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Crime Australia Games

Examining Virtual Crimes 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the too-much-time-on-your-hands dept.
GamePolitics has an article about a research paper issued by the AU government's Institute of Criminology titled "Crime Risks of Three-Dimensional Virtual Environments." The paper discusses the legal questions raised by game worlds and avatars, ranging from regulation of in-game currency to a report of virtual rape. "A person controlling an avatar that is unexpectedly raped or assaulted might experience the physical reaction of 'freezing,' or the associated shock, distrust and loss of confidence in using [3D virtual environments]. 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. However, Australian federal criminal law imposes a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment for using an internet carriage service to 'menace, harass or cause offence' to another user. Further, US and Australian laws ban simulated or actual depictions of child abuse and pornography. Therefore, any representations of child avatars involved in virtual sexual activity, torture or physical abuse are prohibited, regardless of whether the real-world user is an adult or child."
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Examining Virtual Crimes

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  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Entropy98 (1340659) on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:47AM (#31282152) Homepage

    Tea Bagging in a FPS could get u 3 years?

    I find it dumb, immature, and annoying, but like most times someone says "There ought to be a law", there ought not to be.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jo42 (227475)

      You'd think the Ozzies, that are usually portrayed as a rough and tough bunch, are being such a bunch of limp wristed mamby pambies when it comes to all this online stuff. Would like to hear what the Ozzies think of their fascist government on this subject.

      • Most Ozzies I know (especially the non-native transplants) seem to love their government. I've yet to figure out why.

        • you cant know too many aussies who can still lay claim to being properly aussie. most with technical knowledge who still live in Oz are disgusted at what the government is trying to do regarding the internet and technology..
        • Re:So... (Score:4, Informative)

          by TapeCutter (624760) * on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:56AM (#31282444) Journal
          Where the hell did you get that idea? Most of us ignore them as best we can. This is summed up by the popular saying "Don't vote, it only encourages the bastards." Those that aren't ignoring them are taking the piss out of them [youtube.com].
          • Lots of politicians do this stuff. Turn full-force against some virtual, pointless "cause" that won't bring any real opposition, so it's easy, yet scares lots of voters with silly issues, so pleases them that "someone is doing something". It's the same as railing againt immigrants, movie or tv violence, or "crime", "communists", or "terrorists". There will be no real useful work done for anyone, but will get attention and votes, and since the opposition is voiceless, powerless, very distant or inexistent
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              If I was a politician I'd do the exact opposite, and work to eliminate bad laws and then brag about it: "Good news! The law that would have arrested you for kissing a black person (or vice-versa white person) no longer exists. I killed it." Or: "You can put $100 more in your bank account this year. The War of 1898 tax has finally been repealed." Or: "You no longer need fear being arrested because you grow a natural plant in your backyard. The marijuana prohibition has been lifted, although it will

            • The issue of mandatory filters in Oz is a good cop, bad cop routine to neuter religious zealots who occasionally hold the balance of power in the senate. The endless inquiries are indeed intended to give the impression of "doing something". Thes inquiries have been going on now for at least a decade regardless of who is in power and IMHO will never come into force. The current independent senator who's votes this legislation was intended to buy has gone cold on the idea since his own anti-abortion sponsers
        • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Smirker (695167) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:58AM (#31282448)
          I'm an Aussie and most of the people I know dislike the current government and are against laws such as

          Australian federal criminal law imposes a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment for using an internet carriage service to 'menace, harass or cause offence' to another user.

          We think that ruling cartoon depictions of child pornography illegal is plain stupid, and are against Internet filtering. Our far left Labor government completely ignores the people (ETS, NBN anyone?), and instead tries to protect them against their will or by the will of a small minority. They also put too much weight on the voice of parents who think that the protection of their children supersedes the right of society's freedom, when if they didn't they would loose their precious votes in our extremely tight federal elections. It's in shambles and is completely bs.

        • our government here in australia is completely clueless in areas of technology, but i still think a lot of the general population just don't care.. anyway hopefully they get kicked out in next election (please! some good alternatives!)...and stop wasting our money on the completely pointless NBN hopefully i didn't offend anyone, hate to go to prison for this comment.. on 2nd thoughts they're probably more likely to apply a filter excluding all content with keywords "government", "australia" and "waste"
    • by pcolaman (1208838)

      *Sneaks up behind you and stabs you in the back (virtually)*

      *Runs away, knowing he will be pursued by the virtual law*

      That is all...carry on.

    • Tea Bagging in a FPS could get u 3 years?

      Get your virtual character 3 virtual years in a virtual jail, which of course you can try to virtually break out of.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by h00manist (800926)
      I'm for a one-law constitution. Absolutely no violence against human beings. Violence against other things is also discouraged, but less so. Everything else is legal. Society will have to learn to define for itself what is violence, what is human, and not. That debate is not simplistic and bite-sized for the attention-grabbing media, politicians, or the poor people attempting to learn something from the entertainment-gossip-*news*. You will need some scholars. And engaging in violence won't get you sent
      • by MarkvW (1037596)

        The world resulting from your 'one law' would be brutally violent. The only way you could enforce the 'one law' would be with police--and there would be a lot of pissed off people angry because somebody took their stuff (legally, in a 'one law' world). You'd need taxes to pay the police--but you couldn't enforce the tax collection law (in a 'one law' world). Violence would go unchecked.

        BTW: Good luck in fifth grade next year.

    • by Syberz (1170343)

      Would fragging an opponent in a FPS deathmatch get you 25 to life as well?

      If you get a streak of frags does that make you a serial murderer?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Idiomatick (976696)
      I am more curious what happens if you teabag an npc. Technically its e-rape still.
  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:51AM (#31282168)
    What game engine supports rape? World of Sex Crimes? Everrape?
    • by savanik (1090193)

      Second Life. Except both parties have to click on the little ball labelled 'RAPE POSE', so...

      • In SL:
        It used to be possible to trick an avatar to "consent" to being animated. Longer ago... there was this nasty object
        called a "skull fucker" that would allow the assailant to simulate a "Skull Fuck" without the victim's consent.

        There are still WAY more options for wanna-be greifers in SL than any other platform on the market. Many more have been nerfed. And a huge number of accounts and even entire groups have been banned over the years.

        In WoW I get a kick out of the "after-school-special" kids who

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Without reading TFA, the usual citation for virtual rape is a case from years and years ago on a text-based game called LambdaMOO. A particularly asinine user wrote a puppet that was, yes, used to rape people. Exactly how and why people manage to associate with MU* characters so strongly that they can actually be emotionally harmed by this sort of thing is beyond me, and I've spent years on them!

      • I agree - and it's an insult to people who have experience such horrific crimes.

        A virtual crime is a crime that happens in a virtual envirnoment - e.g., fraud. Things like harrassment can also constitute crimes, but the crime is still harrassment, and not "rape". This is nothing new - did people refer to dodgy phone callers as "virtual rapists"?

        A depiction of a crime is not a virtual crime. By that logic, films show "virtual murders", and when they media report on crimes, they should also be guilty of commi

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          And fraud is still fraud, regardless of using a virtual environment, telephone, mailed letter or used car salesman.

          Virtual crimes do not really exist. That is the meaning of virtual. The idea that you can get tried and convicted of crimes that do not really exist is horrific.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What game engine supports rape? World of Sex Crimes? Everrape?

      It all depends on how the rape procedes really. If you want your faith in humanity thoroughly but gently violated there's WoW. If you want your star wars related hopes and dreams mercilessly skullfucked there's SWG.

      Or if you want to just skip the gameplay and get straight to plain old fashioned sexual raping, you can sample half the programs coming from Japan.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My first experience of Second Life involved my avatar being dryhumped by some 'naked perv' avatar on noob island. The person even had modeled a penis for their avatar oh and a bowler hat. It was very odd. Sad really.

    • Can you show me on this doll where he said that he was touching your avatar?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nuckfuts (690967)

      The article describes a 1993 incident where a female player was "raped" in a text-based multiplayer game, where

      the harm involved 'a real-time non-consensual textual description of the rape' through 'the display of graphic and offensive sentences'

    • Any virtual environment or even chat systems support virtual rape by way of emotes. The article even cites a rape case that took place in a text-based MMO.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by amRadioHed (463061)

        Any virtual environment or even chat systems support virtual rape by way of emotes

        No, no they don't. There's a reason why you can be sued for sexual harassment at work for saying something obscene but you can't be sued for rape for something you say. Words can be hurtful, but they can't be rape.

        • > There's a reason why you can be sued for sexual harassment at work for
          > saying something obscene...

          It's your employer who can be sued.

      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        If that counts as virtual "rape", then the article is guilty of a crime too, as by citing it, it also depicts the crime "virtually".

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      Halo.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by syousef (465911)

      What game engine supports rape? World of Sex Crimes? Everrape?

      Evony, judging by the ads.

    • What game engine supports rape?

      Hell, never mind rape, what about murder? Apparently murder is encouraged in many of these 3D games, and yet goes almost completely unpunished! We need some virtual law and order.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        As a longtime Fallout 3 serial killer, I ain't afraid of no cops. Let's see them take me in when I'm holding a loaded Fat Man!
    • by h00manist (800926)
      Isn't there a game called "Australia"? There's like an island with a society made up of criminals? Then they form a government and an army?
  • I'm in UR jail, doin UR time
  • What if the objective of the RPG is to rape, steal and harass?
  • So I guess GTA (from original on up) should cause you to have to do time for grand theft of an automobile, drug dealing and cop killing? Absolute balderdash.

  • Seriously? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:07AM (#31282258)

    ranging from regulation of in-game currency to a report of virtual rape.

    Really? Every time I think we have rock bottom with the sheer scope of fucking mentally challenged concepts in government, they continue to amaze me with how much deeper than can go.

    Reminds me of Eddie Murphy in the Golden Child when he flips a coin down into the darkness. "Hey! They're ain't no ground here".

    It's fucking virtual with real world consequences.

    Well then I want to prosecute those douchebag lawmakers. They virtually "blew my mind" on the Internet. Where's my commercial saying I got a 1 million dollars?

  • WTF, if you're an online player, and haven't at some point been gang-banged by a bunch of Uruks, you haven't been around. Get a grip.

  • You've got to be kidding me, right? Some idiot somewhere in the legal system really needs to get a grip on reality.

  • So maybe reprehensible in .au and .us, but what if the victim is there but the perp is in some other country where the legislator thinks rape is not so bad in First Life and/or doesn't even have Internet ?

    Sue the game company, of course.

  • shame (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    i am ashamed to be an Ozzie soon they will legislate thought crime.......

  • by Anonymous Coward
    US law does not ban simulated child pornography. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashcroft_v._Free_Speech_Coalition [wikipedia.org]
    • by general_re (8883)

      US law does not ban simulated child pornography. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashcroft_v._Free_Speech_Coalition [wikipedia.org]

      Yes it does - "PROTECT Act" (2003):

      The PROTECT Act includes prohibitions against illustrations depicting child pornography, including computer-generated illustrations, also known as virtual child pornography.[1][2][4] Provisions against virtual child pornography in the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 had been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002. However, the provisions of the Protect Act are distinct, since they establish the requirement of showing obscenity as defined by the Miller Test, which was not an element of the 1996 law.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_Act_of_2003 [wikipedia.org]

  • So I guess all of this behavior is perfectly fine in 2d virtual worlds, or textual virtual worlds.

    • SMAUG Stalkers are the worst you can get!

      Good we can customize appearance ...

      You are 5'6", and weigh 99 pounds. Your long black hair has been drawn back
      into a ponytail behind you. Your faded yellow skin creates a disturbing
      contrast with your black eyes.

      Customize appearance (Y/N)?

  • Further, US ... laws ban simulated ... depictions of child abuse and pornography.

    Uh, not quite. See Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002) [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by general_re (8883)

      Further, US ... laws ban simulated ... depictions of child abuse and pornography.

      Uh, not quite. See Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002) [wikipedia.org].

      Yes, quite. See "PROTECT Act" (2003): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_Act_of_2003 [wikipedia.org] The short version is obscenity can, as always, be prosecuted, and the PROTECT Act remedied the missing element in CPPA, which was the law struck down in Ashcroft, thus once again allowing the prosecution of virtual child pornography found to be obscene.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by J'raxis (248192)

        That's what I meant by "not quite." The law they passed afterward contains the "lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value" phrase oft found in obscenity laws, which makes it almost impossible to prosecute someone.

  • If you are dumb, powerless or too involved to deal with real crime, start fighting virtual crime.
  • What about murder or theft ?

    What if I'm playing an online game and someone attacks and kills my character ? Is that against the law too ? Does it matter that death is not permanent in this particular virtual world ? What if death is a normal part of this particular virtual world (WoW PVP servers for instance)

    What if I have a virtual house in (say) Second Life and someone enters without asking or enters through the window ? Is that virtual break and enter ? What if they steal my stuff ? I have then suf

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ihmhi (1206036)

      What about murder or theft?

      Well, virtual currency is considered equal to real currency [slashdot.org] in South Korea, and a man was arrested [slashdot.org] for virtual robbery in Britain. A Dutch Court [slashdot.org] punished a couple of teenage thieves as well. If I dug deeper I'm sure I could find more stories.

      On a WoW server, a group of mates and myself played highwaymen. One of us would be a scantily clad Dranei, and the others would be hidden near by. Stand and deliver! d:

    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      I'm guessing they chose to cite rape and child ponography because they are emotional issues that people generally hold strong opinions about in the real world.

      With current technology, it is unlikely (but not impossible) that you would find yourself in a situation where you would be as emotionally invested in your avatar where an attack would be personally damaging on an emotional level. As technology improves and people associate more closely with their online representation, it increases the likelyhood tha

      • I imagine you are absolutely correct about people having strong emotional reactions to rape and child pornography. In fact, much more so than murder, the mere mention of the other two crimes can cause an emotional reaction, whereas for most people, the murder needs to be of somebody they know to have the same level of emotional reaction.

        On the other hand, within some games, death is a normal part of the game. In FPS style games, murder is the entire point. In this sense, our expectations are different in

  • Perhaps those who do commit crimes such as theft, murder, rape in games should do time for their crimes. But as these are virtual crimes, it should be the avatar, not the real person who does the time, and they should do so in a virtual prison. If the game designer doesn't have a justice system built into their game, and it bothers you that crimes go unpunished, then you are free not to play their game and to design your own.

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.

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