Should Virtual Theft Carry A Real-World Penalty?

Posted on Feb 25, 2008 under Gaming News | No Comment

This article on Kotaku talks about the theft of Second Life items or epic gear, and whether it should have a real-world penalty. If you follow gaming news, you’ve heard horror stories about the divorcing couple fighting over in-game assets, or the college roommates who got into a fistfight over a virtual sword. Should a virtual item carry a real world value? And should the theft of an item have a real-world penalty?

From the article:

Is it relevant for the qualification as theft whether the stolen fortune stays officially in game? Well, not to me. I see no reason for distinguishing between virtual and physical theft. The original owners of the stolen Habbo furniture obtained the items after they bought credits with real money, and do attach value to those items. As long as the original owner looses something of value (such as virtual items) due to the act of another individual who gains possession over the item, it should in my opinion be qualified as theft, no matter whether the locus delicti is in the physical or the virtual world.

What do you think? Should ninja-looters be sentenced to community service? Or is it just imaginary stuff in a pretend game world?

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