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When Is a Con Not a Con? 441

Posted by Hemos
from the ethical-dilemmas-of-modern-life dept.
From the journals, here's some food for thought: Does a "crime" committed in an alternate world have any ramifications in the "real" world? Case in point is this article from the Gamers With Jobs site outlining the exploits of one Dentara Rask, a character in CCP's Eve Online massively multiplayer online world. According to the the article, Dentara Rask ran a Ponzi scheme within the game, amassing a large amount of on-line wealth (700 billion ISK), and then bragging about it. The question is posed: since a Ponzi scheme in real life is a punishable criminal offense, what about when it happens in a MMORPG? Assuming there are no rules within the game environment to prevent this, how would you go about punishing someone in the real world for something they did in an artificial one? And can they be punished?
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When Is a Con Not a Con?

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  • by nosredna (672587) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:05AM (#16037814)
    Trying to get any kind of RL punishment for this would be like calling the cops because somebody stole a stack of $500s during a game of Monopoly.
    • by Ingolfke (515826) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:07AM (#16037828) Journal
      Exactly! Also, if anyone thought about this seriously for a long period of time then you shoudl consider getting professional help. You have lost touch with reality.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209)
        Except these online currencies end up being worth real money, do they not? The market determines an exchange rate to USD, as with any currency. So it could, arguably, be more like stealing the chips from a poker game. As I understand it, Las Vegas doesn't look kindly on that and you can go to jail.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dissman (997434)
          Except in EON, buying or selling EON Currency on EBay is punishable by account banishment.
        • by Znork (31774) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:41AM (#16038056)
          "Except these online currencies end up being worth real money, do they not?"

          No. There is no actual scarcity and no central bank backing the currency, nor any financial controls. The same applies to any items and other 'valuables' in those games; any particular scarcity of any particular item is purely artificial and can be instantly changed at the whim of the company (or any less than honest admin or someone exploiting the game).

          The lack of scarcity based value of course doesnt mean you cant pay to avoid actually playing the game (altho anyone actually paying to not play the game should seriously consider not playing the game for free and doing something else instead).

          "So it could, arguably, be more like stealing the chips from a poker game."

          Casinos back the chips. Most MMORPG's do not back their currencies.
          • by flooey (695860)
            The same applies to any items and other 'valuables' in those games; any particular scarcity of any particular item is purely artificial and can be instantly changed at the whim of the company (or any less than honest admin or someone exploiting the game).

            Isn't the same true for money, to a certain extent? For instance, while it's highly illegal, a banking establishment could simply add money to a computerized account balance. Less trivially but perfectly legally, the United States (or any other country
            • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:21PM (#16038298) Journal
              Isn't the same true for money, to a certain extent? For instance, while it's highly illegal, a banking establishment could simply add money to a computerized account balance. Less trivially but perfectly legally, the United States (or any other country) could decide to print a whole mess of money.

              No. There are rules about this. Money in a bank is real money, usually backed by some government, and limited in supply. If the bank were to just add more money to your account, they would be taking it from someone else. Unless that person (or entity) agreed to them transferring funds from their account(s) to another, that would be larceny. A crime. The U.S. could print more money but usually doesn't as like any precious material, the more of it there is, the less it is worth. This would destabalize economies.

              The point is, unless the crime can spill over into the real world, the so called 'crime' in the computer game is only in the computer game. The only way the crime could spill over into the real world is if the game money had a real world value in term of dollars and not just hurt feelings. Since the game company does not back the game currency in the real world, no harm was done and this wouldn't be a crime. That is how I understand it.

              IANAL

        • by NormalVisual (565491) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:41AM (#16038059)
          As I understand it, Las Vegas doesn't look kindly on that and you can go to jail.

          Because it's not the same thing. When you go into a casino and purchase chips, you and the casino have an understanding that the chips are merely placeholders for real money, and are exchangeable as such within that casino only by the bearer. Thus, if you steal chips from the casino or from another player it's treated the same as if you took actual money, since there was that pre-agreed understanding that the casino will unconditionally buy the chips back at their face value regardless of who presents them. It's rather like stealing a bearer-only check - the check itself is not currency, but it is understood to represent it.

          There is no such understanding regarding currencies in an online game, and the poster that compared it to stealing Monopoly money is exactly correct. The only difference is that there aren't many people willing to pay real money for Monopoly scrip, and thus it has a correspondingly low resale value in the real world. If someone is so wrapped up in some damn game that they're willing to spend real money just to increase their standing, that sounds to me like a problem for a psychiatrist, not the courts.
          • And 'real money' is only a placeholder for the banks to pay the bearer the appropriate amount of gold, and gold is .. good for plating audio jacks because it provides excellent conductivity.. *shrug*

            It's not too strange a concept to spend money on a game, since you have to pay for the game, your net connection etc, but it is really lame and pathetic. If you are substituting your life for the game though, why not spend your money on it? Note that I don't even play MMORPGs (though I did some MUDding for a
      • by MustardMan (52102) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:16AM (#16037883)
        Well, I mostly agree... but... it's not so cut and dry as you make it seem. Think of a game like second life, where in-game money can be directly transferred back and forth for real world money. If someone ran a ponzi scheme in SL, should THAT be punishable with RL rules? Honestly, I haven't decided for myself yet what I think, but I think it's worth discussing where the line should be drawn.
        • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:05PM (#16038204) Homepage
          OK, people are missing some very key pieces of information here.

          - No ISK was stolen from anyone. *ALL* of the ISK belongs to CCP, the company that runs the game. It is bits on their servers and part of the user agreement is all of the in-game objects belong to CCP, not the players, and this is something you therefore must agree to when you play.

          - When you play the game, everyone agrees to play by the rules. One of the rules is that the vast majority of in-game schemes are LEGAL. Player A took a legal action, and as a result of legal action A, the game master (CCP) reallocated the in-game objects from other players to player A. If you were the other players, tough, you played the game, you 'lost'.

          - It is just plain logically silly to accept that players can blow up each other's ships and not accept that players can convince other players to hand over their in-game money. What's the difference? I'm flying around and somebody blows me up, you wouldn't suggest I call up the cops and file a vandalism report would you? So if someone convinces me to give them in-game money, and then doesn't pay me back, that's suddenly a crime?
      • Not quite... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Ruff_ilb (769396)
        The stack of $500's in monopoly has no very little intrinsic value based on labor, because it only takes a couple of bucks to get a whole new stack. Therefore, someone calling the police about a stolen stack of monopoly money is doing it for only sentimental reasons, or no good reasons at all. The amount of labor it takes to get the item outside of the game is much, MUCH, less than it is inside the game.

        HOWEVER, these items in online games have MASSIVE intrinisic value based on labor. If there's only one of
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Opie812 (582663)
          The only reason this stuff is super rare is because some programmer says it is. Why wouldn't you just email the company and tell them you'd been ripped off. All they would need to do is something like: user.add(superRareItem);
          • How about stamps, only reason some of them are rare is that postal services issued or misprinted them or for some other reason. Collectors are wierd breed.
        • Re:Not quite... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Des Herriott (6508) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:38AM (#16038037)
          HOWEVER, these items in online games have MASSIVE intrinisic value based on labor. If there's only one of such item known in existence, and I've put 400 hours into obtaining said item, I can't simply go and pick up another one at the dollar store.

          Yeah, but that's 400 hours that you chose to spend on playing a game to obtain an item with no physical reality. It's rarity is irrelevant. You didn't have to spend that time obtaining said item, and the time you spent is - by definition - leisure time.

          Which is why I doubt that any real-world court is going to offer much sympathy, unless the in-game object can be shown to have direct real-world value (as someone else pointed out, Second Life has an official means of converting in-game money to US Dollars). It's hard to argue that an unofficial black market for virtual items gives them any real-world value in a legal sense if that sort of trading is explicitly banned by the game developers.

          Those 400 hours of my life have massive value, both to me, and in the real world, where it could easily translate to $5000 or more dollars.

          If by that you mean that you could have earned $5000 in those 400 hours that you chose to spend playing a game, I suspect a defense lawyer's response might be "so why didn't you?".
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by thesandtiger (819476)
            Yeah, but that's 400 hours that you chose to spend on playing a game to obtain an item with no physical reality.

            Why should the physical reality of a thing be even remotely relevant here? Lots of things that have no physical reality beyond being a magnetic charge on a HDD platter somewhere are considered EXTREMELY valuable. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of the world's money does not physically exist.

            Let's instead look at how value is created: People agree a thing has value. If lots an
        • Re:Not quite... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by GigsVT (208848) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:38AM (#16038041) Journal
          An assembled cardboard puzzle with 5000 pieces has a high labor value under your definition. Somehow I think it would probably not be treated as a serious offence if someone stole it.
        • Re:Not quite... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:43AM (#16038067) Homepage

          Except for the fact that, you know.... it's not a "super-rare item". It's not an item at all. It's this tiny little bit of data that could be replicated a million times much more easily than the monopoly money could be replicated-- it's only the game developers who are artificially setting the rarity of that data.

          And there's nothing inherently valuable about that data either. You can't justify its worth by labor alone, since it's entirely possible to spend 400 hours on an endeavor that has no intrinsic value whatsoever. Spending 400 hours picking your nose wouldn't make your boogers valuable.

          • There's no difference between "real" money, monopoly money and this "super rare item". They are all bits of data which reside on computers somewhere. They can all be replicated a million times at the press of a key.

            There is NO SUCH THING AS INTRINSIC VALUE. There is only supply and demand, this applies to "real" money just as much as it applies to monopoly money and "super rare items".

             
        • by gsn (989808)
          Thats crazy - nonody asked you to spend 400 hrs online accquiring that online item - you chose to put in the effort and played by the rules of the game world and got it - good for you. If that item was "stealable" even after you won in that is a rule of the game world and if it got stolen maybe you ought to have done more to protect it - you presumably leveled up a fair bit in the quest.

          Otherwise, next time pick a game world that protects your 400 hrs worth of hard questing. Can't find one - too bad no one
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rbochan (827946)
          I can't simply go and pick up another one at the dollar store.


          Oh, but you can [ebay.com]...

        • If I dig a hole, and it takes me 2 hours, how much is the hole worth?

          If I refill the hole, and dig it again, putting in twice as much labor, is the hole now worth twice as much?
        • by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:11PM (#16038240) Homepage
          HOWEVER, these items in online games have MASSIVE intrinisic value based on labor.
          Marxist claptrap. The labor theory of value is a load of horseshit concocted by political philosophers with no appreciation for the reality of economics. A thing has no value beyond what someone is willing to pay for it. You could spend 400 hours making carefully formed and wrapped sewage popsicles, but they aren't worth $5000. Besides, the labor theory of value requires an outside authority to set the value of your labor, and in this case, CCP has already declared (via TOS) that your work is not exchangeable for money and therefore is worth nothing.
    • by Ours (596171) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:23AM (#16037933)
      Damn right. Next thing they'll talk about puting in prison people who shoot each other in the game. Hey, murder is illegal isn't? Then why would a virtual scam be any different?
      • by ArsonSmith (13997)
        How about this diffrence, A virtual murder no one is actually killed. Quite often a virtual scam, real money can be lost.

        Just something to think about.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fhmiv (740648)
      You're probably right about the first claim --- it isn't interesting that someone "cheated" in an online game and amassed an in-game fortune. However, the second claim IS interesting. These ISK's can be exchanged for legal tender, and in the USA, that is called Income and is subject to taxation.

      Law enforcement and the IRS would be uninterested in me stealing $500 worth of Monopoly money because there is no exchange for Monopoly money to US Dollars or any other legal tender. This issue could be different.

      • by Andy Dodd (701)
        "These ISK's can be exchanged for legal tender, and in the USA, that is called Income and is subject to taxation."

        It's surely called something else (I'm not sure exactly where it would fall within the legal system) when the exchange of that ISK for cash is forbidden by contract (the game's EULA).

        I am sure CCP is watching Dentara Rast closely. For now, they are allowing the theft to go forward, as it does not violate the rules of the game.

        If Dentara wishes to, he can buy a lifetime's worth of game time card
    • the exchange rates make 700 billion isk to be more than $100,000 [1]. from a replacement currency pack, 23 500-monopoly bills cost 4 dollars [2] (not to mention wasteage from having excess other currency). this would be like using social engineering to steal the high-value paper money from 25,000 boards, yielding almost 600,000 bills worth 300 million monopoly dollars. That's a few hotels, or 3000 m^2 of money. [3]

      1. http://www.gamepal.com/buycurrency.php?gameid=15&g ame=eve&serverid=79&x=28 [gamepal.com]
    • No, it is not the same.

      When you bought your Monopoly game, it came in a box. The game probably takes only a couple hours to play, max. The real paper money has little or no value. When someone steals a quarter, do you call the cops? $1? $5? Probably not.

      However, money in an MMO often takes effort to earn. So does Monopoly money, but that's easy come, easy go -- gone at the end of the game, in fact. MMO money can involve a huge amount of investment of real time, and it's persistant and digital.

      In oth
    • by swelke (252267)
      A good point. If we're to punish confidence schemes, then haven't most MMORPG players committed "murder"? Surely that's a worse crime than mere theft.
  • Should you also be able to sue Quake 3 players for murder? hmm?
  • by Big Nothing (229456) <big.nothing@bigger.com> on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:07AM (#16037827)
    If crimes committed in a game could be punished in real life, I'd be serving life sentence for mass-murder.

    • If crimes committed in real life could be punished in a game, I'd be ... oh wait.
    • by arivanov (12034)
      This also means that any nethack player would get a life sentence for poaching rare and endangered animals, eating them, feeding his pets with them, performing lewd and indecent acts with the aforementioned indecent animals and being otherwise deviant from the norm.

      Now... where did that succubus go... Definitely worth trying to shag another experience level out of it before killing it.
  • When it's part of the game. If I body-slammed someone on the street, I'd be heading to jail. If I do it on a football field, it's good play.

    • by Ruff_ilb (769396)
      Conning people ISN'T legal in the game - it's not a part of it at all.

      In no MMO I've ever played was it OK to exploit game mechanics, or even misinform people to get a better deal.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by flooey (695860)
        In no MMO I've ever played was it OK to exploit game mechanics, or even misinform people to get a better deal.

        I believe that in EVE Online, it's perfectly fine to con people in this manner. It's not okay to exploit game mechanics to do so, but convincing them that their money really belongs with you is within the rules of the game.
        • by Ruff_ilb (769396)
          Interesting. Well, I stand corrected.

          In most games, however, this isn't standard practice, and with EVE it's a moot point, because you know what's allowed in the game by the time you have enough resources to make them worthwhile.
  • by EXMSFT (935404) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:08AM (#16037834)
    With few exceptions, games generally exist to provide an alternate reality. Enforcing laws from the real world into a virtual world would seem to render the whole point of the game moot. If the game's authors want to enforce certain aspects of normally accepted culture or law into the game, it would seem they would do so.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Premo_Maggot (864012)
      But Eve-Online does have a legal system. You can't attack someone without taking on the reprecussions yourself (the police blowing up your ship).
  • by oohshiny (998054) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:08AM (#16037836)
    He violated the rules of a game. If the game is part of legal gambling, then that may be a crime. But this is presumably not a gambling operation. So, if it's not a gambling operation, then violating the rules is roughly like cheating at Scrabble or Monopoly.

    In any case, the appropriate punishment for virtual fraud is to demand virtual restitution from the virtual character and put the virtual character into virtual prison. That is, unless the virtual world is supposed to be lawless or anarchic, in which case he did exactly what he was supposed to.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rpj1288 (698823)
      The cardinal rule of EVE is this: let the buyer beware.
    • by Idaho (12907) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:35AM (#16038020)
      He violated the rules of a game.

      No, he didn't. As others also pointed out, there is nothing in the Eve Online EULA or in the game mechanics that forbids what this guy has done. There is no "exploiting" of bugs or broken game mechanics going on here. "Exploiting" of stupid people, sure, but that's a different matter.

      What *is* explicitly forbidden by the EULA however, is converting in-game money to real money. That is a bannable offense.
  • wtf? (Score:5, Informative)

    by xophos (517934) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:08AM (#16037837)
    It`s a game. And the scam was clearly inside the rules of the game. So i see no need for discussion here.
  • by MrShaggy (683273)
    Would this become a bi-mon-non-sci-con?
  • by MadMoses (151207) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:10AM (#16037843) Homepage
    In-game crime => in-game punishment by in-game law enforcement.

    Or in-game death by angry mob or assassin.
  • Assuming there are no rules within the game environment to prevent this

    This falls within the realm of a wholly contained artificial environment. It is up to the owners (or creators, or maintainers, or what have you) of that environment to set up "legal" codes to deal with situations like this. It has happened in Everquest, it has happened in World of Warcraft, and I'm sure that given enough abuse, it will happen in the EVE universe as well.

    For the record, there used to be a vast number of "casino" sca

  • As many readers pointed out, his crime was only inside the game, and had nothing to do with real life. I expect the game developers can suspend his account, seeing as it is almost certainly in their Terms of Service.
    • by Andy Dodd (701)
      As long as Dentara does not try to sell any of the ISK for real life money, this goes forward without any intervention by CCP. What Dentara did sucks, but as it was done without any exploiting of game mechanics, it is 100% legit as far as CCP rules go, as long as that ISK either stays within the game or is used only to buy game time cards.
  • by _xeno_ (155264) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:14AM (#16037872) Homepage Journal

    Does it violate the rules of the game? After all, no one gets upset about the mass murder and genocide that occurs routinely on PvP servers in WoW. It's part of the game.

    Assuming there are no rules within the game environment to prevent this, how would you go about punishing someone in the real world for something they did in an artificial one?

    There's a difference, though. There are rules in the real world saying that something is illegal. There are no rules about it in the game world. Piracy is illegal in the real world. (I'm talking about the "arr matey!" kind, not the "RIAA" kind.) But it's permitted in the game world of EVE. Should the pirates be brought to criminal court of piracy in the spaces of EVE?

    This story is just ridiculously stupid. It's a game. Only the game's rules apply. Whatever the rules set out by those who run the game are the only rules that matter.

    Get conned while playing a game? Learn from it and just be glad it wasn't real.

  • You kill the character. Isn't that half the point of mmorpgs?

     
  • If I could somehow do a scam and then transfer these winnings into tangible good / money. i.e. say via ebay then I would consider it to be a "real crime". If it is just money only used in the game then its down to the game designers / users to sort out appropriate punishment. Prehaps it could be argued that as ingame characters get better AI could the real world user be accused of murder, though that of course is another can of worms

    • by E++99 (880734)
      If I could somehow do a scam and then transfer these winnings into tangible good / money. i.e. say via ebay then I would consider it to be a "real crime".
      Except that scams are part of the game, so he would just be someone who did well in the game, not guilty of any crime. Besides, as the article points out (then apparently disregards), all in-game assets remain property of the game company, so you couldn't legally sell game money for real money.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:19AM (#16037904) Journal
    When its Gencon.
  • I believe that, when the State of Israel had its first criminals, Ben-Gurion was actually pleased because it meant that Israel was becoming a real country, not just a club of highly educated idealists. In the same way, this is perhaps a sign of the growing capability of games. (Though please note I am not in any way comparing Israel to role playing games...)
  • Duh! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@nOSPAM.beau.org> on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:23AM (#16037931)
    Listen up folks, it is a GAME WORLD. Nothing you do there should subject you to any sort of sanction in the real one. The whole point is to be able to do things you can't do in reality. After all, in the real world you can't kill people, heck you can't even kill most things. In most games though you wade hip deep in gore. If the game system doesn't provide a 'fix' then exploiting it is just good play according to the rules of the game world.
    Playing for hundreds of hours doing the grind is only one path to success, it is perfectly fair to play smarter, instead of harder. To realize that the in game obstacles might be hard but the stupidity of players is a constant and can be exploited a lot easier. And some people like the interraction with real people more than the challenges placed by the designers.

    Running a Ponzi scheme depends on a steady supply of idiots, something no rule in a game is likely to dry up the supply of. Face it, they should be legal in the REAL world so long as the financials are fully disclosed. It is the fraud (like the US Social Security system) that makes any real world Ponzi scheme immoral. Run it out in the open and any person with a few brain cells still functioning would instantly see it for the scam it is and as for the others... it is immoral to let a sucker keep his money after all.
  • No Punishment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JumperCable (673155) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:23AM (#16037936)
    Hopefully people learn things in games. Like how not to get swindled. I think they learned a cheep lesson.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:24AM (#16037941) Homepage Journal
    I mean, seriously how did the "investors" in this bank think that this was legit? Real banks make their money primarily from loans, ie they collect money from savers and loan it out to others at a higher interest rate. However, banks have a lot of legal means to collect on debts. The bank also usually takes collateral.

    A video game bank not run by any central authority doesn't have that power. So suppose they did try to make a legit business out of lending others money. How could they collect? I guess they could take some equipment as 'collateral" but if a player is taking the loan out to buy better equipment what is to prevent that player from reneging on the debts? He no longer needs that old equipment. And there certainly aren't repo men in the game who can take back the property for you(I guess you could destroy it, but you don't gain much). I suppose they could resort to mob style "break your thumbs" type tactics, but they would have to be a powerful player or a player with lots of allies to even do that. Plus, I don't exactly trust "Mob Savings and Loan".

    So what on earth did the players who gave this person money think he was going to do with it? 10% no risk returns don 't exist in the real world(well, aside from hyperinflationary periods at any rate), so it should have been pretty obvious to anyone with half a clue what this guy was up to. Another greedy rube got fleeced(virtually at any rate). Boohoo
  • If he used illegal-in-the-real-world techniques to defraud people of "goods or services" such as game gold that had a real-world value > 0, or > whatever the legal cutoff is for fraud, then you can go after him in the real world. Otherwise, you can't.

    If the law says you can only prosecute or sue if the fraud is > $50, and the gold he obtained by fraud sells on eBay for $49 or less, or has no market value, he's off the hook.

    Here's an idea:
    Get a few hundred gamers out there to declare a vendetta on
  • This whine could equally be called 'do violent games cause people to commit real world violent acts?'. For the most part /. would say no, yet I suspect we will get a number o greedy people who say 'that's not fair'.

    Games are a useful way for us to simulate life. For the young it teaches rules and basic social skills. For the teen it can be a good way to learn advance socialization. And for the older people, the working gamer for instance, it can teach that greed can lead to ones downfall, and nothing

  • Dear God, I hope not. If so, you could be arrested in the "real world" just for printing more Monopoly money [hasbro.com].

    This is the most idiotic thing I've heard about in a long time.
  • Boba style (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvilXTC (920051) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:29AM (#16037974)
    The best way to deal with something like this is to pretend that it is real (in game of course) and deal with it the way that the game world would. How about bounty hunting? How about military/mafia recruiting players to hunt him down? Keep it a game. If people fall for a scam in a game, get back at him in the game. Don't suspend his account. That's just lame. I'm sure that not many people would continue to risk their characters' well being and those that do have it coming. Also, I think that would make an interesting off shoot for people on level a billion and have nothing better to do than start a war; new game content dynamically created.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd (701)
      That's basically what is happening, and in fact Dentara is ENCOURAGING it.

      Dentara put a 1 billion ISK bounty on himself, bought a top-end ship with top-end gear (another 500mill to 1bill), and started PvPing with it, AND told everyone he was doing so (although not where).

      Note that Dentara is not necessarily that good at PvP - I've heard he's gone boom quite a bit already. That money is already being distributed to those who kill him and those who sell high end gear on the market.
    • by mihalis (28146)

      The best way to deal with something like this is to pretend that it is real (in game of course) and deal with it the way that the game world would. How about bounty hunting? How about military/mafia recruiting players to hunt him down? Keep it a game. If people fall for a scam in a game, get back at him in the game. Don't suspend his account. That's just lame. I'm sure that not many people would continue to risk their characters' well being and those that do have it coming.

      Agreed. Here's an account of a

  • It solely depends on the game reglementation. The game world is sovereign and belongs to the mmporg creators thus they can enforce any law they wish on it.
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:32AM (#16037996)
    MMORPG's are in fact actual economy units governed by their own rules.

    Asking whether game crime should be punishable in real world is like asking whether crime comitted in Belgium should be punished in Australia.

    The game developers have ultimate power over their world. If they want to confiscate those 700mln ISK (whatever the hell ISK is) they can do it with a mouse click, a lot easier than in "real world".

    If game developers want to cooperate with police for creating "interworld" laws that apply in there and give a specialized institution the jurisdiction to enforce those in a game then ok.

    It's not up to the government or whoever to mess into the games' internal affairs however. It's not a lot better than invading an actual country.

    Yes you can convert virtual assets to real, but I can convert dollars to euros as well, this doesn't mean that US should mess into EU's business.
  • It's a GAME.

    And, in a game, "normal" rules don't apply. Neither the "Law of Gravity", or "Thou shalt not Kill".

    Take Grand Theft Auto.

    Anyway, in this game, a Ponzi scheme was possible. And that was exploited. In chess, "en passant capture" can be exploited -- even though some players are not aware of its existence.

    If some players feel "cheated", don't play. This will apply pressure to have the rules modified. As to "real world consequence"? Exactly HOW "politically correct" are you? Are you going to regulate
  • Next time you kill a cop in GTA, you are punished for murder in real life. Get a life!
  • IANAL, but it would seem that the defrauded parties could always try to take the person to civil court. For better or worse, you can sue over anything.

    Of course, if you can argue that losses in the game have a real-world monetary counterpart, then any gains in that world would seem to have a real world monetary counterpart. That gets the IRS involved with issues of income tax on gains in the game.

    If game gains are taxable, then perhaps they can get the Ponzi scheme operator on tax evasion -- it worked wit
  • by DesireCampbell (923687) <desire.c@gmail.com> on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:39AM (#16038042) Homepage
    From the journals, here's some food for thought: Does a "crime" committed in an alternate world have any ramifications in the "real" world?
    Maybe.

    Case in point is this article from the Gamers With Jobs site outlining the exploits of one Dentara Rask, a character in CCP's Eve Online massively multiplayer online world. According to the the article, Dentara Rask ran a Ponzi scheme within the game, amassing a large amount of on-line wealth (700 billion ISK), and then bragging about it. The question is posed: since a Ponzi scheme in real life is a punishable criminal offense, what about when it happens in a MMORPG?
    Um... nothing? Murder is a punishable criminal offense in real life, but we don't dream of prosecuting people for doing it in a game.

    Assuming there are no rules within the game environment to prevent this, how would you go about punishing someone in the real world for something they did in an artificial one?
    You wouldn't. It's stupid to try and hold someone responsible for what they did in a video game. Again, how many of us would be in jail right now for all the people we've killed in video games?

    And can they be punished?
    Well, legally we can't. But there are people in Guantanamo Bay with less proof of having committed a crime.

  • by forgotten_my_nick (802929) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:43AM (#16038076)
    Generally any kind of scam in game works against the player. Especially in Eve.

    For example most players won't deal with people under a certain number of skill points as the points are created over time (not gametime). This means players with lots of money generally have to have the skills to show they are a legtimate character and not someones ALT.

    It is possible to create an ALT by just buying a second account but it costs money. You also tend to leave a trail unless you have been planning this for sometime.

    This is the third biggest Scam I have seen (I'll let someone supply the links).

    Search for "A Great Scam by Nightfreeze"
    1. Scammed loads of money out of people by pretending to buy a blueprint. The overall scam itself was brilliantly done and the guys where asses for doing it but at the end his friend got greedy and the leader of the scam deleted his character (after giving the cash to some newbie).

    http://www.mmodig.com/?p=155 [mmodig.com]
    2. I don't know what caused this to happen but it was a paid hit. The person was killed, and thier corporation looted on a scale not seen since Enron.

    So in the end you should be dealt with in game. I have seen other players steal from corps only to have thier clones turned into corpses scattered through the system to the point they have to quit the game.

    If anything this is really a learning experience for players. Would you prefer to be scammed out of virtual cash or real cash? Remember that next time you need the wallet inspectors in game.
  • when it's a chille-con-carne?

    Then it's yummy. What article?
  • 'nuff said.
  • Someone should tell that to the US Government [ssa.gov]. Maybe I can get my senator and congressperson arrested. If I set up a program where you got paied by 10 other people who had the "promise" of getting paied later on, I'd get arreseted.

    Anyway, if our government can't be fiscally responsible (or even fiscally ethical) in its programs, how can it expect to have moral authority over real life financial scams, much less ones in video games?

  • by MORB (793798) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:52AM (#16038110)
    EVE is a PvP game where players are pitted against each others. Unlike most other MMOs, however, it goes way beyond killing each others.

    CCP made a lot of efforts to setup complex and realistics economics in their game for the sole purpose of making all kind of swindling possible.

    People ripping each others of money, corporate politics, corporate spying, economic war, thief, and of course murder are possible and encouraged in EVE. The whole game is built to enable these things to occur, and it's what people playing that game seek.

    So why on earth should it be punished? You can't complain about getting conned in EVE anymore that you can complain about getting slaughtered in UT2004, because it's the reason why you play the game in the first place.
  • Yes, people can be "punished" for this, in civil court. Once could sue based upon personal distress, as well as a few other things. It is not a _criminal_ matter, but considering that in-game commodities are gained through personal labour, one could sue.

    1) Someone mentioned that stealing monopoly money is not a crime. Yes, it is. It is theft. Yes, the outcome in a court case would be tiny for that theft.
    2) someone mentioned that taking a puzzle after it was assembled would not be a crime. Yes, it woul
  • by MrNaz (730548) * on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:56AM (#16038133) Homepage
    A mage threw a fireball that was created in his hands from thin air. He is currently serving time on back to back offences against the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

    In related news, a druid violated the law of conservation of mass by morphing into a 300lb bear and gryphon rider violated the laws of gravity by actually making some big fat retarded looking rat with no hair fly. These two individuals remain at large, and should be regarded as dangerous. If you see them please call the "I'm an idiot for applying the rules of reality to necessarily fictional games" hotline.

    Down with in-game violators of the law!
  • So, would you start to change Player Killers with murder?

    That's absurd.

    Game crimes require game punishments...But, a ponzi scheme, don't these people watch "real world" news once in a while?

  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:15PM (#16038255) Homepage
    Did you know that in this game you can also kill people???? Won't someone think of the children??? If it is legal in the physical world to "kill" someone in the game, then why would it be illegal in the physical world to steal "money" that has no official worth in the physical world? It may be a violation of terms of service punishable by banning, but it certainly doesn't seem like an offense that should be prosecuted by any government in the offline world.

    From what little I know, this type of activity seems par for the course in Eve online. I remember reading about an event that occured last year [blogcritics.org] where a group infiltrated another group [klaki.net] and basically acted as undercover agents. They got into the highest ranks of the group then killed the CEO, destroyed ships and took over some assets.

    Call me crazy, but that sounded pretty cool to me. It sounded much cooler than any scripted or planned event I've heard about in any other online game. So does this latest event. If you have created a game where the players can create such interesting events rather than have to artificially create them, it sounds like you've done something right.
  • by Asmor (775910) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:16PM (#16038265) Homepage
    Simple question: Do you think that virtual income, ISK, gold, etc, should be taxed? If not, then there should be no punishment for this other than what the game developers decide to do.

    Fuck, this is supposed to be one of the draws of EVE! It's a game where the devs don't hold your hand and baby you! Anything can happen.
  • Ridiculous! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dcs (42578) on Monday September 04, 2006 @04:06PM (#16039485)
    Is there anything in the game against a guy playing an evil mastermind of crime? Hey, guys, you don't mind going around killing orcs or whatever, but you do mind when something happens to YOU? Ok, it was something that REALLY sucked, and, guess what? You *let* yourself be sucked, by the rules of the game. It's a GAME, and you LOST.

    You feel cheated? Did the guy use some kind of software to take illegal advantage in-game? Did he use exploits in the game? Did he do anything except play by the rules of the game? If he didn't, guess what?, he didn't cheat. He deceived all of you fair and square. Furthermore, I bet there were plenty people advising against putting your money there because there was no guarantees.

    Next, whiny boys will start complaining to the FBI that they were killed on Counter Strike. Multiple times. With head shots.

  • Ridiculous (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FurryFeet (562847) <joudanx@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @10:51AM (#16044556)
    And PKs should be prosecuted for murder! Yeah, that's the ticket!

    To whoever posited this, please, step away from the keyboard and try to get hold of a life. A real one.

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