Code Rules Poster Oswc Xv 2


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Given the set of problems and puzzles we have been observing in virtual worlds, and the themes that weave them together, we have begun to sketch out a conceptual and theoretical framework to better understand virtual worlds and their evolution. The starting point, we argue, is to see the story of virtual worlds as one of field flux and evolution. This puts our efforts in line with institutional and organization theory, especially Davis and Marquis’ recent suggestion that problem-driven research should be like a natural history of the institutions of capitalism. We also are adopting their suggestion of using mechanisms as a way to evade some problems with black box theorizing about the ways in which actors and codes at different levels interact to account for particular organizational and field level outcomes. Hence, we are using familiar concepts about fields and the “pillars” of institutional theory- the rules, laws, and codes that enable and constrain actors. However, we are adding a newer (or at least more recently rediscovered) tool from the org theory tool kit: mechanisms. Finally, we are doing this for a domain that poses some idiosyncratic issues.

Virtual worlds are an emerging field within a wider field (cyberspace) that is already in flux; moreover, we are dealing with organizations that can only be understood as constellations of worlds-within-worlds due to their constituent complexity. The internal complexity of the VWs has made them quite literally worlds within worlds. Crucially, these are not hermetically sealed terrariums. The flow of people, information, money, and digital objects is an essential feature of the worlds within worlds quality of VWs.

In this paper, we will describe a set of concepts that together make a framework for adequately describing virtual worlds in terms of institutional theory and evolution. This framework leads to proposing two critical co-evolutionary dynamics that will drive the worlds and their field. We will discuss what adaptation and adaptive capability means in this situation with coevolutionary dynamics in an emerging and turbulent field. Using grounded theory and a variety of qualitative data sources has brought us to this point. We will discuss a few preliminary case studies and what they real about adaptation for virtual worlds.

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Code Rules Poster Oswc Xv 2

  1. 1. Code Rules: Virtual World Adaptation in Co-evolutionary Environment <ul><li>What is a Virtual World ? An Organization </li></ul><ul><li>Instead of a “nexus of contracts” we suggest it is a nexus of actors and codes. </li></ul><ul><li>Actors: Operate at three levels </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Player/User (micrological) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>World social complexity (mesological) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Field of Virtual worlds (macrological) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Codes: “Lex Informatica” 5 and much more </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Law Studies and Institutional Theory converge: it is about rules. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In VWs, we have code as software and the worlds-within-worlds of three levels of actors. </li></ul></ul>Offering a “natural history of the changing institutions of contemporary capitalism” 1 Vignette 2- Death of TSO Vignette 1- Rise and Fall of I-Banks in SL Vignette 3- Player communities migrating from world to world <ul><li>Adaptation is outcome of 2 co-evolutionary dynamics above. </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual world- field. Adaptive capacities will be robust designs, institutional entrepreneurship. </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual world-communities of practice. Adaptive capacities will be negotiating with users and communities of users. </li></ul><ul><li>Why Study Virtual Worlds? </li></ul><ul><li>20-30 million unique users 2 </li></ul><ul><li>$580 million Invested in 63 Virtual Worlds-Related Companies in 2008 3 </li></ul><ul><li>80% of Internet Users will have virtual world presence by 2011 (maybe) 4 </li></ul><ul><li>Possible essential form of future of Internet and cyberspace. </li></ul><ul><li>Three experiences powered by technological factors define a virtual world: </li></ul><ul><li>Immersion in a persistent world </li></ul><ul><li>Interactivity with other users and the world </li></ul><ul><li>Identity coupling is variable between the real self and the constructed virtual self. </li></ul>Jordi Comas, Bucknell University and F. Ted Tschang, Singapore Management University, OSWC XV, February 2009 1 Davis, G. F., Marquis, C. (2005). “Prospects for Organization Theory in the Early Twenty-First Century: Institutional Fields and Mechanisms”, Organization Science , 16(4): 332-343; 2 Castronova, E. 2007. Exodus to the virtual world : How online fun is changing reality (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan; 3 Virtual World News. Feb 2, 2009. “Over $580 Million Invested in 41 Virtual Goods-Related Businesses in 2008” ; 4 Gartner Research. April 2007. “Gartner Says 80 Percent of Active Internet Users Will Have A &quot;Second Life&quot; in the Virtual World by the End of 2011.” ; 5 Lessig, L. (2006). Code Version 2.0 , Basic Books. What is a Virtual World? A Technology Habitat 1986 Cybertown 1993 2003 Second Life 2003 <ul><li>Examples from Case Studies [Co-Evolutionary Dynamic] </li></ul><ul><li>Linden Lab’s Second Life implements land-based economy and unique IP regime. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Codes for enormous increase in creative activity and blended space [1, 2] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Sims Online opens and closes and… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The firm was unwilling to enable user-generated content [2]. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design of the economy stifled growth [1] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>EA pursued “a safe” label to attract teens. [1] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uru live players migrate off of the closed game and reform enclaves in other VWs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Durability of player codes and communities across worlds </li></ul></ul>Identity Coupling Immersion Sense of others (Co-presence) Sense of Place (Geography) Sense of Body (Avatar) Real Constructed Promotes Facilitates Playing Socializing Collaborating Transacting Mediates What type of interoperablity? Coded for Play or for Commerce? Everquest 1999 World of Warcraft 2004