on “Regulation & Blockchain” at the 3rd Annual Blockchain@UBC Summer Institute (https://blockchain.ubc.ca/education/blockchainubc-summer-institute) on June 3, 2019. There are certainly more than a few video-game references. Hopefully the slides might prove somewhat helpful or instructive to those interested in the area and its development.
Was very privileged to be asked to give a talk to a group of high school students who were spending a couple of day at Allard as part of a program put on by the Vancouver Summer Mentorship Society. More information about the society and it’s good work can be found on their GoFundMe page here: https://ca.gofundme.com/vancitymentors
It was a lot fun from my perspective. Great questions from some super-smart very eager minds.
Promised that I’d get the slides from the presentation up on the website – so here they are…Sorry it took so long.
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….
In Class 8 on October 31, 2018 the class did some group work creating a game with impact. The pedagogic purpose behind the work was the hope that having “built” a game no matter how ephemerally, the consequences of regulation of games in various guises could be explored more fully and functionally. That said (and done) the games themselves proved to be rather amazing and worth remembering. So here they are in essentially unexpurgated form:
GROUP 1: The idea involves a device that you wear while sleeping. It records brain activity and can be used in conjunction with a virtual reality headset to replay and interact with dreams while awake. Possible monetization could come from hardware sales or through selling data collected from the device to companies to help with subliminal marketing.
GROUP 2: A 4-D virtual reality horror game which relies on a brain implant to understand your deepest fears. The game will then use this information to construct an environment which is tailored to your specific fears. The experience will be augmented by the 4D aspect – players will be able to ‘feel’ certain things to truly create the ultimate horror experience. Aside from being of appeal to adrenaline junkies, the game could also be used as a form of immersion therapy – assisting people in overcoming their fears by experiencing them first hand.
GROUP 3: We mainly talked about a game involving critical and strategic decisions concerning real life problems. You take the position of the president and can make basically every decision you want and see the impact it creates regarding politics, economy, voters etc. You succeed by rebuilding a strong economy, winning elections and keep international conflicts at bay. Inspiration wise we looked at House of Cards. YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU.
GROUP 4: Idea – VR simulation while flying. Explanation – The idea is that aircraft will be equiped with VR headsets that are available to flyers to use. The games that will be played on the aircraft will mostly be stationary game. We thought that a flight simulator might be a good game to include. We were also thinking of including a Matrix-like world simulation in which each player could possibly play as an avatar and even “walk around” and meet other people on the same plane. Benefits: The customers will be calmer as it will completely immerse them in an alternate reality. They will be more willing to spend long durations in tighter spaces (maybe cram more customers on a plane).
GROUP 5: Essentially, it is a two-pronged data collection platform and virtual world builder and simulator. The player wears a headset which, while they sleep, collects data as to what they are dreaming about and the environment in which they are dreaming. This is then manufactured into a virtual world from which you can explore the dream as a 3rd or 1st person to further explore, understand or just enjoy your dream. As a side note, we thought it was highly marketable because you could do two things to make it highly profitable: first, it would be possible to market in game and sell to the user’s subconscious (or remove this for a fee) or second, collect data on what people are dreaming about, what it is that they deeply desire and then sell that data for marketing purposes.
Class 12 – 11/28/18; “The Future of Video Games” + “Game On: Become the Most Profitable Developers” + “Concilliations & Conclusions”
For reasons that as I understand it cannot be explained other than by “the Ghost in the Machine”, the video of this very fun class is not available. The Lecture Capture equipment ended recording another classroom. In a strange way, this may be better – as this particular class may well live on to be romanticized beyond what is reasonable. Certainly it will be in my mind, and speaking personally, I have no problem with that. However to ground us in at least some semblance of what actually happened as we weave our individual narratives, the actual slides are attached…. 😉
Slides and video below. Unfortunately there is another unexplained video outage (still being investigated by UBC IT) part way through, but audio and slides are still there, and in reality that’s what is really needed.
Note that in “Mobile Gaming” slides there is a part that there was not time for during the presentation about kids mobile games and COPPA violations in the US that you may find interesting.