The Growth of Cybercrime and Cybercrime Prevention in Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds are no longer the backwater playgrounds of a few computer-adept programmers. They are multi-billion dollar worldwide industries spanning the fields of entertainment, communications, information technology, and increasingly law enforcement. In short, there's money to be made, and with an expansive, loosely-regulated product like virtual worlds comes the potential for cybercrime.

I wrote several months ago about how law enforcement agencies are increasingly turning to virtual world account information to provide breaks in real-world legal cases, but what about crimes committed entirely within a virtual sphere?

Several news outlets from around the world are increasingly looking at what is required to secure a profitable industry from brazen exploitation by scammers, money launderers, and cyberpirates. Regulators are calling for cybercrime task forces within physical police departments. The frontier of virtual worlds seems poised to get some new lawmen.

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Could Standardizing Virtual Worlds Turn Off Consumers?

3059934552_c9b5be27d9 One of the major impediments to widespread use of virtual worlds is standardization. What virtual worlds need for mainstream success, the theory goes, is unification across platforms.

One article argues that this means the ability to carry one avatar between worlds.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at why consumers may not stomach the shift.

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Developers Should Open Virtual Goods Markets

Gamestop-sign We recently wrote that developers were fighting a failing battle by trying to restrict secondary virtual goods markets through tools such as account banning and eliminating in-game trade.

Now an article published by the CIOL Network seems to agree: Fighting the market in in-game goods will not only ruin the experience for honest players, it won't work.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at what CIOL recommends, and whether or not their recommendation could soon come true.

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How Can Developers Combat Secondary Loot Markets?

Wow-gold-guide-300 The California Gold Rush of 1849 flooded the West with prospectors chasing dazzling riches.

It also created a boom market for general stores, taverns, brothels, and government where previously there had been only desert.

If the current boom in the profitability of virtual worlds is any indication, we may be seeing a Gold Rush for by 21st Century standards.

Pixels and Policy investigates how virtual goods dealers are growing rich supplying busy gamers with the rarest in-world items and weapons, and why this stands to change the future of gaming and commerce.

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Manual Labor in Virtual Worlds: How Fair Are In-Game Auction Houses?

One of the most frustrating times in an MMORPG player's digital life is "grinding" for experience to attain a game's highest levels. This often entails killing hundreds – if not thousands – of enemies over the course of days and weeks to obtain a small advance in the character's level and vital statistics.

But what happens when in-world auction houses like those in World of Warcraft, EVE Online and other games allow time-strapped players to contract out portions of quests to be completed by others in exchange for money?

Pixels and Policy looks at some interesting emerging research on the subject.

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How Online Gaming is Changing Parenting

Like me, a huge percentage of people exposed to games as children are still playing. The average age of a gamer is 35 – a generation ahead of mine. So it makes sense that Cecil Adkins of The Examiner would ask, "What happens when two gamers form a family?" From his thought-provoking article:

If you're a parent and you spend a lot of time playing MMOs, your child will inevitably become interested in them Children and MMOsas well.

There is a lot to be said about balancing quality time with your family with work and an active MMO life so that your kids don't feel neglected…So how do you handle it when your little tyke decides he or she wants to get involved in online gaming?

Is there a way to merge the demands of an avatar in a fantasy-based MMORPG like World of Warcraft with the real-world demand for parental involvement in a child's life? Does the spouse of ten years trump the Sword of Ten Thousand Nights?

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Multiplayer Gaming: Bigger than Hollywood.

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Forget watching Iron Man and thinking you're superhero-with-attitude Tony Stark. Multiplayer video games allow you to be a Tony Stark-type character.

It's this interactivity and customizability, says Tom Chatfield

of The Guardian, that explains why multiplayer gaming has surpassed moviegoing as society's imaginative escape of choice.

Pixels and Policy investigates.

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Why Virtual Worlds Aren’t A “Global Phenomenon” Yet

The San Jose Mercury News recently ran a telling but misguided piece that described virtual worlds as a "global phenomenon." Despite being tech optimists, we at Pixels and Policy were skeptical.

If virtual worlds are really shaping global thinking and business to "phenomenon" levels, why have we seen so few major mixed-media deals, and virtually no company investment on a scale comparable to YouTube or Facebook? Pixels and Policy investigates.

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Why Virtual Worlds are Coming Down on Antisocial Gaming

Griefers-708954Online gaming, especially in fantasy realms like World of Warcraft and Everquest, is a group effort. So why is antisocial behavior so prevalent?

Pixels and Policy looks at why some players seem driven to ruin the experience for others, and what it means for businesses and the long-term existence of the Metaverse.

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Why Big Business Must Adapt to Virtual Worlds or Fail

Modern businesses may be finding they have less control over their brand identity than they did even ten years ago. According to a recent Law.com article, social media and virtual worlds are taking branding power from big corporations and giving it to any user with some creativity and an internet connection.

From the article:

Companies are embracing social media because it presents a new
opportunity to be transparent and upfront, says Paul Mussell, senior
counsel of the intellectual property group at Wells Fargo & Company.
"The best approach is to get in there and manage your brand, and don't
leave a lot of vacuum space for people to fill," Mussell says. "Because
they will fill it."


Wells Fargo, as many know,
adopted their own interactive virtual island in Second Life. Pixels and Policy takes a look at what it's going to take to keep businesses successful in the virtual world.

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