Michael Froomkin,a longtime cyberlawyer, and his wife, Caroline Bradley, have released Virtual Worlds, Real Rules. Here they argue that we could use VWs to simulate legal systems IRL without having the downsides of experimenting with actual legal systems. They suggest that property, tax, even torts, might be relevant areas to apply the insights of VWs.
Interesting idea. I wonder whether it will be possible to get past the "hey, it's just a game" factor (by which I mean that people don't take it as seriously online as they would IRL) or the fact that the systems tend not to allow for much experimentation coz they're driven by the needs of the developers, not the populace. Be *very* interesting to see how this might develop.