So, I just finished the first draft of my article on peer surveillance in virtual worlds. The draft is available here. This will be a chapter in the current book I am working on, Grief Play: The Art of Disruption in Virtual Worlds. Feedback welcome. Abstract:
When the Inmates Run the Asylum:
Grief Play in the Virtual Panopticon of Second Life
In this article I sketch out how governance is negotiated through grief play in virtual worlds particularly when peer surveillance is involved. Characterizing virtual worlds as having legal pluralism determined by different stakeholders whose interests may or may not align, I argue that surveillance exists in a decentralized form which leads to the establishment of data powerhouses at the hands of unauthorized persons or groups. Using Second Life as an example, I demonstrate how these practices result in power asymmetries and abuses that allow player groups to gather intelligence for the purpose of gaining power in-world, thereby exacerbating conflict among player groups. It is in this political climate that griefing in Second Life developed from a set of practices including irreverent language and dicey pranks into a tactic used to negotiate power.