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Posts with tag crime

The Lawbringer: Gold sellers are criminals!


Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly tour of the intersection between law and the World of Warcraft. I'm a third-year law student acting as your crossing guard, trying desperately to avoid getting run over myself.

All our discussions about contract law and the EULA have been dealing with civil law (civil law as in the opposite of criminal law, not the opposite of common law). As has been pointed out before, selling gold is a violation of the Terms of Use and End User License Agreement. What can American courts do to someone who breaches a contract? For that answer, we have to look at the history of merry olde England. Fire up the DeLorean, Marty!

Medieval England (the time period from which law is still recovering) had a bifurcated justice system. If someone had violated a contract, the aggrieved party could sue in a court of law for damages. These damages could be the amount of money necessary to put the victim in the position in which they were before the contract was made. (Example: I promise to mow your lawn, and you pay me $20 ahead of time. I don't mow your lawn; you can sue me for the $20.) Depending on the case, the victim might receive the amount of money necessary to put him in the position in which he would have been had the contract been followed. (Example: same scenario, except not only do I have to pay you back the $20, I have to pay $20 to get someone else to mow the yard.) This is just fine when a problem can be resolved with money.

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Filed under: The Lawbringer

Boozing 27 year-old chokes mom over WoW

This is a sordid story, no matter how you slice it. In short, an adult male violently attacked his family when he was asked to stop his loud drinking and WoW gaming session so the children in the same room with him could sleep. Because of the violent nature of the events, I am putting the details after the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

Blizzard helps authorities track fugitive

Blizzard helped an Indiana sheriff track an allegedly drug-dealing, definitely WoW-playing fugitive to Canada. Sheriff's Deputy Matt Roberson, who used to play World of Warcraft, discovered that Alfred Hightower aka Rastlynn, was an avid player. So he contacted Blizzard with a request for help in locating his quarry. Three months later, Blizzard sent Roberson a package containing Rastlynn's IP address, billing address and other info. After finding out the fugitive's latitude and longitude from his IP, Roberson used Google Search to pinpoint Rastlynn's exact location. With the cooperation of Canadian authorities, Hightower has been deported and now awaits his fate in the U.S.

Usually it is Blizzard that is calling the police for help, as in the cases of:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Drama Mamas: Of crime and crossdressing

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

Pictured above is just some of the torture devices on the prison ship Success. The writer of our first letter is not looking to send a guild "criminal" on a tortuous journey across the globe to a penal colony, but he is looking to exact a harsher punishment than the one already meted out. Our second petitioner is tortured about being considered weird for playing the opposite gender. We won't torture you with any further delays before letting you at the drama.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Features, Drama Mamas

Researchers study WoW to see how gangs form and fade

We've seen WoW used for a lot of research, from epidemics to anthropological fieldwork, but this is probably one of the craziest and one of the most helpful (assuming it works) ways to use it. Psychologists at the University of Miami and the University of California, Irvine have been studying how guilds and groups form in World of Warcraft in the hopes that it'll help them figure out how gangs form in real life. It sounds like a wild idea, but following guilds and groups in World of Warcraft is much easier than trying to study spontaneous guilds in the real world, because you've got immediate access to data: when people joined and left and why. And the psychologists say putting data together like this will help, because it'll help answer questions about, for example, what happens when you decide to separate a group of people -- do they form their own groups again or do they stay separated?

They say there are other connections as well: though killing dragons is far less heinous than killing innocent bystanders, Warcraft guilds form, grow, stick together, and fall apart just like gangs and even other groups all over the world do. No matter what kind of group it is, the researchers say that "group ecology" is the same everywhere, so studying the way we work in endgame raids can lead to ideas about what we're doing elsewhere. Very interesting.

Unfortunately, they're full on potential but still pretty short on conclusions yet (listen, guys, all you have to do to break up gangs is ensure there's not enough loot to go around), but once again, Azeroth seems like a fertile ground for directly studying just how we players interact as humans.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, News items, Raiding, Bosses

Teen arrested for making suicide threat to a GM

After a 17-year-old in Fairfield, Ohio told a GM "he was suicidal and the game was the only thing he had to live for," the Blizzard rep called 911, and the kid was apparently arrested, according to the Middletown Journal. We've seen this before -- Blizzard won't put up with suicide threats -- but as far as I know, this is the first we've heard of an arrest coming about because of it. Apparently the charge is a first degree misdemeanor, and though the kid was released to his father, he's got a court date to face next week.

The dumbest part? The kid wasn't even suicidal -- he told officers when questioned that it was a joke "to try and get what he wanted for the game." We doubt this will lead to anything big (we'd put the kid in community service and give him a slap on the wrist -- he's probably scared enough after being handcuffed and put in a patrol car), but Blizzard's policy is exactly right on this one, if you ask us. If the threat is real, this could prevent a tragedy, and if it's just some kid messing around to try and get his banned account back, he might learn a little lesson in the process.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Is gold buying being used to launder money?

Law of the Game postulated that gold sellers would make an effective way to launder money for criminal organizations. Now, I can't say that I find his idea to actually have to pay real tax in-game money (which, at least in WoW's case, isn't even really yours, as Blizzard has repeatedly stated that all in game items and assets belong to them) but I can understand that, if Symantec is right and real life criminals are using our MMO hobby as a means to not only make money but to clean up money made from other, illicit activities, then eventually something will have to be done to make it less attractive to them. At present, gold selling or RMT (real money trading) is a incredibly safe business for people to commit crimes with (as, for an example, stealing your password in order to convert all of your character's gear to gold that can be sold to others) because it's new territory.

The new danger would be that not only is there money to be made in the trading of on-line gold and items, but there's even more money to be made in using that trade to conceal yet more money made through already established vices and crimes. Which, to be honest, kind of messes with my head: the idea that someone pretending to be a stealthy rogue or bloodthirsty brute of a warrior could in fact be helping honest to murgatroyd killers, thieves and pushers to conceal how they made their money by buying pretend gold with real money.

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items, Economy

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