[Talk date: 14 January 2015] Playing God(s): Virtual World Creation, Online Spirituality and the Law

Crag Seminar

14 January 2015: Lecture Theatre G.03 – 5.30 pm

A talk by:
Burkhard Schafer
Professor of Computational Legal Theory
Director, SCRIPT Centre for IT and IP University of Edinburgh
School of Law

Entire session sound capture:


The creation of virtual worlds such as the popular MMOPRGs is sometimes trivialised as a mere pastime, game playing that is explicitly juxtaposed with “serious” or “real” activity. So when the Snowden leaks also revealed that security services had been systematically infiltrating virtual gaming environments, public reaction was minimal. Surveillance of virtual worlds however, when looked at through the lenses of data protection law, raises interesting conceptual issues about identity, personality and the way we relate to our creations and creative outputs. In previous works, we analysed the legal concept of “personal information” in online game at the intersection between law and the psychological and anthropological analysis of game playing. Central to the discussion became the notion of “world creator” that balances homo ludens and homo faber. This notion also evokes concepts traditionally confined to theological discourse. This talk then build on these past studies to analyse a particular type of personal information, information about religious beliefs, within the context of online games. We look at the broad spectrum of online spirituality, from traditional religions using the online medium to “born digital” religions to deities and religions that only ever exist within virtual gaming environments, and ask what legal issues they raise – to what extend does the law care about, or even protect, the creation of creators?

crag-session-14 january 2015

crag-session-14 january 2015-2

Feedback of the session:

Lecture Theatre
42 people were present
We gathered 15 feedback sheets (because we only printed 17).

Most of the attendees were students
20% approx. were professionals from outside the university
10% were faculty professors

1. How did they learn about this session?

Most of them through a referral, some of them through Facebook or our newsletter

2. What is the main reason for attending this Crag session?

Content and personal interest or growth, for most of them,

3. What is the interesting idea, heard this evening, that you might remember tomorrow?

Several quote the Kopimism philosophy, this online spirituality that stances that everything is a copy of a copy.
Others quote the idea that we are more ourselves when at play rather than ‘in reality’ (play as truth)

4. Did this Crag session fulfil the reason for attending?

Half of them answered: Yes — Absolutely

Half of them answered: Yes — But not to my full extent

5. What was the most beneficial aspect of the session? What did you think of the talk and the speaker?

The speaker was appreciated for his humour, interesting and engaging content. The lecture was considered good overall. The pacing was judged a bit too fast in the end.

6. Would they recommend the Crag seminar to others?

A majority answered Yes.
The rest answered may be.

7. Please indicate your overall satisfaction with this Crag Session

Half wrote that they were very satisfied, the other half somewhat satisfied.

8. Which of the following topics would they be interested in?


Social creation




Effectively changing the world



Group agency and distributed cognition


Posted in Crag seminar, News and Events.

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