Demand Player Sovereignty: A Manifesto for Avatar Rights
A community that does not know the standards by which the administrators use their power is a community which permits its administrators to have no standards, and is therefore a community abetting in tyranny...The community has the right to require of every administrator or individual with special powers and privileges granted for the purpose of administration, an account of his administration. This relates to accountability and transparency. A virtual community in which the observance of the code of conduct is not assured and universal, nor the separation of powers defined, has no constitution at all.
- Raph Koster, A Declaration of the Rights of Avatars, Aug 2000
The avatar is an extension of a geophysically-defined personwho embodies and inherits rights specified in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (U. D. H. R.). Avatars manifest their physical counterparts or users. The Avatar is not simply a software representation devoid of agency.
We recognize that administrators, code, databases, and hardware fulfill the role of caretakers in game environments. They form an indispensable architecture within which consistent game engagement itself is manufactured. This becomes ineffectual without the full interaction and interplay of the user, the avatar, and the community.
We demand a voice:
We demand the right to reflect on the underlying code and architecture on which a game environment is constructed.
We demand open dialogue with the corporate stakeholders.
We demand participatory real-time engagement and feedback according to a dynamic game structure.
We demand self governance:
We demand standards of behavior and enforcement that are created by the community.
We demand standards that apply to administration, particularly in disciplinary-related actions.
We demand corporate reflection on the greater implications of avatar and human-user rights in the public sphere.
We demand transparency:
We demand Terms of Service (T. O. S.) that are written in plain-language.
We demand T. O. S. that do more than protect the hosting corporation.
We demand codified acknowledgment that “clicking through” the T. O. S. does not automatically indicate a manufacturing of user or avatar consent.
We reject flawed game narratives that harm our community.
We reject narratives that conflict with self evident game-dependent truths and fail to support the in-world history.
We reject that avatars and users can cede their synthetic rights. The same principles should be inferred to avatars as are in the U. D. H. R.
We resolve to create a code of conduct that embraces the diversity of our community as an ongoing open process of avatar self-governance.
We resolve to remain an open and transparently governed body in pursuit of positive change for the community and game environs in general.