'Project Entropia' publisher goes after law professor

Over at Terra Nova, we discover that one of the virtual-worlds experts has had to spend a fair amount of time the last couple weeks fending off threatening e-mails from MindArk, the publisher of the virtual world "Project Entropia."

It seems that when MindArk announced a couple of weeks ago that it had a new system that would allow players to withdraw funds from their avatars' accounts in cash via an ATM card--a fact that The New York Times got very excited about--Dan Hunter, a Terra Nova founder and a law professor at Wharton School of Business posted that he thought the news was no big deal.

"This story has finally convinced me that MindArk is fantastic at generating public-relations stories that credulous media sources pick up without questioning," Hunter wrote, "but which, if investigated for even a moment, make you shake your head in wonder."

Full disclosure: I've been one of those reporters who wrote about a breathless "Project Entropia" announcement, in this case when one of its players paid $100,000 for a virtual resort in the game.

In any case, it seems that MindArk was unhappy with Hunter's diatribe and its CEO, Jan Welter Timkrans, has been peppering Wharton's administrators and Terra Nova's inbox with e-mails accusing Hunter of slander and demanding an apology.

Wharton and Terra Nova reacted by ignoring Timkrans, Hunter wrote, and then the CEO followed up:

"I am disappointed to note that none of you have answered the mail that I have submitted below," Hunter quoted Timkrans as writing. "This can only lead me to believe that the slander Dan Hunter is creating and spreading is sanctioned by the institution which employs him."

It's hard to know why Timkrans feels he will get an apology after sending e-mail after e-mail and clearly angering Hunter, who said he had planned to just ignore the whole thing and move on. Clearly, Hunter's response, publicizing the entire affair, is not what Timkrans had in mind.

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