There has been some discussion out there on whether or not we own the items we get in game. Great debate on either side of the coin and I’m not too sure where I fall on it. So, I’ll cover my logic from both sides.
I Own It
Do I not own my glove when I play baseball? How about my clubs when I go and play 18 holes of golf? In every other game I play in real life, I own the equipment I use to play that game. Sure, MMOs are virtual…but I don’t buy the argument that the world stops becoming an escape once I own the stuff I get in game. Does Baseball stop becoming baseball because I own my own uniform? No. If I bring my own ball bowling, does the game of bowling suddenly become a game a checkers? No. If I own my own sword in WoW, does the game stop becoming virtual? Does is cease being an escape or fantasy? No. What it does….and let’s be honest here…it creates a legal pain in the ass for devs because suddenly it’s not a game for THEM anymore. For the players, it’ll always be a game….but if companies have to start thinking about property rights and whatnot, then it stops being the water-gun, crazy hair fun stuff that they’re use to (…see previous impressions on GDC 2008 “career fair”…).
How ownership of anything in a game break immersion in the gaming world? I just think that position is extremely weak.
I Don’t Own it
They build the world with their money. With their time, blood, sweat and tears…they put in the effort on every rock, tree and river that you see. If you put money into something, built it from the ground up…isn’t it yours? Hell yeah. These companies are building the worlds here, not the players. If you build a world then everything in that world is yours…not some punk who thinks that time spent in game equals rights to ownership.
MMOs are a service. You don’t own the phone line…you pay for the service to use the phone. Same thing with every other service that you pay a monthly fee for. You never really own those services…you’re just paying someone else to use it. That’s the model that they are using. Tell you what, call your gas company and tell them you own a component of the line just because you pay for the monthly fees and see how far you get.
Still undecided on this one. Maybe next year I’ll make up my mind when I own a gas company or two.