Caution: Spoiler Alert!

"Ready Player One" directed by Steven Spielberg, came to the theatres in the past few days and made feel the need to debate the concept of "Virtual Reality" again. While watching the film, you are being enchanted by the magic of this new world, but at the same time, you cannot prevent yourself from thinking about potential dangers of this world.

The film brings us to the 2040s; where the world is degenerated in many respects and the natural resources are depleted. On this assumption, civilization has collapsed and human emotions have disappeared in the world. People do not care about this corrupt state of the world and they accept the game universe called "The Oasis" as a real life. Oasis's millionaire founder, James Halliday, hid a key into the universe; and it is told that when James dies, all his wealth and control of the game will be assigned to the person who finds this key. This successful production is telling the stories of a character named Wade Watts while she was wearing the virtual reality glasses, and at the same time, leads the audience to face with the future of virtual reality.

In Oasis, the players can turn into the person they want to be or they can do anything they want to do.

However, in case the game characters called "avatars" die in the universe, the players also lose all their money and all their clothes; namely, they lose everything. We recommend to everyone, young and old, to watch this movie considers virtual reality from an innovative and skeptical point of view.

What is Virtual Reality?

So, what is this virtual reality which becomes a passion nowadays, could be subject of a movie directed by a famous director such as Steven Spielberg, and might be a subject of discussion in any case? Virtual reality is the multidimensional and realistic imaginary platforms. With the virtual reality applications that put many emotions in action, the users are not only watching the computer from the screen; but also they are experiencing the reality in that world like they are living there. Virtual reality mediums allow the users moving real-time, travelling and touching the objects in the virtual world. Helmets detect sounds and images, motion-sensitive clothes, gloves and cabinets might be given as examples for using to create virtual reality.

The virtual world is the places that virtual reality creates. The scientific papers and researches define the virtual world as "the reflection of the dreams created in the space with the pictures or the words and the places make the person feel like he is in that world". In the virtual world, the users are represented by moveable virtual characters and such characters called "avatar" are able to interact with the other avatars and virtual objects in the platform.

Virtual Reality and Law

We will be faced with many questions in the future when the virtual reality like Oasis is created. Since the Law has not even followed the steps taken after the development of the Internet, it is questionable whether it can catch up such new technologies which go beyond the Internet. When the enactment process and period of any positive law norm is considered; it could be said that such technologies such as virtual reality will be outdated and even many problems might be remained unanswered until the laws regulating such advanced technologies show up.

Why is a Legal Arrangement Necessary?

How will real persons be responsible from the behaviors of the avatars in the real world when avatars communicate with each other? Are the legal rules necessary to determine the limits of the responsibility and sanctions to be imposed on when any avatar damages another one or any object in the virtual world? Is there any possibility to exchange the virtual money earned by avatars to real money in the real world? All of such and similar questions might be tried to solve with the existing rules of law. However, it is questionable how the existing rules of law comply with such advanced technology and how much comparison can be made in these conditions. In cases the law is not able to find a solution theoretically and practically; it could be faced with many legal problems such as especially money laundering, financing of terrorism, infringement of intellectual property rights in virtual world, determination of the competent court and jurisdiction.

Originally published April 2018.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.