MMOs: the future of the nation-state?

World of Warcraft screenshotFinally! While not much of an MMO player myself (I don’t have the time to set my highly addiction-prone personality loose in alternative realities at the moment), the time I’ve spent in Second Life has convinced me that the metaverse is a hugely important sociopolitical step for us as a species. [image by fernashes]

So I’m really pleased to see social scientists like Aleks Krotoski of The Guardian saying that MMOs are harbingers of the doom of the nation-state:

Now, I don’t imagine that any of my mates would be willing to pledge allegiance to Azeroth, the fictional setting for their escapades and dance parties, but without question they experience a sense of togetherness celebrated by academics and philosophers for its emergent governance. Warcraft, Second Life, EverQuest, even the text-based LambdaMOO – all have unregulated telecoms services and thriving and exchangeable unregulated currencies. They also have hierarchies and power structures, justice systems and benevolent dictators.

These spaces threaten world order. Traditional governments have spent the past four years back-pedalling, trying to regulate these spaces, in the name of national security. In fact, they’re just trying to make sure that they don’t lose control of the people who have gathered together in these consensual hallucinations. And their money, of course.

Yes. The internet itself is corrosive to geography, but virtual worlds increase the potency of the reagent considerably. Interesting times ahead, I think.