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Type: Journal article
Title: The Duty To 'Play': Ethics, EULAs and MMOs
Author: de Zwart, M.
Reynolds, R.
Citation: International Journal of Internet Research Ethics, 2010; 3(12):48-68
Publisher: International Journal of Internest Research Ethics
Issue Date: 2010
ISSN: 1936-492X
Statement of
Ren Reynolds and Melissa de Zwart
Abstract: In the last ten years, there has been a steady increase in the attention paid to Massively Multiplayer Online Role Play Games (MMOs) as a site of academic research. A number of large and influential academic studies have been undertaken in a range of disciplines inside MMOs such as EverQuest (Taylor, 2006), Star Wars Galaxies (Ducheneaut & Moore, 2004), Lineage I and II (Steinkeuhler, 2004) and EverQuestII (Castronova et al, 2009). Generally, these studies require the researcher to be embedded in-world, participating as a player in the game. In this paper, we ask: what bounds on research, if any, are ostensibly set by the contractual terms of service of MMOs by which all participants are bound—in particular the duty to "play"; whether this has any problematic bearing on the practice of research; and, if so, whether there are solutions to these problems? This paper will consider the contractual terms used in the End User Licence Agreements (EULAs) of two MMOs, EvE Online and City of Heroes, in order to further explore the practical implications of those terms. This paper concludes that researchers need to consider whether their research is ethical, both in terms of formal compliance with Institutional Research Board (IRB) requirements and how it may impact upon or disrupt the player community. If it does have a disruptive impact, this may take the research not only outside the notion of ethical research, but also outside of the concept of "play" authorised by the EULA itself.
Rights: © Copyright Ren Reynolds and Melissa de Zwart.
RMID: 0020106012
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Appears in Collections:Law publications

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