Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Rape in Cyberspace (Shout outs to Prof. Sternberg)

Guys you should check this out. It's  an article I remembered reading and discussing a bit in my Digital Media & Cyberculture class a a year or so back. It talks about a rape that went down in an old school MUD (which is basically like what World of War Craft is nowadays only back then it was just words). The article goes on to say how this user managed to hack past the security controls/guards present in the chat world and reap all sorts of havoc and chaos on the users inside. It explicitly cites an incident wherein one of the users was "raped" among an array of "atrocities" committed. After the damage this user (Mr. Bungle) caused, the article explains about how the victims and other members of the MUD wanted justice handed down to the culprit. Anyways, there's more in the article if you check it out. But I think a key thing to look at when reading this, despite how absurd/silly you may (or may not) find it, is with all the amenities given to facebook, the Internet, etc. to make it seem more life-like and real and with the behaviors and attitudes that are simulated to bring this world as close to ours as possible. Are the feelings, emotions, joys and pains we "feel" online comparable to the real world? And as such, do we punish/reward people in the same or similar ways that we would in the real world? Since everything is "syncing" nowadays I think this stuff is important to consider or at least start a somewhat healthy dialogue about. Maybe or maybe not, anyways its unique to say the least, and if you guys don't find it interesting at least you can see what its like to see chat users get upset over virtual "assaults"

Here's the Link to the full Article:


Anonymous said...

MUD justice? Give me a break. Interesting article, jchav---thanks!

Lance Strate said...

This is an oldie but a goodie. We had a chapter that discussed it (and MUDs) in the first edition of Communication and Cyberspace, but had to take it out to make room for new material.

Some points to take out of it are that people do take these things seriously, do get hurt in virtual environments, and also when people interact they automatically start to form a society and culture, developing rules of conduct and enforcing them when someone steps out of bounds, even if it mostly happens without anyone intending to set up any laws or codes.