Loot Hog

A local story of virtual theft in a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online roleplaying game, for the non-geeks) from the PiPress today:

For video gamer Geoff Luurs, 20, the looting of his player account in Final Fantasy XI was unimaginable.

Luurs, formerly of Blaine, collected jewels, charms and rare coins - some 50 items - over four years while playing FFXI, an online role-playing game where he adventured as Sots, a tiny magician.

Worse yet, Luurs suspected a fellow gamer and friend by the character name of Ayri had emptied him of treasure worth 75 million Gil, the currency used to measure success within the game.

Now, the guy obviously made some big, dumb mistakes. First, he's playing Final Fantasy XI, which was panned by all but the most Japanophilic critics. Second, he gave out his account info to a fellow gamer--the online equivalent of handing a stranger the keys to his house.

But it's still a story I can sympathize with, as a World of Warcraft player of three years. If someone made off with my Gyro-Balanced Khorium Destroyer and Barbed Choker of Discipline, I'd likely get out my Baseball Bat of Bonecrushing for a little end-game raiding on the offender's kneecaps.

Interesting side note: Mr. Luurs went to the police, who told him they couldn't do anything because the virtual items that were stolen had no currency value, and the bulk of the article questions whether they really do have such currency value.

But the point might be moot. When you purchase a copy of World of Warcraft, it is explicitly stated that all loot, characters, and other such items associated with a particular account are actually property of the publisher, Blizzard Entertainment. In effect, my $15 bucks a month user fee (well worth it, trust me) is "renting" the property of Blizzard for my entertainment.

I'm not sure if the same agreement applies to Final Fantasy XI and its publisher, Square Enix, but if so, it would change the story somewhat; the victim would be Square Enix, and the crime would be account tampering or fraud or somesuch, not theft. Maybe some of y'all playing that terrible, terrible game could put us in the know?

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