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Report of the Law Reform Committee on Online Gaming and Singapore

but as another type of life experience.43 The non-MMORPG virtual worlds are usually free form without storylines and players can create anything their imagination fancies. Examples of such virtual worlds would include “Second Life”, “There.com” and the Chinese virtual world “HiPiHi”. 44 45

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MMORPGs are scripted games of skills with a beginner avatar having little

weaponry and little skills. As the avatar progresses up the levels, the avatar will acquire skills, status and weaponry.46 This is often achieved as a member of a guild as many quests in MMORPGs cannot be executed alone.47 As an avatar kills monsters and executes successful raids, the avatar may acquire inventory which are valuable within the game. These can and often are sold on auction sites like eBay for real world money.48 The money made from such sales cannot be considered “winnings” from gambling as there is very little element of chance. An avatar acquires inventory based almost entirely on labour, skills and strategies.49 Gambling per se is not part of the

structure of MMORPGs.

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Virtual worlds that are not MMORPGs and are not scripted are more likely to

present gambling issues. A player may for example create a virtual casino in such a virtual world. When this happened in “Second Life” which is run by Linden Lab, a US company on servers based in the US, the US Department of Justice stepped in and the gambling operations in “Second Life” were closed down. In essence however, gambling operations within virtual worlds do not present any new issue to be dealt with. After all, virtual worlds are run on the Internet and they can and should be treated just like any form of Internet-based gambling. The more pertinent issue is what sort of gambling activities they offer. There is really no difference if BoysTown Australia is selling its lotteries from its own website or from within its own virtual building within “Second Life”, save for the possible jurisdictional issue of where the server is located which may determine the applicability of a country’s laws that it will have to answer

43

Hannah Yee Fen Lim, “Who Monitors the Monitor? Virtual World Governance and the Failure of Contract Law Remedies in Virtual Worlds” (2009) 11 Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law 1053.

44

Hannah Yee Fen Lim, “Who Monitors the Monitor? Virtual World Governance and the Failure of Contract Law Remedies in Virtual Worlds” (2009) 11 Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law 1053.

45

Hannah Yee Fen Lim, “Who Monitors the Monitor? Virtual World Governance and the Failure of Contract Law Remedies in Virtual Worlds” (2009) 11 Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law 1053 at 1054–1057.

46

Yee Fen Lim, “Is It Really Just a Game? Copyright and Online Role-Playing Games” (2006) 1 Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice 481.

47

Yee Fen Lim, “Is It Really Just a Game? Copyright and Online Role-Playing Games” (2006) 1 Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice 481.

48

Yee Fen Lim, “Is It Really Just a Game? Copyright and Online Role-Playing Games” (2006) 1 Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice 481.

49

Yee Fen Lim, “Is It Really Just a Game? Copyright and Online Role-Playing Games” (2006) 1 Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice 481 at 483–488. See also, Yee Fen Lim, Cyberspace Law: Commentaries and Materials (Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 2nd Ed, 2007) at pp 674–678.

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