My avatar made me do it

Online gaming has millions of characters (and the people controlling them) interacting virtually. Some co-operatively and others, not so co-operatively, more like coercively. A Dutch court has imposed real life penalties to a couple of youths who robbed another of his virtual possessions. Have we crossed a boundary between virtual actions and real world consequences?

The case has set a precedent by dishing out punishment for online activity. This raises many questions about avatars, characters, online accounts and virtual crimes. If my character does your character wrong can I be punished in real life? I guess if you can prove that my virtual actions caused you real life suffering then I could be in a bit of trouble. Also why should I be punished for the actions of my character, why not just punish my character? Also does a real life organization need to police characters in game? Isn’t that for the game developer to decide? One thing is clear, online games are changing the was we recognize virtual possessions. No longer can we commit crimes online and hide behind the Internet.

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