Just got a message from some of the organizers of the conference "State of Play IV" scheduled for January 7-9, 2007 in Singapore that they are in dire need of additional sponsors for the event. Organized by Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, New York Law School, Trinity University, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, this global conference on virtual worlds brings together a multi-disciplinary group of experts to "discuss the future of cyberspace and the impact
of these new immersive, social online environments on education, law,
politics and society." Check out the complete appeal on the Terra Nova blog.
I haven’t been able to attend yet, but I’ve heard from others who have gone that it’s the place for high-level, multi-disciplinary discussion about the societal and political impacts of gaming and virtual worlds. Just coming from a UN-sponsored conference on ICT policy issues, I have to say that this is very cutting edge stuff, not on the radar of even the august group of "experts" who were in Athens last week. Every topic on the SOPIV program looks fascinating.
If you can help, contact Dr. Aaron Delwiche at +1 (210) 347-6888 or
There’s quite a debate going on in Terra Nova about what to make of this appeal, and whether it’s worthy of investing energy and money to make this happen. Here’s my take on why this conference matters…
I hate to be in the position of supporting the holding of yet another academic conference. But I think that there is a strong argument to be made for the importance of a multi-national , multi-discplinary dialogue on the impact of virtual worlds and gaming on society and politics.
Much of the online gaming world happens within particular national, linguistic and cultural milieu. I suspect that there is a low level of knowledge about the larger global impacts of these environments. I.e. for education, youth culture, content regulation, broadband penetration, intellectual property, etc.
Holding convenings like these are often necessary to start up international discussions and collaborative projects that can target the most necessary research both for policy-making and academic field development. The Joi Ito’s and the Julian Dibbel’s don’t need any help. But for newcomers wanting to work in this space — graduate students, junior faculty, non-affiliated researchers, etc — having a place to get more legitimacy for your research interests is critical to your professional future.
Finally, moving the discussion beyond the United States and Europe is an important step in recognizing that much of the most innovative phenomena is happening in the East. For American academics who plan their next journal article on what’s happening in WOW or Second Life, this is an important wake-up call.
I do hope that the SOP organizers succeed in their plans to hold this important gathering.