Tecnologie e Società


Ludium II - Synthetic Worlds and Public Policy
Edward Castronova



June 22-23 Bloomington Indiana

"Synthetic Worlds and Public Policy"

Synthetic worlds – million-player online environments with genuine markets, societies, and cultures – are exploding in size and significance. Real world governments around the globe are beginning to grapple with their implications in the areas of taxation, intellectual property laws, consumer rights, addiction, violence, and more. Should synthetic worlds be controlled by developers, or by governments, or both? What about the rights of users? What general norms should legislatures and courts follow? Most experts believe that decisions in the next few years will set the terms for these interactive spaces for generations to come. To encourage the thoughtful development of policy wisdom now, and to help prevent catastrophic policy mistakes in the next few years, the Synthetic Worlds Initiative at Indiana University will focus its second Ludium conference on the topic of Synthetic Worlds and Public Policy (Bloomington, Indiana, June 22-23).

Ludium II will bring together experts on virtual worlds from academia, industry, and government to play a live-action political game leading to an extremely serious, timely, and important contribution: a consensus Platform of 10 Statements answering the question "What policies should real world governments have with regards to synthetic worlds?" The hope is that this Platform will provide answers when legislatures and administrators wonder what to do in response to the critical public issues that will be raised by these unique social technologies.

The consensus Platform will emerge from the game CONVENTION that has been designed specifically to help disparate groups of people come to common understandings. The game, designed by Studio Cypher LLC, puts conference attendees in the role of delegates to a political party convention whose objective is to hammer out a common platform. CONVENTION’s incentives will lead the group to a set of policy recommendations believed by most participants to be important, sensible, and feasible. The rules of the game are attached to this email. Please direct comments and questions about the rules to Studio Cypher's Lead Designers Nathan Mishler ( and Will Emigh (

After the conference, the consensus conference Platform will be published as an open letter, and sent directly to all major political candidates and officer-holders in the United States.
REGISTRATION for Ludium II will open on April 23, 2007. A Call for Participation will be released at that time. Because the conference is organized as a live game, registration is limited. For updates, check the Synthetic Worlds Initiative website at . Please direction questions about registration and participation to Kim Fatten ( or Bridget Agabra (

We look forward to welcoming you at Ludium II.

Edward Castronova, Conference Chair
Kim Fatten, Conference Organizer
Bridget Agabra, Conference Advisor


A Game of Policy Formation
For 40 – 400 Players

Designed by Studio Cypher, LLC


CONVENTION takes place over two days in a large meeting hall where dozens or hundreds of members of an organization are meeting to come up with a set of statements for the group as a whole. These statements could be core values, strategies, political positions, policies, endorsements, rules, missions, goals, or any other fixed set of brief declarations that the group would like to express to others as part of the group’s overall shared vision.

The game operates like a political convention. Players are delegates allocated into districts, which are in turn allocated to regions. The game is designed for about five delegates per district, and four different regions, but it scales by adding more districts to each region. A group of 40 players would have two districts per region. A group of 400 would have 20 districts per region.

Before the convention, the organizers designate a Chair for the proceedings, who then announces the subject-matter of the exercise. During the first day of the convention, delegates generate specific statements that they think represent the best positions for the whole group, within the subject matter area defined by the Chair. They then attempt to get those statements accepted by their entire region. Districts also work to get one of their members chosen as Speaker Nominee for their region. During the second day, 40 statements, the top ten from each region, are winnowed down to a final Platform of just 10 statements. Also, a Speaker for the entire group is elected. The other members of the Speaker’s district are considered the Cabinet.

One grand prize goes to the elected Speaker and his or her cabinet. Another goes to the district whose statements end up on the final Platform. Other prizes go to districts based on their performance in the game.

The output of CONVENTION is a list of 10 statements that represent a consensus among the group, along with an identified team of individuals who can articulate that consensus to others.

Background Lore

Trouble brews in the nation of Kuuria. The five regions – the tinkerers of Sysland, the free spirits of Thalo, the pragmatists of Palvi, the traders of Aroland, and the wizards of Koithuo – have fallen into dispute about the basic shared vision of their country. In a desperate move, the quarrelsome government of Koithuo has been toppled by a coalition of the other four regions. Yet strife builds among the victors, and a great convention has been called in the capital city of Syda to prevent further conflict. Can the delegates from Sysland, Thalo, Palvi, and Aroland agree on a shared vision? Will one region dominate the others in the end? What of the rumors that Koithuo’s spies intend to use stealth and deception to put their region’s interests forward secretly? As a delegate from one of the five regions, you will take part in two days of vision-building. Should you succeed in having your ideas accepted by all Kuurians, great power and riches await you and the people you represent. Should you fail, you and your constituents will fall behind as Kuuria moves on in another direction. Choose the best ideas and articulate them well, for much is at stake.

Basic Structure of Play


09:00a – 09:15a Welcome speech by the Chair
09:15a – 10:00a Districts meet individually and generate 10 platform statements. Also, each district picks one person to be its nominee for Speaker.
10:00a – 10:30a The 10 statements from each district are compiled into regional lists. During this time, the speaker nominees from each district compete in a straw poll. All delegates from a region assemble at one spot on the floor. Each Speaker nominee makes a fiery, speech. Delegates vote by acclamation.
10:30a – 12:00p Regional statement lists distributed. Delegates vote for statements on the regional list. After the vote, the list is ordered votes received.
12:00p – 01:30p Lunch
01:30p – 02:30p Delegates vote on regional statements again.
02:30p – 02:45p Another Speaker nominee straw poll is held.
02:45p – 03:45p Final delegate vote on the regional statement list. The top ten Statements are the regional platform entering Day Two.
03:45p – 05:00p Speaker nominee formal vote. Districts vote formally for the Speaker candidate from their region. The candidate with the highest district vote wins. Exception: If no candidate achieves 30 percent, another ballot is held.


9:00a – 10:00a Convention opens. No formal activity. Delegates available for negotiation. Chair and scorekeepers available for notification of any relevant decisions overnight.
10:00a – 11:00a Introduction of cabinets, and Speaker nominee straw poll. The four nominees take the stage and introduce the members of their cabinet. After these fiery speeches, all delegates vote by acclamation for the nominee of their choice at that time.
11:00a – 12:00p Delegates vote on all statements from the regional platforms. The list is ordered by the number of votes.
12:00p – 01:30p Lunch
01:30p – 03:00p Speaker nominee speeches / presentations, 20 minutes each.
03:00p – 04:00p Final delegate vote on the statement list; the top ten Statements are the winning Convention Platform. Then: Roll call vote for Speaker. The nominee with the support of the most districts is the Speaker. Exception: If no candidate receives 50 percent support, another ballot is held.
04:00p – 05:00p Awarding of prizes. Speaker’s acceptance speech.

How to Win
There are three ways to win the game.

1. Your district can pick one person to be nominee for Speaker. If your nominee is elected Speaker, your district becomes the cabinet and wins the Speaker Grand Prize, the Shining Star of Light.
2. Your district will get Influence Points (IPs) for creating Statements that become part of the platform for your region and for the nation as a whole. You can build your IPs by getting people to vote for your Statements, but also by sponsoring the Statements of other districts. The district with the most IPs at the end of the game wins the Influence Grand Prize, the Chalice of Saethryd. Exception: if this district also won the Speaker Grand Prize, the Chalice goes to the district with the next highest IP total.
3. Your district will acquire a War Chest of money through debates, deals, and side games. You can spend this War Chest in pursuit of objectives (1) and (2) above, or simply to influence the course of affairs for its own sake. But you can also keep your monies to the end of the game. The top 20 wealthiest districts (excluding the Grand Prize winners) will receive treasure sacks filled with prizes, with first pick going to the district with the biggest War Chest.

War Chests
Each district begins with a War Chest of 10 crowns. They will win more funds for the War Chest from time to time. These funds will be paid in physical tokens and must be given to individual people to hold. At the end of the game, all accounting will be based on physical possession of the tokens alone. Each district will have to make decisions about how to allocate its War Chest funds when they are received. If no agreement can be reached, Judges will enforce a default rule of equal division with any excess fractions going to the district’s nominee.

Statements, Voting, and Influence Points (IP)
Statements. At the start of the game, each district takes an hour to make up 10 Statements that fit the criteria announced in advance by the Chair. This becomes the district’s Platform. During the game, the many District Platforms are winnowed down to a single 10-Statement Convention Platform. As the district’s Statements make their way through this winnowing process, the district gains Influence Points (IPs).

If for example a charity group wants to identify its core mission, the person running CONVENTION might ask the delegates to propose simple statements of possible missions. A district might propose a list with entries like “Feed the Hungry”, “House the Homeless”, and “Cure Disease.” If all three survive to the final Convention Platform, this district would earn many Influence Points.

Voting. At certain scheduled times, delegates will receive a Statement Ballot, a sheet listing a large number of Statements. Each delegate has 15 votes to allocate to these Statements, one vote per Statement, no more and no less. A delegate may allocate 10 votes to his own district’s Statements, but must assign at least 5 votes to the Statements of other districts. The delegates will have a fixed period of time, usually one hour, to make these decisions. Negotiation and vote-trading is encouraged. At the end of the hour, all Statement Ballots must be turned in to the Scorekeeper for counting. Statements that receive no votes are removed from the game. The surviving Statements are reported back to the delegates in order of vote percentage.

On Day One, the Statement Ballot contains all Statements proposed by districts within the delegate’s region. Day One votes determine the 10-Statement Regional Platform for each region. On Day Two, the Statement Ballot contains the four Regional Platforms. Day Two votes determine the 10-Statement Convention Platform.

Influence Points. In each vote, Statements will receive a certain percentage of the votes cast. For each percentage point, rounded up, 1 Influence Point is added to the creating district’s IP total.

A district will also receive IPs if its members become Advisors to nominees for Speaker. See “The Race for Speaker,” below.

Sponsorship, Amendments, and Mergers
A district may sponsor up to five Statements of other districts. Both districts must agree to the sponsorship and jointly report it to the chair. A sponsor receives IPs just as if it had created the Statement itself. The IPs are received, however, only for votes happening after the sponsorship is reported to the Chair. A sponsorship may be removed at any time, again by reporting to the Chair.

A district may amend the wording of one of its Statements at any time. If the Statement is sponsored by other districts, all districts must agree on the new wording. The new wording is not considered official until it is reported to the Chair. The Chair may reject proposed amendments if they fundamentally alter the original meaning. An amended Statement rejected in this way may, at the district’s option, become a new Statement for the district, replacing the old one. This is the only way to introduce new Statements after the game has begun.

Two or more districts may merge two Statements by using these rules. The two districts agree on an amended wording of one district’s statement. Then the other district becomes a sponsor of the amended Statement. The two original Statements are discarded.

When the main stage is not otherwise occupied by convention business, the Chair will allow delegates to take the stage to engage in debates. In a debate, one delegate (A) will argue in favor of a certain Statement, while the other (B) will argue against it. Two delegates may request to engage in a debate by reporting to the chair. The Chair may accept or reject the proposed debate. If accepted, the debate is turned over to the Stage Manager for scheduling. The scheduled order of all debates is at the discretion of the Stage Manager.

Each debate will last 12 minutes: Three minutes each for A – B – A – B.

When the debate is over, Judges will call for an acclamation vote by the audience. The winner receives 10 crowns. The loser receives 2 crowns.

If the stage is empty, the Chair may call specific districts to a debate. When called to a debate, the district must select one delegate as its debater. They will be informed of the debate topic and the opponent, and will have 15 minutes to prepare. Districts that fail to appear will be fined 5 crowns.

The Race for Speaker
At the start of the game, each district picks one member as its Speaker Nominee. This person will compete to become the Speaker nominee for the entire region. The four regional nominees will compete to become the Speaker for the entire Convention. Speaker nominees will be called on to make speeches at various times during the event. If elected, Speakers can exercise great power over the convention Platform.

On Day One, delegates from each region will select one of these district nominees as the Regional Nominee. On Day Two, delegates from all regions will select one of the Regional Nominees as the Speaker for the entire group.

On Day One, a series of straw polls is held within each region to determine relative popularity of each nominee. Straw polls are announced from the main stage by the Chair, and the four corners of the convention floor will be designated as the location of the straw poll for each region (Thalo, Palvi, Sysland, and Aroland). When announced, all delegates from a given region should assemble in the designated corner. Accompanied by a Judge, the district nominees will take turns giving speeches to the crowd from a suitable platform (ladder, chair, soapbox, etc.). The speeches last no more than two minutes. After the speeches, the Judge will call for acclamation of each nominee. The nominee who receives the loudest acclamation wins 10 crowns for his or her district’s War Chest. Second place wins 5 crowns. Third place wins 2 crowns.

At the end of Day One, a roll call vote is held within each region to determine the Regional Speaker Nominee. A Judge will call out the names of each district in the region in turn. The delegates for that district will then be asked to vote, by show of hands, which Speaker nominee they support. Only delegates present at the time of the roll call may cast a vote. If the majority of delegates from a district votes for a given nominee, then that nominee receives one vote in the Regional Speaker Nominee election. If the district’s members have not reached a majority of support within their district for any one nominee, they may pass once. When called a second time, a district that does not have majority support for any one candidate is considered an “Abstain.”

The nominee with the most district votes wins the regional election. If no nominee has support from more than 30 percent of the districts, a second ballot is held. Nominees may, at their discretion, drop out between ballots. Balloting continues until at least one nominee has received a majority vote in at least 30 percent of the districts in the region. The Regional Nominee receives 40 crowns for his or her district’s War Chest.

At the beginning of Day Two, each Regional Nominee reports to the Chair the membership of his or her Cabinet. The Cabinet includes all members of the nominee’s district, plus up to two Advisors chosen at will. A district whose delegate becomes an Advisor to a Regional Nominee receives 10 Influence Points. A district whose delegate becomes an Advisor to the elected Speaker receives 30 Influence Points.

As the first stage activity on Day Two, each Nominee / Cabinet group then has 10 minutes on the main stage to make a brief introductory statement to the convention. After these presentations, an acclamation vote is conducted. The winner receives 20 crowns; second, third, and fourth place receive 15, 10, and 5 crowns respectively.

After lunch on Day Two, each Regional Nominee makes a formal 20-minute speech to the convention.

After these speeches, a roll call vote is held for the whole convention, using the rules of the regional roll call votes. The Chair will call out the names of each district in turn. The delegates for that district will then be asked to vote, by show of hands, which Speaker nominee they support. Only delegates present at the time of the roll call may cast a vote. If the majority of delegates from a district votes for a given nominee, then that nominee receives one vote in the Speaker election. If the district’s members have not reached a majority of support within their district for any one nominee, they may pass once. When called a second time, a district that does not have majority support for any one candidate is considered an “Abstain.”

The office of Speaker is awarded to the nominee with support from the most districts, so long as there is support from more than 50 percent of the districts. If none of the nominees receives support from at least 50 percent of the districts, additional ballots are held until this condition is achieved. Nominees may, at their discretion, drop out between ballots.

Reporters will roam the convention floor, seeking news about Statements, votes, sponsorships, arguments, shady deals, etc. News will be reported in two streams. Papers will print lists of news blurbs and vote counts, with date/time stamps, and will be available in limited quantities at one of two news stands on the convention floor. Elsewhere on the floor, scrolling broadcasts of the same material will be viewable on screens at two TV Stations.

While Reporters will collect News at will, they may also accept bribes of 2 crowns from district War Chests to reveal information or to place items in the News stream.

No rights of privacy are assumed. Any and all actions, occurring anywhere and at any time during the game, may be freely reported in the News.

Secret Agents
Approximately 1 in 20 delegates will be selected at random to play the role of Agents for the occupied region of Koithuo. This region has been dispossessed of all power by its neighbors, and its citizens understandably desire some influence over the affairs of the nation. They have therefore secretly infiltrated their own Agents into the delegate pools of the other regions.

The Agents of Koithuo represent a special kind of district. Their role is to give the Chair some influence on the subject matter of the convention’s deliberations. They do not generate a platform of 10 Statements at the start of the game; rather, their platform is given to them in advance, and secretly, by the Chair. The Agents are then allocated to the other four regions, just as if they were normal delegates. However, in secret, the Agents’ mission is to work within the other regions to place the Koithuo Statements on the national Platform. Koithuo’s Agents may also attempt to be selected as Advisors or Speaker Nominees.

If at the end of the game, a final Platform Statement is found to be the same or very nearly the same as a Statement on the Koithuo Platform, then all IPs awarded to that Statement in the course of the game are added to the total IPs of the Agents of Koithuo. If the Agents accumulate the most IP, then Koithuo wins the Chalice of Saethryd.

If an Agent is elected Speaker, then Koithuo wins the Shining Star of Light.

The Agents may pool any War Chest funds in their physical possession at the end of the game and use them to select a Sack of Treasure for themselves.

Special Powers
Certain players and districts are eligible for Special Powers, which may be used to affect vote scores and IPs. To apply a Special Power, report your use to the Chair. The Chair verifies proper use and then updates scores accordingly.
• Speaker Agenda. At the end of Day One, each of the four Regional Speaker Nominees may add one Statement, of any wording, to the list of 10 winning Statements for that Region. He or she may also veto one Statement, striking it from the list. At the end of Day Two, the elected Speaker of the convention may exercise the same power, except that if he adds a new Statement, he must veto an existing Statement so that the final list only has 10 Statements.
• Liberty of Thalo. Districts in the Thalo region may apply the Liberty of Thalo bonus to any one of their own Statements. The Statement must involve issues of individual rights, freedoms, or powers. That Statement receives a bonus of 2 percentage points in all subsequent vote tallies.
• Sysland Engineering. Districts in the Sysland region may apply the Sysland Engineering bonus to any one of their own Statements. The Statement must involve issues of engineering, strategy, design, or technology. That Statement receives a bonus of 2 percentage points in all subsequent vote tallies.
• Riches of Aroland. Districts in the Aroland region may apply the Riches of Aroland bonus to any one of their own Statements. The Statement must involve issues of business, industry, markets, profits, or the economy. That Statement receives a bonus of 2 percentage points in all subsequent vote tallies.
• Palvi Practicality. Districts in the Palvi region may apply the Palvi Practicality bonus to any one of their own Statements. The Statement must express an idea that can be implemented immediately, involves no controversy, or is obviously feasible. That Statement receives a bonus of 2 percentage points in all subsequent vote tallies.

CONVENTION requires the following staff:
• Chair. Runs the timetable. Makes announcements.
• Secretary. Receives and records all reports to the Chair.
• Scorekeeper and Assistants (5). Keeps scores.
• Banker. Pays Crowns and records IP accumulation.
• Stage Manager. Handles staging of debates, speeches.
• Judges (4). Assess acclamation votes, report results to Scorekeeper.
• Vote Counters (4). Count ballots, enter results into central DB, print and distribute to Chair and Reporters.
• Editor. Send reporters to get information, create stories, etc.
• Reporters (4). Collect information, write and print papers and broadcasts.

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