Tag Archives: SL

Politics inside or outside the magic circle?

The magic circle seems a key concept in virtual worlds and gaming.  For origin of the term from Huzinga, see here.

The wikipedia article, in summarizing Castronova’s arguments, states:

Even though there are political activities inside synthetic worlds, it is interesting to note that “debates, which really do involve legitimate political interests, almost always occur outside the membrane rather than inside it.”[16

How about for SL?  Do these discussions happen inside or out?  What about other VWs?  Isn’t the story in Second Life Herald all about sparking these types of discussions in-world?  In TSO and also in SL?  And the apocryphal account of LambdaMOO discussion about the cyber rape was also in that world.

And is the point whether the discussion is between self-identified people or avatars?

Lastly, ignoring above distinction for the time, one of the lessons I draw from how discussions happen outside the membrane is that it is further proof of how users of VWs and MMOs are part of a broader institutional field.

“The organizational field isolates for analysis a system of organizations operating in the same realm as defined by relational linkages and shared cultural rules and meaning systems(118)”

(from: Scott, W. R., Davis, G. F., & Scott, W. R. (2007). Organizations and organizing : Rational, natural, and open systems perspectives (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.)

So, in the out-of-membrane discussions about politics, we see a network of players, or a community, instead of an organization formally, but nonetheless engaging in joint enterprise.  THis network is defined by its relation to the virtual world and also to other networks of players/users and also worlds.  They discuss and strategize about political questions pertaining to the synthetic world in ways that reveal shared (or contested) cultural rules and meaning systems,  What makes for  a good game?  What is fair?  What should different parties do?  These are questions relevant only in the context of a field.

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Filed under Gaming, organization theory, Research, social theory, technology, virtual worlds

Thoughts on SL Banking ban

I know I’ve talked to people about virtual worlds and when they point out that it is “odd” or somehow “wrong” for people to adopt other identities, I sometimes repsond that the ability to do so, or at least, the ability to do anything meaningful as your alter ego, will be limited by how porous the boundary between virtual and real wrold is.  moreover, that barrier is getting more porous in most cases.  As virtual worlds develop, what people want to do in and iwth them will bump against the very real world of durable identity and the need for regulation

So, the fall out from the banking crisis as described in his WSJ article seems to affirm my point.

First, only in SL  :>):

Cheer Up, Ben: Your Economy Isn’t As Bad as This One – WSJ.com
On Sunday night, the female character was wandering topless through the virtual lobby of a Second Life bank called BCX Bank, where a sign said it was “not currently accepting deposits or paying interest.”

I still don’t get very well what these banks’ business model was?  What is their loan portfolio?  How could they possible deliver 100% returns?  The answers are not clear.  I suppose partly it is speculative dynamics around land.  Do the bankers know about Linden’s plans to control land supply?  Would that constitute insider information?  Or, through fast growth SL business; this was the story behind Ginko Financial which failed last summer and was purportedly investing in gambling in SL (another story of regulation).

For example, how can this guy say the ban will not effect his business?

Cheer Up, Ben: Your Economy Isn’t As Bad as This One – WSJ.comSteve Smith, who runs BCX bank under the avatar name Travis Ristow, yesterday said depositors — who are owed a total of $20,000 — will be able to get their money back next week. The bank, which had promised to pay depositors more than 200% in annual interest, is now allowing only small withdrawals.

“This won’t affect us long term. It’s just a short-term difficulty,” said Mr. Smith, 40 years old, who also has significant land and real-estate interests in Second Life. He said he retired from the real-life mortgage business to devote his time exclusively to his Second Life enterprises.

Finally, there is one mention that one bank was arbitraging Linden-US exchanges to the tune of $15,000/year in profit. and

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Filed under Banking, Business, policy, Political Economy, Second Life, virtual worlds