My take away from the article Ethical Issues in Second Life, was the importance of users understanding the possible risks that come from participating in a virtual world. Users must educate themselves not only in the possibilities of play, risks and ways to protect themselves. We assume risks each day and accept that life is unpredictable in both enormous blessings and horrific tragedies.

Beyond actual crimes involving intellectual property, most of these cases appear to highlight the fact that like reality, virtual worlds are imperfect places where bad things happen to unsuspecting avatars. Then again, why should virtual reality be any different than reality? Are the creators and inhabitants of virtual worlds really naive enough to believe that utopia can be found within the constructs of code?

It is difficult, if not impossible to imagine ways to stop crime in virtual worlds considering the globally-connected society in which different entities have different rules of law, justice systems and punishment methods. Considering the difficulties associated with enforcing criminal law, what chance of success does imposing specific codes of ethics have? And isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, play and even misbehavior differ? Who are we to say that certain virtual behavior is wrong?

Even in the instance where someone invited a newcomer to visit the shadier sides of Second Life, one could argue that it wasn’t an improper thing to engage in. What if the inviter thought they were welcoming someone of similar tastes to the party? Consider the shadier sides of human society, what one groups views as improper is far different than another group. Variations across societies, cultures, religious groups, age demographics and even time periods all account for different accepted norms. Why should virtual spaces be any different than real-world spaces? Can it be assumed that as virtual inhabitants begin to increase, so will the variety of spaces offering different virtual cultural norms?

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