Computer Crime Research Center


Computer crimes in Massively Multiplayer Online RPG games

Date: November 03, 2007
By: Henry Northmore

These days, when we talk about crime in the cyber world we’re not referring to the joyriding depicted in Need for Speed or the multiple murders of Manhunt. These are crimes against computer controlled characters within games.

This may sound frivolous, but if you commit a crime in a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG (MMORPG), as in the games Word of Warcraft and Second Life, you are committing an act against another player. And if you take into account the fact that certain people are making their living from virtual worlds (Linden Lab’s Second Life has created real world paper millionaires) such crimes become more serious. Indeed, theft or any other crime can have very real implications in both cyberspace and day to day life. Famously, in China, a Legend of Mir 3 player was sentenced to life imprisonment after killing a fellow player who stole a powerful sword (a ‘dragon sabre’) then sold it on ebay.

Of course, crimes such as setting up computer controlled characters (or bots) that mine for resources or attack other players, break the rules of the game and are not tolerated. Then there is the complex issue of how to deal with activities that are illegal in various countries. This includes gambling, which has now been banned on Second Life as it is illegal in the USA and gambling regulations vary worldwide. But there are many other crimes that can occur in the gaming world.
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