Friday, February 06, 2009

Judge Dread

Those of us who have read Charles Stross' book Halting State will get a little chuckle out of this. Those who haven't will get a little chuckle out of this also.

Halting State is a techno-crime thriller that starts with a team of Orcs raiding a bank in cyberspace. Not, but a virtual bank, inside a role-playing game world online. The scenarios are so near-future some of them are actually happening today and the rest are expected shortly. This one wasn't in the book, but it could have been.

An Orange County Justice, William Bedsworth, writes in A Criminal Waste of Space, of Japan, where:

…this nice, quiet, 43-year-old piano teacher in Sapporo created an avatar for a game called Maple Story, described by the Associated Press as one in which players “engage in social relationships and fight monsters and other challenges.” I can’t speak to the quandaries encountered in Maple Story, but I’d rather fight a monster than engage in a social relationship any day. And sure enough, the social relationship part is what got this lady thrown in jail. […] Apparently unable to retain a virtual Gloria Allred, Ms. Doe released her own statement: “I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry.”

But as commonplace as her public statement might have been, Ms. Doe’s revenge was a tour de force of imagination befitting someone with a background in monster eradication. Using login information she obtained when their characters were happily married – virtually – Ms. Doe logged in with her virtual husband’s password and caused his avatar to walk in front of a truck.Yep. Flattened him.

Dead before the virtual paramedics arrived.

She is now in jail, awaiting sentencing. Justice Bedsworth goes into some diversions here and there on the arcane sentencing laws in California, and the headaches it brings him contemplating the ever more arcane sentencing laws it will take to bring justice to someone who arranges to have a virtual character 'killed'.

It's not often I read a blog on a website by the Orange County Bar Association, but this one's worth it.

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