Call 911, He Stole My Magic Sword

from the the-sheriff-of-WoW dept

At a gaming conference, Microsoft warned that multi-player online games have significant security vulnerabilities, and that the growing value of in game assets was a juicy target for criminals. As we've seen in the past, MMORPGs are facing more and more real world complications as people invest an increasing amount of money into them. This problem is only going to get worse; as one Microsoft researcher put it, "The police are really good at understanding someone stole my credit card and ran up a lot of money. It's a lot harder to get them to buy into 'someone stole my magic sword.'" But before discussing how law enforcement can address the situation, game developers and players should try to define the border between the game and the real world. For example, most people would accept that if your character is mugged inside a game, then that's part of the gameplay, not a legal issue. But what about counterfeiting gold pieces? What about running a script inside the game that transfers gold from one player to another? Before diverting law enforcement resources to rectify players' complaints, companies running online games need to strive to develop their own security measures that satisfy their players.

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  1. identicon
    Adam, 15 Aug 2006 @ 3:47pm

    Game cheating should never be handled by the real

    The day my tax dollars are spent to fund police at punishing someone for stealing non-existant imaginary items from a video game, is the day I officailly declare this world doomed from excessive ignorance.

    You can't sue a game company for a bug in their game that deletes all your fake gold, so why would a security hole that allows someone to effectively do the same be reason for criminal investigation?

    What is the line between a computer game and board game like Monopoly, that for some reason someone can steal from the banker, and if you called the real police they'd laugh at you, yet cheating in an online game and all of a sudden everyone thinks this is a hard / interesting subject. Sorry, there is nothing complex here, it is a simple case of trying to mix the real world with the imaginary.

    And if you want to use the excuse of "But I pay real money for access to this game and service, which is different from playing a free board game.", that would be a good point, except for the fact that Monopoly cost money to buy before you can play. And you can't bring 'but I buy gold online with real money' excuse into this either because that is clearly against most MMORPG TOS which puts YOU at fault for any losses.

    Playing video games online comes with the implied understanding that there will always be risk of cheaters. You automatically accept this fact once you click 'I agree' on MMORPG EULAS. Heck, even without it being written out, it is common sense and a fact of online gaming. As well, leave it to the developers to fix and/or police their own game. It should be THEIR job, as it is THEIR world for them to add whatever rules they want, and should enforce to the best of their ability. They may not stop all cheating, but that does not mean the government should step in, that is just rediculous. Leave it to the GM's who are paid by your monthly fee, not by the police who are paid by everyones taxes, most of whom don't even play your imaginary game.

    Further, the thought of having local police handle a game which can have cheating conflicts across multiple countries would make policing games difficult even if it made any sense to do so, which again it doesn't.

    Only if the video game was used as an assessory to a real life crime, should the police get involved.

    It really is that simple.

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