Obfuscatocracy: A stakeholder analysis of governing documents for virtual worlds

Justin M. Grimes, Paul T. Jaeger, Kenneth R. Fleischmann


Virtual worlds are governed not only by the source code used to develop the world, but also by civil code documents that establish a governance structure that constrains the interactions of users of the virtual world and regulates relationships among stakeholders of the virtual world. While previous research has examined specific aspects of these documents, this paper analyzes these governing documents as a totality. By examining the totality of and the interplay among the governing documents of a number of established social worlds, this paper seeks to discover insights that can prove valuable both for scholarly understanding of social world governance and for the various stakeholders of social worlds. Following this analysis, the paper offers a set of policy recommendations and considerations to facilitate the development of governing documents that more democratically and equally serve the needs and rights of all stakeholders in virtual worlds. The paper concludes that virtual worlds and their governing documents are boundary objects with agency, in that they are the result of interactions among stakeholder groups and in turn reshape the relationships among those stakeholder groups.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v13i9.2153

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