August 31, 2006

It’s *All* Online These Days [8:58 am]

A continuing question: can one commit a crime in the online world? Or, more specifically, how to decide when a crime has been committed, and what to do about it? Another example Cons in the virtual gaming world

Earlier this month, a virtual bank CEO in the science-fiction role-playing game “Eve Online” made off with billions in cybercurrency that fellow gamers had entrusted to him with the hope of earning some interest.

The banker, a player who goes by the alias “Cally,” has admitted to the scam, and even bragged about it. It’s unlikely, however, that any action will be taken against him–online or offline. In the freewheeling world of “Eve,” what the virtual banker did was distasteful, but it probably didn’t break any rules.

[...] The aftermath, however, is much more complicated, and industry experts say it should raise warning flags for gamers who spend money on auction sites and exchanges to buy items used in virtual worlds. Some even think such virtual scandals could end up being settled in real-world courts.

“This stuff is real money,” said journalist Julian Dibbell, author of “Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job And Struck It Rich In Virtual Loot Farming.” According to Dibbell, “once the money trade is there, this stuff can be sold as quickly and sometimes more quickly than real currency.”

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