Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How Do You Subpoena a 12th Level Rogue Orc?

The man in the purple coat was planning to kill me. That much was certain. I looked around. I was in a shoddy tavern and was surrounded by innocent bystanders.

Cautiously, I fingered the hilt of my rune-encrusted two-handed broad sword hidden beneath my cloak, and nodded once toward my dark-robed friend in the corner. The man in purple continued his bee line toward me. I knew his friend mus be in the crowd, but I had more friends in the room as well.

As my dark-robed friend finally finished her incantation, a brilliant flash of blue light filled the room, and the man in purple found himself bound by a level 5 binding spell. I struck a lethal hit-point draining blow as his allies and my own erupted from the shadows...

It was late. I played out the melee, saved the game and shut down my computer. Then, I looked at the clock.

"Jesus Christ, it's fucking late!" I said aloud to no one in particular.

I had meant to go to bed much earlier. MUCH earlier, but I had chosen to play just five more minutes. That actually equated to four more hours.

But that was the way it was with computerized role playing games back in the day. The story was linear. The parameters were limited. You played against the computer. You played until you got tired (or got a girlfriend) and put it away.

Things, it appears, have changed however.

These days, it's all online. It's hours days or weeks at a time on line, living in a virtual world as a virtual ogre or an elf, wielding magical weapons and bearing outrageous costumes. It's a life style. It's life.

I, of course, have no time for such things anymore, what with parenting, litigating and blogging. But, I can see the allure.

And then I read the article about the lawsuit in Florida.

OK, hold on to your thinking caps as you follow me down this rabbit hole...

Seems, in the World of Warcraft, the biggest MMRPG in the world, the make believe Tolkien-inspired creature characters rely on a form of electronic credit-based wealth, euphemistically referred to as "Gold." They use Gold to pay for increased training, better armor and wickedly devastating weapons.

The gold does not exist outside of the game. It is game gold, like monopoly money, and the more they can get their hands on, either from conquest or mining, the more they can enjoy the game. And so, folks smarter than me formed actual businesses, in the real world, in our world, dedicated to mining play gold and selling it in the real world for real money.

They have been , by all accounts, wildly successful.

So successful, that some of the straight players, people who fight dragons and war against warlocks to earn their reward, are pissed off at the modern day short cutters. See, the game is smart and adjusts values, prices and rewards based on make believe inflation. It's controls are tighter than the federal reserve. So, this artificial flush of wealth has thrown the whole enchilada catty wampus.

And that, my friends, is where the lawyers have gotten involved. Real life, legal-pad-wielding, suit-wearing lawyers, representing various players have filed a class action lawsuit against gold farmers seeking various injunctive relief and damages.

No lie.

Real people are paying real money to real lawyers to file a real lawsuit to stop a real company from farming for fake gold and selling it to fake people for real money in a fake world. (you may need to read that part twice.)

I mean, what is it that is being sold? It isn't even material, like Monopoly money. It is gold colored numbers on a computer screen in a virtual bank account in a virtual bank in a make believe realm. It has value because the game says it has value.

Then again, the same could be said for our real money. Currency by fiat. It has value because the government says it has to. It is essentially a make believe credit, and these fine folks were simply exchanging one virtual coin for another...

It isn't clear what the plaintiffs' damages could possibly be. I mean can a US District Court order restitution in the form of ogre pelts and Rings of Invulnerability?

Probably not.

So, the players will go back to playing and the gold farmers may or may not return to farming. Hopefully, someone will remember to pay their lawyer bill, and everything will be right in this world, and the other one.


  1. The first thing I check for when I see a new blog by you is whether or not anyone has commented on it yet. (Wow! That is a poorly written sentence. I wish there was a way to indicate that something should be read with an Indian accent. I think it works if you are speaking with a think Indian accent.)

    If no one has commented, I read it and then post something about my lunch with the Indonesian Secretary of Trade or the Chinese Consulate.

    If I see a few comments, I read the comments.

    If I see more then 12 comments, I go read Marmaduke.

  2. Nowadays it's even easier for those 5 minutes to stretch out into 4 hours... and still feel like 5 minutes!

    I had heard about the ingenuity of getting people to spend real money on virtual goods (e.g. Second Life), but hadn't heard about lawsuits. Doesn't surprise me, though, sadly enough.

    Maybe they should create ogre lawyer characters in the game ;-)

  3. Is reality so bad for these game players that they must spend endless hours fighting imaginary creatures and earning fake money?

    And why can't the lawyers leave the poor nerds alone. Why does everything have to become an opportunity to make money?

    Oh wait, I profit from pain too. Nevermind. I guess I'll go back to my Laker's games, NASCAR and Coors light beer.

    It's slow today, anyone need a tooth pulled?

  4. I wouldn't say it's so much that reality is "that bad" as it is "less fun". I used to spend all sorts of hours on social networking sites (not gaming, but it's still time wasted online) because it was easier for me to interact with people online than offline. I'm just that introverted, and I'm sure Brian, inog, SPAC, Lisa and Ev can attest to that.

    Of course, I draw the line at spending *real* money on *fake* goods...

  5. Juggs9:35 AM

    "Real money on fake goods"

    -Is that code for "breast implants?"

  6. Ogre lawyer9:36 AM

    I am redundant.

  7. Is that code for "breast implants?"

    Nope. Strap-ons.

    And yes, I know lawyers are ogres but at least they don't *look* like ogres. I... think.

  8. Anonymous10:08 AM

    Oh Helly's back? See ya.

  9. lack of surprise10:53 AM

    Oh goodie!! Helly is back. Now we can have 35 comments.

  10. marmaduke11:13 AM

    I'm glad SOMEONE reads me

  11. words blah blah meaningless dribble words crap no one will care about more words and a few more words.

  12. ok, flight is booked!!!

    Tell those strippers to get out the perfume, shine up the body piercings, touch up those tatoos, press the school girl outfit and wax their...well you know.

  13. Their backs. Clearly that's what Dr. B. is implying. He doesn't like a lady with a hairy back, and who can blame him, really?

  14. Hmm...Dr. B has his flight booked, looks like we just might all have a good time...we need a driver it could be a long drunken day.

  15. And leave Helly alone for christ's sake

  16. First, let me say that I have nothing bad to say about Helly...

    Second, I can attest to the odd temporal vortex creation that an Xbox can create - To paraphrase James T. Kirk: Days seem like hours, and hours seem like minutes.
    "Back in the old days" I do remember the games like Ultima, etc, the first computerized RPGS, which not only bent time and space, but had very very limited save-points. So, you HAD to play for hours, just to get to a place where you could save your progress.

    Kids today just don't know how easy they have it!

    As for digital ogre-lawyers: Don't let Brian fool you- He plays those games to see the animated girls in their digital wench dress or leather Leia-slave girl outfits.

  17. Mrs. G&T1:46 AM

    Jesus Christ, it's Fucking Late.

    Well, not by Mr. G&T's bikini-clad elf witch battle standards, but definitely by my standards. The Mr. has been in bed for over an hour already, after having debauched with a lurker. Here I am with my own gold mining operation in the family room trying to sell enough baby clothes for $1 a piece to quit my miserable job. I think that makes me more pathetic than the geeks who pay for fake gold in the real world, but not quite as pathetic as the geeks who pay real lawyers to stop other geeks from paying for fake gold in the real world.


Be compelling.

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