Friday, August 19, 2005

Computer characters mugged in virtual crime spree

From the article (New Scientist):
A man has been arrested in Japan on suspicion carrying out a virtual mugging spree by using software "bots" to beat up and rob characters in the online computer game Lineage II. The stolen virtual possessions were then exchanged for real cash.

Is this really a criminal action?

Sure what the guy has done is cheating, but most definitely not criminal. The article doesn't give any details about what charges have been laid so it is hard to know exactly what he did wrong.

This sounds more like an issue with game design. The whole fact you're able to mug someone in-game makes this a non-crime. If the developers are worried about mugging then they should take the 'looting other Player Characters (PC)' out of the game. It seems to me the only thing 'wrong' this guy did was to use a Bot (making his him unbeatable), which is probably outlined as a no-no in the EULA. Show me where in the manual is says, "If you use a Bot you will be arrested." If they don't want Bots in-game, then track down the offenders, ban their accounts and give the loot back to the rightful owners.

2 comments:

Tom said...

This is another example of the virtual world pushing the boundary of reality. He took that stuff, fair enough, but was able to then sell the goods in real life for cash.

Is this not akin to nicking something else of someone (like some jewels) and then selling those?

I'm not sure where the distinction lies, but the law enforcement there appear to think this crosses the boundary.

I wonder what the lawyers and judges will think.

Craig said...

I really think is that no crime really happened to the victim. The game is about beating up other players, it is a Player vs. Player MMORPG.

If you want more cool stuff you team up with your clan (if you want) and go beat up on another player(s). You get their goods for use in the game. Getting their goods is part of the game, nothing illegal there.

Selling the goods on ebay or wherever is probably against the game's terms and conditions but I still don't see why it is criminal. Ban his account and move on.