Carol T. Chung attended the State of Play II conference this past weekend, which was sponsored by the New York Law School and Yale Law School from Oct 28 – 30. Here's her report:
THERE IS NO SPOON – I don’t think I’ll be able to watch that movie for a long time. There was no escaping it. Even the cable channel tbs was against me Saturday night when I got home. Before the screen even came up, some ridiculous commercial break announcer was screaming out the line repeatedly like a parrot squawking for dear life. But regardless of the evil television forces that are out to get me (i.e. the syndication of a certain show, I won’t name names, with four girls in a metropolitan city), the analogy seemed absolutely fitting in regards to virtual worlds and was unavoidably impossible to shake off once Yochai Benkler (Yale School of Law) mentioned it during the Intellectual Property/Digital Property panel on Friday morning.
SO lets back track a second, for those of you who have NO idea what this conference was about: the annual State of Play conference “explores the next frontier in the evolution of cyberspace: virtual worlds.” This year’s conference continued the dialogue from last year covering “emerging legal, economic, cultural and sociological issues.” In addition, it took special note of “the role of intellectual property and the role of governance in virtual worlds.” (I’m so glad I kept my program guide…)
Basically, what you get is a room filled with lawyers, game publishers and developers, academia, a bit of business folk – shake as well as you can, (although certain components will still tend to cluster) – and sprinkle over top with some students as garnish.
Much of what was discussed on Friday pertained to issues of intellectual property, free speech, virtual property and real markets, as well as governance. It wasn’t all lawyer talk though. The academic panelists who are doing research on or in virtual worlds also presented some of their findings for discussion on Saturday. In addition, Leo Sang-Min Whang (Yonsei University) gave us all insight on how virtual worlds were doing in the Asian market.
Friday night was the virtual world demos at the American Museum of Moving Image. There were presentations of work from game developers. Out of the six, my favorite would have to be Daniel James’ (from Three Rings in lovely Frisco, as the kids call it) presentation because he brought a wonderful sense of humor to the stage, as well as mentioning (perhaps jokingly, perhaps not) the notion of the developer’s role as a “beneficial dictatorship.” His was just one of six really fascinating presentations, which are all worth checking out. (see below)
Overall, I really enjoyed the conference. Although I feel the game developer and player experience were not as fully represented in the panel discussions as the lawyer perspectives, the fact that this conference even exists and opens up a serious dialogue about virtual worlds shows the potential and present influential impact of this medium.
For a play-by-play coverage, check out the Terra Nova blog, which was covering the event.
Or better yet, go to the State of Play II Video Streams and see it for yourselves.
Carol T. Chung is an expected spring 2005 BBA graduate from the Design Management Department at Parsons School of Design in New York City.