[MUD-Dev] Games are not speech?

Crosbie Fitch crosbie at cyberspaceengineers.org
Mon Apr 29 15:10:56 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: Koster, Raph

> http://www.penny-arcade.com/lod3.php3

You could always point out that the US legal system is a game... ;-)

It might be a bit tricky to figure out the differentiating factors.

The thing is, a game is just life on a smaller scale. If justice is
to apply to human lives, then it must apply in any situation in
which humans deal.

Therefore, although it may be regarded as trivial, I see no reason
why one couldn't prosecute a player in a game of monopoly for
refusing to pay rent say, or stealing 500 dollars (tokens). Does one
have to demonstrate the scale of a plaintiff's damages before a
prosecution? If so, then we can all steal $5 from the Judge because
to him, it's a trivial amount.

So, first demonstrate that life is a game. Secondly demonstrate that
free speech must apply within a game just as much as it does in
life. The term 'game' is just a convenience used to identify an
agreement by players that they agree beforehand to out-of-court
settlements over a range of disputes that may arise whilst
conducting affairs in a clearly defined arena, e.g. I won't
prosecute you if you kill my character in EverQuest.

The manufacturer of a game can be a participating player, albeit by
proxy, in that they may specify certain actions (including speech)
that should occur at certain times during a game. Therefore, a game
may not be speech per se, but it may contain speech. It can also be
classed as a work of art (does art enjoy protection?).

Another idea could be to express the game in the form of source code
and/or design documents. If you published a Linux game as such,
would it then suddenly enjoy protection as speech?

Games are also systems of rules. Law is a system of rules. Should
law be denied protection because it doesn't actually contain any
ideas or expression thereof, but merely prescribes or demonstrates
justice.

Judge Limbaugh doesn't have much of an argument, but I wouldn't be
surprised if for a time games are misclassified. It's a bit like
redefining PI as three and a seventh.
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