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Protecting Virtual Playgrounds: Children, Law, and Play Online

On Friday, October 3, the Washington and Lee School of Law hosted a symposium that addressed the emergence of virtual worlds built specifically for children and the opportunities and challenges those environments pose for society and the law.

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W&L Audio:
How Parents can Connect with their Children in Virtual Worlds
Prof. Joshua Fairfield

This symposium gathered the top academic psychologists, economists, and lawyers to discuss the future of children's worlds.

Symposium Presentations

Panel One - Child's Play: The Value of Play in Child-Oriented Virtual Worlds
  Video     Audio

The concept of "play" has been central to the development of virtual worlds. Nowhere is this value more important than in child-centered worlds. This panel will discuss the value of "play," most commonly articulated as a right exercised by virtual world denizens. Children play for some of the same, and many different reasons, as adults. This panel will gather the foremost experts on the concept of play and the legal connections between play and law, to discuss why play is important, and how play plugs into the law. Moderator: Joshua Fairfield; Panelists: Dorothy Singer, Greg Lastowka, Robin Wilson

Keynote Address - Edward Castronova
  Video     Audio

Edward Castronova (PhD, Economics, Wisconsin, 1991) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the father of economic analysis of virtual worlds and has numerous publications on that topic, including Synthetic Worlds and Exodus to the Virtual World.

Panel Two - Regulatory Approaches to Children's Worlds
  Video     Audio

This panel will examine the latest social science research on the effects of videogames on children, and then will ask how virtual worlds differ from standard games. Further, this panel will examine the choices that other countries—notably, the E.U.—have made in dealing with videogames regulation. Moderator: Robin Wilson; Panelists: Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, Brad Bushman, Kaveri Subrahmanyam

Panel Three - Child.com: Regulation and Economics of Child-Friendly Worlds
  Video     Audio

Child-oriented virtual worlds are among the most successful up-and-coming virtual businesses. But the commercialization of child-oriented virtual worlds raises many questions. What will the costs of a regulatory approach be? How should personal data be protected? What are the limits of advertising and data-mining in child-oriented worlds? Are End User License Agreements even enforceable against minors? Moderator: Joan Shaughnessy; Panelists: Robert Bloomfield, Joshua Fairfield, John Zuur Platten


Speaker Details

Robert Bloomfield, Professor of Management, Cornell University, The Johnson School. Moderator of the Metanomics series on virtual world economics.
Brad Bushman, Research Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan. Author of groundbreaking studies on effects of videogame violence on children.
Edward Castronova, Professor of Telecommunications, University of Indiana. Father of economic analysis of virtual worlds and author of Synthetic Worlds and Exodus to the Virtual World.
Joshua Fairfield, Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law. Author of foundational articles on virtual property and the regulation of virtual worlds through contract regimes.
Greg Lastowka, Associate Professor of Law, Rutgers School of Law – Camden. Author (with Dan Hunter) of seminal law articles on virtual worlds.
John Zuur Platten, Award winning video game director/ writer/designer/producer. Recent projects include Fantastic Four, Transformers, The Chronicles of Riddick, Space Chimps, Scooby-Doo: Unmasked, Teen Titans, Constantine and Avatar. Current projects include: Wanted, Ghostbusters, Project: Origin, Dark Athena, Wheelman and Sin City.
Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard University, The Kennedy School. Internationally sought expert on e-Government, regulatory models for electronic commerce, and virtual worlds.
Joan Shaughnessy, Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University.
Dorothy Singer, Senior Research Scientist Emeritus, Psychology, Yale University. World renowned expert on children, play, and the psychological effects of media.
Kaveri Subrahmanyam, Professor of Psychology, California State University—Los Angeles. Expert on effects of computer use on children; girls and games; and online communication among adolescents.
Robin Fretwell Wilson, Law Alumni Faculty Fellow and Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law; co-editor of Handbook of Children, Culture, & Violence (with Dorothy Singer).