Crime in Virtual Worlds: Should Victims Feel Distressed?

Crime in Virtual Worlds: Should Victims Feel Distressed?

Gráinne Kirwan (Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Ireland) and Andrew Power (Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-350-8.ch012
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Background

A virtual world, for the purposes of this chapter, refers to any computer generated representation of three-dimensional space. This does not necessarily mean that the world includes graphics – early virtual worlds such as LambdaMoo were text-based, but the text used described a three-dimensional world. For example, upon entering LambdaMoo as a guest, you are greeted with the following description of your surroundings.

The closet is a dark, cramped space. It appears to be very crowded in here; you keep bumping into what feels like coats, boots, and other people (apparently sleeping). One useful thing that you've discovered in your bumbling about is a metal doorknob set at waist level into what might be a door.

Most modern virtual worlds provide computer generated graphics in order for the user to more easily visualise their surroundings. Different virtual worlds have different functions. Some are socially based, such as ‘Second Life’ (www.eveonline.com) is a science-fiction based virtual world. EVE Online is a particularly interesting world from the perspective of virtual crime, as it openly acknowledges the existence of criminal activities between players in the world (Verone, n.d.) and informs players that the games developer and publisher (CCP games) will not intervene in cases of virtual theft (Evelopedia, n.d.)

Many of these virtual worlds are also termed Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (or MMORPGs), referring to the fact that there can be hundreds or thousands of people playing these games online at a given time, and that each player takes on a ‘role’ or a character. In some games, such as World of Warcraft and EVE Online, players can form teams and collaborations in order to achieve goals. These collaborations can be fairly permanent in nature (such as the ‘guilds’ in World of Warcraft), or may be temporary in order to obtain a specific goal, after which the users disband.

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