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Virtual worlds players – consumers or citizens?

2014-13-coverCREATe Working Paper 2014/13

Edina Harbinja (2014)


This article questions the preconceived notions that participants in virtual worlds are essentially consumers. Building on the existing scholarship around virtual worlds and notwithstanding the current character of virtual worlds, this paper explores aspects of End User Licence Agreements and notes the unfairness of their provisions, particularly the imbalance between user and developer interests governed by such contracts. It argues that the contracts cannot be regulated with consumer protection legislation, as interests such as property or intellectual property are beyond the scope of consumer protection regimes. Finally, recognising the phenomenon of constitutionalisation of virtual worlds, the article argues for stronger regulatory solutions in this domain, in order to strike a more appropriate balance between competing interests in virtual worlds.

Keywords: Virtual worldsEnd User Licence AgreementsConsumer protectionMulti-User Dungeon (MUD)Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMOPG)Terms of service,Virtual asset
Citation details: Harbinja, E. (2014). Virtual worlds players – consumers or citizens?. Internet Policy Review, 3(4). DOI: 10.14763/2014.4.329

This paper is freely available from Internet Policy Review.