- - Geography

UK Consumer Protection & games

In July 2009 the UK’s department of Business Innovations and Skills (BIS) issued a White Paper titled: A Better Deal for Consumers – Delivering Real Help and and Change for the Future. While this paper was introduced by the previous UK administration the current coalition administration has not indicated any willingness to halt the modernisation of consumer protection .

In light of this tVPNs wishes to draw attention to Chapter 4 of the White Paper: Modernising Consumer Law, which deals with ‘new “digital” products’ and explicitly mentions computer games. the Virtual Policy Network suggests that the online games industry and other online industries consider their positions in respect products and services as a whole and elements such as digital download, episodic updates, digital artifacts and digitally currency in the light of the principles outlined in the paper.

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DISE:10 Games, Media Law

DISE:10 Games, Media Law

Digital Interactive Symposium: Edinburgh

27 August 2010 (10:00 – 16:00)

John McIntyre Conference Centre, Pollock Halls, the University of Edinburgh.


The Digital Interactive Symposium: Edinburgh (DIS:E) is an annual event organized by the Virtual Policy Network in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh.

The Digital Interactive Symposium: Edinburgh 2010 focuses on the legal issues of computer games, virtual worlds and the issues that arise from the convergence of new and traditional media. Speakers include both academics and practicing lawyers.

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Net Neutrality consultations: EU and UK

A number of bodies around the world are conducting various forms of action in respect of so-called Network Neutrality. While the United States’ FCC (Federal Communications Commission) public consultation phase (see FCC News Release) has just closed the EU and UK are currently in consultation phases that end in September 2010.

the Virtual Policy Network encourages the online games, social media, location based and augmented reality industries, interested academics and policy makers to respond to these request for comments.

Specifically tVPN draws actors’ attention to some of the unique aspects of these technologies that might not be highlighted from the digital elements of traditional media industries. Such specific may include:

  • Importance of ping times to some types of gaming
  • Equal access a range data sources in populating augmented reality layers

Further details on the European consultations, including background documents, consultation question, reply dates and response details follow.

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Virtual Worlds under the Americans with Disabilities Act

On the 8th of February 2010 Judge Percy Anderson of the United States District Central Court of California ruled in the case of Alexander Stern v. Sony Corp., et al (CV 09-7710 PA (FFMx)).

In summary Judge Anderson ruled that the American’s with Disabilities Act does not oblige Sony’s to facility access to their MMO EverQuest for those with Disabilities and specifically Sony does not have to provide any “auxiliary aids and services” to facilitate such access.

The case turned on whether EverQuest constituted a “place of public accommodation” as the American’s with Disabilities act only obliges access to such places, as the ruling states:

“Title III of the ADA prevents discrimination against the disabled in places of public accommodation:
No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to) or operates a place of public accommodation.”

The ruling notes that courts have established that this Title III applies only to certain physical spaces i.e. ‘bricks and mortar’; or to services that have some close link.

The case of access to Target.com (Nat’l Fed’n of the Blind v. Target Corp., 452 F. Supp. 2d 946, 951 (N.D. Cal. 2006)) was reference in the ruling but it was noted that this case fell under the act as there was a strong link between the services offred on the site and those in stores such that not having access to the web site could be seen as impeding access to some ‘goods, services […]’.

tVPN Links

External Links

American’s with Disabilities Act 42 U.S.C. § 12101

DotGovLabs: Games & Government Workshops

DotGovLabs is an R&D project co-funded by Directgov, NHS Choices and Business Link have commissioned tVPN to run a series of workshops. The aims of the workshop are to gather feedback on how the UK Government should (and should not) use games to interact with citizens, businesses and other stakeholder groups.

The feedback from the workshop will feed into a government report that will support future funding decisions. Workshop attendees include: games developers, academics and officials from the three sites, and the Technology Strategy Board.

The spirit of the workshops is to share ideas and steer government thinking in ways that will benefit the UK and use tax money wisely.

Topics covered are likely to include:
• Opportunities for presence in platform menus/dashboards
• How can we get government in the space where gamers are?
• Partnerships and placement with 3rd parties
• Online communities
• Being involved in storyline
• Likely costs

London evening workshop

2nd March 18:30 – 20:30
Event supported by London South Bank University’s BA in Game Cultures, and held at London South Bank University and facilitated by Feeding Edge.

London South Bank UniversityFaculty of Arts & Human Sciences

London day workshop

3rd March 14:00 – 16:00
Event supported by and held at London Knowledge Lab (just off Theobald’s Road) and facilitated by Feeding Edge.

LKL Logo. Click to return to homepage.

Brighton workshop

Details TBD

Scotland workshop

Details TBD

For more information and to request a place email info [at] virtualpolicy [dot] net.

tVPN supports UK’s DotGovLabs R&D project


tVPN is supporting the UK’s DotGovLabs with it’s engagement with academics and the games industry as part of the ‘Games’ R&D project.

DotGovLabs is “is a shared R&D programme backed by Directgov, Businesslink.gov (including the RDA face-to-face arm of Businesslink) and NHS Choices. DotGovLabs looks to identify, explore and test areas of innovation to determine what benefits they could offer to provide better services to businesses, patients and citizens.”

The Games project is summaries as ” This DotGovLabs project is exploring whether there are any opportunities, in the games medium, that the government could be exploiting. The remit is wider than just building games in that the project is looking to gain input from industry experts into all elements of this medium. For example can the technologies of games (in terms of how it visualises context through computer graphics or virtual worlds) be exploited outside of a games scenario to allow us to communicate particular concepts better? Are there opportunities around gaming platforms to access different users groups?”

Internet Governance – A Brief Timeline

In this context the term ‘Internet Governance’ or IG as it is often termed denotes the on-going global discussion about how various aspects of the internet should be run and buy whom. There is no agreed scope of Internet Governance. Narrow interpretations suggest that it is confined to matters such as IP addresses, whereas wide interpretations suggest it should be a multi-stakeholder process and encompasses issues such as free speech and other Human Rights.

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UN IGF: Public Diplomacy in the Digital Age

The UK Government’s Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has proposed a workshop on virtual worlds and public diplomacy to be held as part of the 2009 United Nations’ Internet Governance Forum meeting being held between 15 and 18 of November 2009 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Wednesday 18th (Day 4) 15:30 – 17:00 Room 9 – Siwa Room.

tVPN / UK Government 2009 IGF workshop on virtual worlds – Official Workshop Summary (.pdf)(.doc)

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Tax breaks, Game Ratings & the UK Game Dev

24 September 2009 LSE: tVPN in conjunction with the IGDA (Independent Game Developers Association) hosted a policy evening at the London School of Economics.

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UN IGF 2008 Workshop Proposal: Virtual Worlds for Delivering Public Service & Innovation

For the 2008 UN Internet Governance Forum meeting in Hyderabad India the UK Government proposed the workshop detailed here. The workshop did not occur due to the disturbances in India at the time.

The official workshop proposal can be found in the IGF site here: http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/workshops_08/showmelist.php?mem=46

A summary of the workshop is as follows:

The workshop will showcase Virtual Worlds as a way of providing an innovative and effective way of delivering public services, engaging with citizens and society, inclusively discussing the fact that there may be a number of possible legal/investment barriers to the achievement of the benefits of Virtual Worlds. The aim will be to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices, making full use of the academic, scientific and technical communities; showing how stakeholders have helped to find solutions and have used virtual worlds as an effective way of delivering public services.

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