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. icon
    Kal Zekdor (profile), 15 Aug 2006 @ 5:18pm

    This obsession people have with calling currency in online games "fake" always annoys me. What makes it fake? Is it that you can't go down the street and buy a soda with it? What if I handed you 100 Iceland Kronurs (about $1.50 in U.S. Dollars), and asked you to get me a soda? Would the cashier take the money? Probably not. Does that make Kronurs fake money? Not in the least. Money has value because people percieve to have value, and no other reason. Iceland has a population of about 300 thousand. World of Warcraft has about 5.5 million players. To those 5.5 million players, their gold is very real to them. They can use it to purchase goods and services they want. And since there are more WoW players then there are Icelandians (sp?), doesn't that mean WoW gold is a more commonly used currency than the Kronur? Fake indeed.

    As for the other issues at hand, selling in-game money is not illegal, only banned by most TOS. If your items or gold are stolen due to an in-game feature, no crime is committed, you were aware of the risks. If you gave away your password to some scammer, it's your own fault. But if someone hacks into the game server (a very real crime), and steals/deletes your items, I think you deserve recompense.

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