Virtual sword theft is real theft 2007-08-28 10:05:54   Print

    BEIJING, Aug. 28 -- Youths addicted to online games have found ways to earn their living, by slaving away - often literally - quarrying, scalping and even stealing the virtual equipment of the games. These are precious and costly - in real or virtual terms - weapons, rank, robes and accessories.

    This virtual thievery is very real and does not bode well for the future of the young robbers who are plunged into online larceny. They themselves are often the victims of bosses who virtually enslave them for 12 hours a day.

    It's time for the government to ban and for gamers to boycott unidentified transactions for virtual weapons and accessories - because an underground network of theft may well lie at its heart.

    China Youth Daily reported last Tuesday that the Chinese Internet world is distorted and threatened by countless "black hats" or "crackers," who sneak in servers and personal computers for unjust profits.

    A typical dirty business is stealing users' passwords from QQ, a dominant Chinese instant messaging program, and from online games.

    Some users or players possess virtual items or equipment in their accounts, including virtual currency, virtual costumes to dress in the user's virtual roles, and powerful weapons in games like the World of Warcraft.

    These items are obtained through exchange or purchase with real money or investment of time. They are virtual, but valuable to some people.

    Crackers come to steal these items and hawk them on online auction sites like

    Being indignant at such crimes, I also feel sorry for those criminals. Many of them are even more wretched victims, of the unconstrained online game business, than legitimate users and players.

    They are addicted young players who wasted too much time in the games and become losers in schools and, as adults, have difficulties in finding a regular job to support themselves - so they turn to online crime.

    Some of them, induced by experienced crackers, join the business of online larceny, and mostly function as tiny worms in a huge nest.

    These petty black hats master no real technology, such as programming: all they do is spread Trojan horses, worms and viruses that are developed by real experts, and collect valuable data, as an Internet security engineer told the China Youth Daily.

    As far back as January, CCTV broadcast an investigation of underground online game equipment workshops in China.

    Young men who should have been in college or even schools are hired to play online games at least 12 hours a day, in order to collect equipment, which the workshop bosses then would sell domestically or overseas.

    There are no minimum wages, hardly any days off and no real beds for these online gameslaves. Overnight steamed rice is their daily fare.

    Numb and dull in real life, over-excited in virtual fights, who could make better slaves for this postmodern industry, whose motto is to turn persons into batteries for the matrix, to squeeze the real world for the sake of the virtual one?

    Government and society should take effective measures to restrain the online game industry. A good idea might well be to ban the transactions for virtual items through those e-shopping Websites.

    (Source: Shanghai Daily)

Editor: Du Guodong
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