Research Paper Examines Virtual Crimes

February 25, 2010 -

As part of its reporting on trends and issues in crime and criminal justice, the Australian Government’s Institute of Criminology has issued a research paper that takes a look at transgressions that occur in virtual worlds.

Crime Risks of Three-Dimensional Virtual Environments was written by Ian Warren and Darren Palmer and kicks off with a mention of what may have been the first case of its kind—the “rape” of an avatar in the text-based game LambdaMoo. The incident resulted in a Village Voice piece on the incident, and eventually a book, and brought the issue of crime in virtual worlds to light.

A similar incident took place in Second Life in 2007 and actually caused Belgian police to patrol the online community to prevent rapes.

While virtual crimes such as money laundering or fraud can usually be handled by real-world laws, the grey area of harassment-type assaults online seems to continually confound authorities.

A few thoughts put forth by the paper:

The question of whether real-world notions of interpersonal harm apply to virtual assault or sexual assault is unresolved. This complicates the question of regulation within virtual worlds.

While civil redress for psychological harm is conceivable, the 'disembodied' character of such an incident would invariably bar liability for any crime against the person.

The paper notes that under Australian federal criminal law, a maximum penalty of three years could be levied on someone who menaces, harasses or causes offense to another user, though whether this law has ever been applied to virtual worlds is unclear.

Thanks to multinational users, jurisdictional uncertainties and technology that continues to evolve, “there is considerable uncertainty surrounding the role of criminal law in these multi-user categories.” The paper suggests that, “Formal criminal intervention would only have a place if an appreciable and measurable effect on the real-world victim could be established.”

Since so much is unknown or untested about this subject  as of yet, the paper suggest research directions for the future, which include “enhancing our understanding of the nature of harm within multi-user 3dve (three-dimensional virtual environments) platforms,” and more collaborative research on how to protect children in virtual worlds.

The report concludes:

Clearly, Australian 3dve users require more knowledge to identify, manage and prevent harm. Developing a systematic approach to harmonise current knowledge on these emerging issues is perhaps the greatest research priority.


Thanks Anthony!


Comments

Re: Research Paper Examines Virtual Crimes

How about 2dve or 2.5dve?

Re: Research Paper Examines Virtual Crimes

"I put on my robe and wizard hat"

Somehow i just don't understand how that can be considered a sexual violation.

Re: Research Paper Examines Virtual Crimes

wait what?  Huh?  How is it possible to rape somebody in Second Life?  Was this programmed?  I'm sorry, I'm not up to date on this kinda stuff.  Do you see a fuzzed out algamation of limbs while they do the horizontal monkey mambo?  And why the hell were the police involved?  Did they create avatars?  What bout mods?  Why not just report the guy to them and have him punished, although I don't see why he should if it's part of the programming of the game.  An in game punishment such as being chased by NPCs. And how much harm can this cause...I mean really....REALLLY.  It's a freaking game, nobody died from a game....

 

I'm waiting patiently for the obligatory saw reference.

---

I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

Re: Research Paper Examines Virtual Crimes

 The muu rape they're talking about was actually pretty well thought out and could indeed be considered a rape, except that it was 100% virtual.

The included wikipedia link has a good description of what happened.

Re: Research Paper Examines Virtual Crimes

In order for rape to happen it needs to be roleplayed, simple as that. There are some scripts, either meant for RP for genuinely malicious, that can incite it too, though in that case reportign would be the wiser options.

 
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Mattsworknameof players, over and over for the last seveal years. Among non RPG games, which make up the vast majority of current games, I think that you still see a large scale disparity between male and female in the AAA industry.07/01/2015 - 1:36am
Mattsworknamewilson. Out of RPG players yes, thats true, and in pc ciricles im not suprised, but RPGS make a small fraction of Console games these days and while pc gaming is seeing a resurgance, MMOs are actually retracting in size , as shown by WOW losing millions07/01/2015 - 1:33am
Matthew Wilsonhere is the study to prove it. http://www.pcgamer.com/researchers-find-that-female-pc-gamers-outnumber-males/07/01/2015 - 1:17am
Matthew Wilson@matt wrong over half of rpg players, both singleplayer and mmos, are female.07/01/2015 - 1:15am
MechaCrashRight, women don't usually play AAA games because none are aimed at them because they don't play them because none are aimed at them because okay you see where I'm going with this.07/01/2015 - 1:11am
MattsworknameI think the better path is this, more games built to give you the Choice of playing as male or female, and give the females good voice actors07/01/2015 - 1:08am
Mattsworknameup more then a fraction of the AAA games industry, but they make up a much larger part of the moble market.07/01/2015 - 1:04am
Mattsworknameandrew is right, to a point, as you are seeing a slow increase of women in games, but the sales shows that the lions share of gaming money comes from a male demo, and while andrew is right that it is changing, it's gonna be a LONG time before women make07/01/2015 - 1:04am
Andrew EisenI think more professional gamblers should get into games publishing. They'll play the odds but they'll also take risks to maximize profits.06/30/2015 - 11:57pm
Andrew EisenAt the end of the day, the ball is rolling and it's rolling in the right direction. Maybe not as fast as we'd like, but it is moving. All we can do is play the games that interest us and make our thoughts known.06/30/2015 - 11:55pm
Matthew Wilsonits unfortunate that the dataset is so tiny for female leads, and is a mixed bag, so money people get the wrong idea.06/30/2015 - 11:54pm
Andrew Eisen"Duke Nukem Forever sold poorly. See? Games staring white guys don't sell!" Pretty silly thing to say.06/30/2015 - 11:50pm
Andrew EisenOr, at the very least, that gamers aren't turned off by female leads.06/30/2015 - 11:49pm
Matthew Wilsonyou would think games like metriod, portal and tomb raider would show that it work, but hopefuly those knew ones will.06/30/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenBut, luckily strides are being made and the money peoples are slowly learning that diversity -> larger targeted audience -> more potential dollars.06/30/2015 - 11:43pm
Andrew EisenSure does. That's why there should be more than just one or two attempts. (7 games at E3 with female leads and 35 with a gender option. I think it's safe to say that not all of these will fail!)06/30/2015 - 11:42pm
Matthew Wilsonthat puts alot of presure on the early stuff to do well. lets hope games like recode and harizon are good, and sell well.06/30/2015 - 11:38pm
Andrew EisenLuckily, money people also like to follow trends. So, it's a "simple" matter of making proper representation a trend. And wouldn't you know it, we're seeing the beginnings of exactly that!06/30/2015 - 11:34pm
Andrew EisenBut yeah, money people are risk averse. That's why we see so many sequels, reboots, and adaptations. To a lot of money people, "there's no evidence this works because it's rarely ever been tried" is the same as "this doesn't work."06/30/2015 - 11:33pm
Andrew EisenThat's why I think it's worth convincing the money peoples that proper representation (in any of its forms) isn't a financial risk, it's the path to expanding your audience and making even MORE money!06/30/2015 - 11:32pm
 

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