“Ownership of anything digital is illusory, and always will be.” – Raph Koster
Respectfully, I disagree and instead, assert this is the lynchpin of gaming economy that must be taken behind the toolshed, summarily shot, and buried.
This is also why I genuinely fear for the longevity and health of the MMO as capable of being anything more than a corporate environment for productivity or profit.
Ownership is not a convention, but a contractual agreement that observes and grants all parties VALUE OVER TIME for their part in it.
Possession is only 9/10ths of the law because theft is a thing, not due to the “intangible nature” as some manifest evidence of righteousness.
The current holder != the current owner != the legal owner != the rightful owner.
But this definitely IS the bit of sophistry and rhetoric that game companies nearly unanimously hold as sacrosanct.
Even Raph Koster, it seems.
But it is the WHY they do that should inform:
Because anything less would introduce the ultimate and visceral fear all corporations and creators hold – having to grant “vested” ownership by granting consumers/players VALUE OVER TIME. (Is it not fascinating how many want to deny you something they demand for themselves?)
The whole technical domain does this, but they are far from alone. Many industries can ONLY profit if/when they manage to put both their distributors and their market into secondary (or deeper) classes by requiring contractual agreement TO being set INTO that position as the ‘price of admission’.
Thus did we meet the EULA, the TOS, the EAC, and pretty much any other invasive or infringing ‘admission prices’. The very TRUST given is used to leverage one into secondary (or lower) legal classdom. The very TRUST given is used to assure legal protection FROM RECOURSE.
The advertising and marketing machine (nods to Raph and Playable Worlds pre-emptive efforts), naturally, is the herald of yet another inverted offering to an already mortally wounded market; one in which trust has gone from blind to calculated to controlled to comatose.
And then, then came the “indie” studios; wherein large publishers and known studios front and fund something that appears to be ‘independent’ because, that pesky market is refusing to give us their money!
I reject the assertion that ownership is EVER illusory because, at its birth, regardless context, all contracts hold that both offering and compensation are EQUAL… just as promises over time, when broken, are injurious, thus actionable.
In reality, mandatory binding arbitration (MBA) settled all of this (legally) when a judge ruled in Mythic Entertainment vs. Black Snow Interactive that the entire matter is mooted by the reality of MBA in that click-through agreement.
That’s right, the “Trust Us” document they use to regulate your access is the very same “Gotcha” document they use to deny you the rightful value of your TIME and INVESTMENT in their service offering by insisting you enter binding arbitration rather than a court of law.
(Which, conveniently, assures no pesky new precedents can be made that might require them to carry forward parity of value, rather than steal it from you walking in the door.)
It’s strange, really… gaming is one of the few industries in which it is assumed that this disparity between providers and players is “as it should be”.
The rest of Koster’s article is poetically mooted.
No, Raph, OWNERSHIP IS NOT ILLUSORY. There are millions of patents on file in support of a reality you seem to want your market to hand over without quibble or question.
If ownership is only real when YOU are the owner, you’re talking about another thing entirely… a DOUBLE STANDARD.
Veblen Goods. That is precisely what game collectibles are; exactly those pretty, limited edition, one and gone pixel vanity and/or progression items. The value is status, collectability (particularly in an environment where some are non-tradeable), but most importantly? The value of the experience itself; both in the story crafter in the player’s head as well as the story as analyzed by the latest assistive general artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms.
Capturing the value for what it is on both ends of the economic scale? THAT is the innovation. NFTs won’t be it. Full-Circle, Holistic Universes in which behavioral economics are the mechanics and the game is navigating the self-governed systems of cooperative, collaborative community to explore and select your place.
The value of those experiences over time? By segment if you’re finicky.
The value of the collections and the stories attached to each item? By the motivational grid, it’ll give you clarity.
Who owns the player experience? The players. Always, and in all ways.
Give players the rightful valuation of their own lifetime value.
Give players the rightful ownership of their own time invested and its value impact upon the larger (revenue) goals of your offering.
When you build for self-governance and reward in accord with it, the community builds itself.
Even when you, yourself, have long sailed off in a pretty, golden, limited-edition parachute. (grin)
Veblen Goods. There’s your innovation. And revolution. I mean… why not both?
SWG as an ideal and idea has never been more doable. Go get the script from your documentary on how you originally wanted to build it. You still talked about it as if an impossibility.
It has literally NEVER been more possible.