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Canadian Journal of Law and Technology

Authors

Stephen Orr

Abstract

Current legal discourse about video games focuses primarily on freedom of speech issues relating to the content of games. Using the work of Jean Baudrillard (and to a small extent Marshall McLuhan) this article reconsiders how we should conceptualize the regulation of video games. Baudrillard's theories are particularly interesting to explore as his pessimistic reflections about technology challenge us to contemplate how profoundly the form of new communicative technologies, such as video games, shape human interactions. Appealing to both theorists' belief that "the medium is the message", this article argues that we should be wary of focusing legal energy exclusively on content restrictions, since the content of particular games will not shape the world as profoundly as gaming machines themselves. This article also explores Baudrillard's troubling claims that communicative technology will lead to a conflation of reality and "hyperreality", and a reduction of human agency. This article is written as a response to the dearth of discussion regarding the broader effects of video games beyond content.

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