Game security news and analysis site PlayNoEvil recently looked at the concept of ownership in the virtual space, in an article called "The Quixotic Quest for Avatar Rights." It explores the question that's been around since the very beginning of virtual interactions: Does the player who invests his or her time into finding, creating, and using an item 'own' it, or is it really just server data that's company property?
For most game and virtual world operations, there's little room for debate. They create the environment and everything in it, right down to a gamer's or user's avatar. However one view expressed at an Austin GDC panel is that while companies work to ensure their legal claim to virtual property, they also foster the illusion that the player has some degree of ownership. While the mindset of the industry isn't likely to change any time soon, there are those involved on the development and business end that would like to see changes regarding 'avatar rights.' Others are pushing for an improved EULA which would ensure the continued growth of virtual worlds, where users have greater control over their own created content. What's your view on this? Do companies have any responsibility to their subscribers or users to relinquish control over player-created content? Are gamers and virtual worlds users unreasonable in thinking the situation should change?