The emerging law of online games and virtual currencies

Two recent media articles highlight the growing importance of laws that regulate online gaming and the virtual currencies that have sprung up around them.

The ABC’s World Today looked at the difficulty in creating laws that are able to reflect the ‘virtual property rights’ that have arisen in the hugely popular gaming industry. A UK court has found that virtual goods purchased by virtual currency are ‘property’ capable of being stolen, despite the terms and conditions of the game in which they were ‘purchased’ saying that they are not property. This inevitably will lead to tension between laws designed to protect consumers and contracts between game developers and consumers.

Lawyers are rising to the challenge, with FastCompany reporting that ‘video game lawyers’ in the United States deal with virtual currency issues on a daily basis. The article discusses the importance of gaming law, with guidelines set by the United States Federal Trade Commission being closely linked to ‘gamification’ in an attempt to regulate the industry.