Virtual Worlds, Real Thefts: Real Police Search for Virtual Furniture
This sort of news story pains my brain.
The BBC reports that real police raided real homes looking for virtual furniture stolen on the online site Habbo Hotel. As near as I can tell, Habbo Hotel is sort of a cross between a virtual world game and a social networking site. The FAQs weren’t real clear about it.
From the BBC story:
Finnish police are investigating up to 400 cases of theft, with some members reporting the loss of up to €1000 (£840) worth of virtual furniture and other items, according to Detective Sergeant Marko Levonen.
“We have done five home searches in five cities in Finland,” he said.
Levonen explained that several Habbo Hotel members contacted the police earlier this year, saying their virtual belongings had been stolen, and seeking help from the police.
The Finnish company Sulake, which owns Habbo Hotel subsequently identified several hundred more users who appeared to have been targeted, according to DS Levonen.
The online thieves allegedly targeted users with fake web pages to capture usernames and passwords, in what is commonly known as an online “phishing” scam.
I have heard of persons trading real money for virtual items in games before. This story hit the news last fall: the Facebook game FarmVille apparently brings a new twist to the phrase “buying the farm.” And theft of Linden dollars has been a recurring issue in Second Life.
I can certainly understand spending real money on a computer game; after all, you get something. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around spending real money in a virtual computer game. It seems to take the “game”–the idea of a diversion from the downs of real life–out of the game.
Actually, I think I find the spending part harder to understand than the stealing part; if one person is willing to buy something, there is always someone else willing to steal it.
My gaming pretty much begins and ends with Pysol. It’s not that I’m against gaming–I used to enjoy watching my kids play. My older son preferred strategy and role playing games; my younger son preferred first-person shooters.
it’s that I knew I would not have the time to beat the really complex games they played and I didn’t want to deal with being consistently mediocre.
In yet another endeavor.
I could consistently get to level three of the original Sonic, but I didn’t get past it. My older son beat it consistently. He didn’t have to earn his living at the time.
His mother and I were earning his lving.