Amulet theft in online fantasy game ends with real-world conviction

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Jul 4, 2015, 1:19 PM EDT

If you're serious about your online RPG gaming, you take your virtual inventory seriously. You worked hard for those helms, broadswords and enchanted gems, so hard that they might even be as real to you as the computer you play on. Well, now the Dutch Supreme Court agrees with you, so much so that they just upheld a real-world sentence for stealing virtual magic items.

The court just handed down its ruling to uphold a 2009 conviction for the theft of two items in the popular free fantasy RPG RuneScape, ordering the unnamed offender who stole the items to serve 144 hours of community service.

The theft itself happened back in 2007, when a 13-year-old boy was beaten and threatened with a knife—in real life—until he agreed to log into his RuneScape account and drop a valuable amulet and mask so that one of his assailants could pick them up. Two people were convicted in 2009 for the crime, but only one of them appealed to the Supreme Court. All we know about him is that he was born in 1992, but we can also probably deduce that he's not very good at finding magic items in-game if he has to shake down fellow players like that.

The offender's lawyer argued to the Supreme Court that the virtual items "were neither tangible nor material and, unlike for example electricity, had no economic value." But the court came to a different conclusion, ruling that the items had value to the victim because of "the time and energy he invested" in the game. Plus, you know, there's the whole actual real-world violence aspect of the thing.

Cases like these aren't very common, but every once in a while some overzealous (or just plain dumb) gamer makes it necessary. So the next time you're thinking about how much you really want your buddy's Greater Breast Plate of Fire or something, try offering a trade or coming up with cash before you go all Sopranos on him.

(via The Telegraph)