Video games aren’t just, well, fun and games. When you pop open a video game — be it Farmville on Facebook for your smartphone or World of Warcraft on your $10,000 immersive gaming setup — you are entering into any number of different terms and conditions agreements about behavior and property that govern your playtime. But questions have started to arise as more and more games build the concept of virtual property into their play. New powers, levels, avatars, privileges — who do those things belong to, and under what jurisdiction do they fall?
Greg Lastowka is a professor of law at Rutgers University and author of the book Virtual Justice: The New Laws of Online Worlds. Lastowka has given a great deal of thought to the virtual worlds of video games, and documented some of the cases where the laws of the game and the laws of real life clash, sometimes violently.