Highlights of Reason's Video Game Coverage Over the Years

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Virtual worlds have caused plenty of real-world anxiety, hysteria, and good, old-fashioned fun.

, J.D. Tuccille, Meredith Bragg & Nick Gillespie May 7, 2014

Even back when video games still meant a pocket full of quarters and a huge console in the local pizza parlor, Reason writers found the new technology, the entertainment it offered, and the possibilities it presented to be intriguing. Since we began covering the topic, the virtual world of video gaming has involved real-world issues, including new means to communicate and build communities. It has also come under attack from critics, moral crusaders, and legislators, who brought with them regulatory efforts and assaults on private behavior and free expression.

The potential and the controversy show no signs of diminishing any time soon. Here's a short tour of highlights from our past coverage of video games.

"38 Studios: Curt Schilling's Crony Capitalism Debacle," Reason TV, January 3, 2013.

This video exposes the waste of taxpayer money forked over by Rhode Island officials in a desperate—and plainly idiotic—attempt to lure a video game company to the Ocean State because it was fronted by a legendary baseball player and local hero.

Papers, PleasePapers, Please"Papers, Please: Politics in Games, and the Growth of Indie Development," Reason.com, September 26, 2013. 

 A video game about properly checking immigration paperwork sounds like the worst possible idea, like a propaganda effort from an oppressive communist nation. But when independent game developer Lucas Pope created

Papers, Please he embraced the concept, putting the players in a fictional, oppressive Eastern European country in the 1980s and putting them to work stamping passports. The game turned out to be a critical darling and more successful than Pope expected. Reason’s Scott Shackford interviewed Pope about the growth of the indie game industry and about incorporating political concepts into video games.

Second Life billboardSecond Life"Virtually Free: An Online World Embraces Regulation," Reason magazine, February 2008.

Six years ago, subscribers to the virtual world of Second Life awoke to a surprise: The garish, skyscraper-sized billboards they had learned to tolerate as part of their three-dimensional landscape were about to be vaporized, the site’s creators announced. Linden Lab, the company that developed and owns Second Life, announced on its blog a new rule prohibiting advertising on Second Life’s mainland continents if it impairs a neighbor’s view.

This was only the latest step in a series of moves away from the virtual world's laissez-faire origins.

The Lindens might not have ended Second Life's libertarian era as much as created a gated community in a far larger metaverse that remains fundamentally free, wrote Wagner James Au, the author of a book about the one-time Internet phenomenon. Then again, gated communities may be libertarian on paper, but considering all the conformist regulations required to get and stay in one, few would say they are libertarian in spirit.

"Second Life: A Virtual Frontier," Reason TV, September 10, 2008.

TV legend, avid gamer, and Reason TV creator Drew Carey takes you on a guided tour of Second Life, arguably the most-realized online world yet developed. Be warned: This is not your parents' Leisure Suit Larry but a world in which anything can happen (and pretty much does).

Zenon Evans is a staff writer and editor.

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J.D. Tuccille is managing editor of Reason.com.

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Meredith Bragg is managing editor of Reason TV.

Prior to joining Reason, he worked at C-SPAN, Washingtonpost.com, and ABC News. 

 

Nick Gillespie is the editor in chief of Reason.com and Reason TV and the co-author of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, just out in paperback.

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