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MMORPG’s are videogames that allow thousands of players to simultaneously enter a virtual world and interact with one another.Players can run their own “cities and countries,” stand up armies to win battles and go on any variety of “quests” with their own avatars. Within MMOG’s participants may communicate with each other through a variety of means, including text chat or real time voice communication, using technologies such as VOIP to carry their messages.

Given the significant advances in computer processing power and the growing number of Internet users around the world, it should come as no surprise that newer forms of criminal conduct in cyberspace are surfacing, to include crime and disorder in “virtual worlds”(1) as well. The concept of “virtual reality” is new to law enforcement agencies around the world.Chung created a real estate company within Second Life and as a result became the first “real world” millionaire based solely upon her activities in virtual worlds.(2) In short, “virtual worlds” create an alternative reality where users can represent themselves as they wish, in just about any format they desire through their “avatars.” Men can become women, women men, adults may become children and human beings may transform themselves into animals, superheroes or monsters.Virtual worlds often contain elements common to other types of online activities, such as MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games).Common “real world” crimes are occurring every day in virtual worlds, including money-laundering, theft of intellectual property, exchange of child abuse images and even suspected terrorist activities.For these reasons, new virtual worlds and communities pose a unique set of challenges for the criminal justice system.The most commonly seen types of virtual worlds break down into two general categories: game-playing and community-based, although they often share some characteristics of the other.

One of the interesting developments with certain Virtual Worlds is the possibility of transforming gains generated within these online spaces into real world money.

The answers are complex and are not yet fully understood by psychologists.

To many, virtual worlds offer not just a form of entertainment, but also a means of escapism, a way of creating an alternative environment that is much more attuned to the user’s liking.

The fantasy lives permitted via these virtual worlds create almost unlimited opportunities for escapism, starting from the fact that an avatar does not need to have any verisimilitude to how one appears or behaves in real life.

In order for any investigator to understand virtual worlds, the crimes that take place therein, and the suffering of victims of “virtual crimes,” it is critical that the investigator gain insight into the mindset of virtual spaces’ “inhabitants.” Many of them sincerely see their “second lives” as “first lives,” to the extent that, for the more extreme participants (about 20% of MMORPG gamers), the real world (a.k.a.

The rapidly changing nature of information and communications technologies suggests that as soon as new hardware, software or other applications are introduced, they will be exploited in some form or fashion by international criminal organisations.