Edited by Christoph Beat Graber and Mira Burri-Nenova
As the economic value of digital game environments grows, now easily exceeding the gross domestic product of some middle-sized countries, and as their intertwining into cultural and societal activities progresses, so the interest of policymakers, academia and the wider public intensifies. Yet, although digital games and virtual worlds have gained prominence as a topic in academic scholarship in the past few years, we are still far from a comprehensive understanding of their nature, dynamics and impact. This is a shortcoming, which is particularly distracting when translated into current lawand policymaking. In fact, many of today’s regulatory interventions merely transplant models from conventional media regulation and reveal that policy- and rulemakers are at a loss when approaching these novel digital spaces. While an invaluable and sizeable amount of knowledge on digital games and virtual worlds has already been gathered and is continuously being enriched in the fields of media, communications and cultural studies, as well as in sociology and psychology, very little of it has flowed into legal analyses. The profound understanding of the complex phenomena and processes occurring in-play, such as avatar representation, role-playing, community and reputation building, incentives and dynamics of play, individual and group creativity, has found no (or insufficient) reflection in the design of regulatory intervention. Very interestingly, this occurs precisely at a time when we are observing an expansion of regulatory efforts at national, regional and international levels that have a serious impact upon game environments and their evolution as a medium of creative play and...