Matt started talking up the weird issues developing around multiplayer online games a few weeks ago. Then soon after he blogged it, a story appeared in On the Media (listen, transcript)
Short story: online gaming is huge — one developer claims four million paying customers. More significantly, the interplay between real and virtual worlds might create new challenges for this real world legal system. “Theft” of in-game money and equipment among players in the online world is possible, but it’s lead to the real-world arrest of at least one person and the murder of another when authorities refused to act.
One argument is that these games occupy players time and cost money, so in-game theft results in real-life loss. Baloney. Chess and Monopoly occupy great deals of time, but try telling the cops I rooked your knight. Money? A huge number of Americans invest time and money on building and racing cars on the approximately 1800 racetracks around the country. Real time and and hard-earned money are lost when cars crash, but the track has its own rules “rubin’s racin, Cole” — and none of us would excuse a driver for off-track violence against a competitor.