I was reading an article, “Real-World Issues Plague Second Life” in the Jan 07 Omma. The thrust of the article was this: Now that real-world money can be made in Second Life, real-world theft is occuring in that virtual world.
This surprises them?
I know several sociologists and anthropologists who are following the Second Life saga and have been for several internet years now. The fact that virtual theft is occuring for real world gains should only surprise people in that it took so long to manifest. Real-world people have been spending real-world money in the virtual world for quite some time. Gamers and online game designers know this quite well.
Any time a society forms and that society creates an exchange system (an economy) there will be individuals who seek ways to exploit that exchange system in ways we accept and ways we don’t. When I write “we” I mean “the majority”. The funny thing is, theft, whether virtual or real, can’t exist unless “we” accept it in some way, shape or form. No act, either for or against the common good, can exist unless the majority allows it to exist.
But here’s the rub, I think. Virtual crimes will grow as long as real world gains can be had by them. When the real world gains become great enough and easy enough to acquire, virtual crimes will spill over directly into the real world because a real world criminal subculture — a support network — will arise to facilitate virtual world criminality. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
As a final note, did you notice that I never used “reality” in this post? The lines are blurring, don’t you think?
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