Allen on Law’s Virtual Empires: Game Analogies and the Concept of Law

Jason G. Allen, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Großbritannien-Zentrum; CCAF; University of Tasmania School of Law, is publishing Law’s Virtual Empires: Game Analogies and the Concept of Law in Conceptual Jurisprudence – Methodological Issues, Conceptual Tools and New Approaches (Jorge Luis Fabra-Zamora and Gonzalo Villa Rosas, eds., Springer, forthcoming) (Law and Philosophy Library).

Here is the abstract.

Legal theorists are increasingly called upon to engage with the legal implications of technologically-mediated social practices, from the interpretation of self-executing ‘smart contracts’ to the ownership of ‘crypto-assets’ to determining the situs of cyber-crime for the purpose of jurisdiction. How well equipped is contemporary legal theory to do this? What avenues suggest themselves for exploring the concept of law in the ‘Information Age’? And what might an exploration of law in new technical contexts to do increase our understanding of the concept of law generally? In this Chapter, I explore the future development of a well-worn tool in the elucidation of the concept of law: the analogy between law and games. In particular, I explore how the analogy might be extended in the context of complex, modern games that take place in a virtual environment: Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (‘MMORPGs’). Are these games jurisprudentially interesting, in the sense of shedding light on the concept of law? Or is nothing to be gained from them that cannot be taken from analogies with games like chess and baseball? I first trace out the traditional uses of the games analogy, and then I suggest some ways in which analogies between law and MMORPGs might be helpful. These include providing fresh insight answers into long-standing jurisprudential questions and posing new questions for jurisprudential enquiry.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.