Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Gasoline for the Fire - Virtual Rape

Here's some gasoline for the virtual fire of online discussion: Virtual rape. What first struck me about this was that this is a form of assault where strength, size, gender are all irrelevant and it is only about someone using superior intellectual skill in a narrow area (computer use / programming) to "assault" someone else. So a four foot tall twelve year old girl could potentially "virtually rape" a six foot six three hundred pound linebacker.

As far as criminalizing it as if it were rape, well, I think that makes about as much sense as criminalizing killing someone's character in an online game like it was murder. And since it is a virtual world, not the real world, it lends itself to a business solution - if stuff like that happens and people don't like it, they can opt out of the world and spend their money elsewhere, so the owners of the site have an interest in making their customers happy or else they'll lose them.

I played an online game years ago, Ultima Online. There were lots of problems there with issues of murder and theft - i.e. players killing you when you left the "safe" towns and taking all of your stuff, to the point where it just wasn't worth it to leave town anymore. That was a big reason I just stopped playing it. Newer online games have things in place to prevent that sort of thing from happening and they are prospering.

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