The Digital Drivetrain
The automotive world's transition into the age of digital media

Your Avatar is Under Arrest

In class we have been recently discussion Online Reality Simulator “games” such as Second Life and the potential for “crime” in these programs. There has been a variety of problems within the programs which some people believe should be considered crimes. Firstly, there has been multiple accounts of “sexual assault” within the game. Basically where people are bumping their Avatars into other people’s and typing dirty/sexually suggestive things. Another problem occurs when people are copying code from other player’s objects and selling the object for in-game money. I do agree that these actions are certainly not something that belongs in game-play or something that the companies which run the games should tolerate, but actually taking real life legal action against people for what they do in game? That is ridiculous.

First we will shoot down the so called “Sexual Assault.” Really? You feel sexually assaulted because of what happened to you over the internet? Have you even been on the internet before? If you were to arrest people for putting sexually offensive or suggest material on the internet I hope you have a large prison, because over half of websites will need to be shut down. I understand the personal nature of how the game is supposed to supplement real life and its more person to person but if someone if bothering you that bad in a room you CAN leave. In real life they might follow you and continue bothering you but it’s a computer game. Log off for 5 minutes, if someone is bothering you so badly you want to file a sexual assault why wouldn’t you just turn the computer off? Boom, nobody can harass a dark, blank screen can they? Changing your in-game identity is as simple as emailing one tech or just changing your name on the log-in menu. If you are being sexually assaulted and aren’t doing anything about it, it’s not the police you need to call, you should call someone will common sense to explain to you how easily you can change an online character.

Now it turns into a bit of a gray area when it comes to people “stealing” in-game item’s codes and copying them and selling them for in-game money. I understand how people could believe this is an infringement of their intellectual property, but what are these thieves really gaining? In-game money. Sure, if they somehow sold these things for real money I guess that could warrant an actual arrest, but the in-game money isn’t real! It is a part of the game and therefore the people would should take care of this problem are the makers of the game. I understand there is some people buying in-game money with real money, but there is really no way to convert the value of in-game currency to real world currency. This should warrant a ban from the game and a nasty email, but they aren’t actually stealing anything that could make them any money that could leave the game.

People lose sight of what theft really is when it comes to “pirating” and things that happen over the internet. I feel the picture above best describes my opinion on online “theft.” “Imagine your car gets stolen, but it’s still there in the morning.” If I make a copy of something and use it for my own use and make no money from it whatsoever, and the original copy is still there and not changed, can you really call it stealing? I know these multimillion dollar production companies are really struggling but I maintain that pirates are people on wooden boats burying treasure underground, so go find them and arrest them.

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One Response to “Your Avatar is Under Arrest”

  1. I see your point but I have to disagree respectfully.

    I understand that the copying of an e-game seems silly. Legally charging them for it seems stupid. I also see how it’s difficult to see that something could be stolen if it still there.

    However, the way I see it, theft does not have to necessarily involve a tangible object. Imagine that you have an idea for a new technology- you are working on it- and some ahole steals that idea and sells it to a company before you could and makes billions. Nothing was really removed from you physically- but I’m sure that you would still consider yourself robbed.

    Same way I see our argument in piracy- you might be making a copy of a song- and your not stealing something physical- but you are taking someone’s idea without their permission. idk, but it seems dishonest to me.

    What do you think?


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