Friday, May 26, 2006

Virtual worlds, visiting rights and restraining orders

Thought this might be interesting here. It's my post for today on the Guardian Gamesblog. In brief:
OK, now that I've covered the reasons hanging out with people in WoW may be more significant than hanging out in person, I'll get to my point.

What happens when parents get divorced? Say Parent A is given custody of Child and Parent B has visiting rights at weekends or holidays. Parent A doesn't play Online Game X but Parent B does, and plays for a couple of hours every night with Child. Does that undermine the judge's custody decision? Child isn't spending time with Parent A when s/he is hanging in Norrath with Parent B, so if Parent A losing out on important time with Child while Parent B and Child are experiencing enhanced shared experience, what implications does this have for future custody rulings?

Taking a more clear-cut (and probably less-emotional) example, what about virtual stalking? Or virtual restraining orders? As identities in cyberspace are mutable, real selves can be hidden by virtual selves. It is not the role of commercial companies to ensure that Account A is allowed to speak with/be within 10 miles of Account B, surely Account A playing with Account B under different cover is in breach of the court's judgement? When will we see restraining orders including time spent in a virtual world?

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