With the rise of Minecraft – a popular video game and online phenomenon – some players have started creating interactive ‘Redstone’ calculators and computers within its virtual confines.
[Aside: ‘Redstone’, a virtual material in Minecraft, can be used in the game much as someone might use electrical components and wiring in the real world.]
Minecraft™ platform users can then operate these virtual computers to actually perform calculations (e.g., as demonstrated in this Youtube™ video) and provide other real world utility. Numerous other video “games”, online and otherwise, allow users to create new and original virtual property constructs that offer functionalities in the real world.
Now, from an intellectual property perspective, a work must be both creative and original for copyright to subsist. And, to be granted a patent, inventions must be useful, new and ingenious. Accordingly – and as the lines between gamification, virtual worlds, and the real one become increadingly blurred (e.g., with the advent of augmented reality) – we may soon find greater public interest in seeing how these and other virtual constructs might properly prove worthy of intellectual property protection…
For now though, perhaps, you should just stay tuned.