Hanoi on a wet Friday afternoon in February. Two keen on line gamers on Swordman Online ( Vo Lam Truyen Ky) went to an internet cafe on Giai Phong road, Hoang Mai district. This indescribably boring game has a virtual world where gamers can buy and sell products to other aimless geeks, nerds and the like.
Happily playing away, sipping their lemon grass sodas, the pair were set upon by 5 other (evidently less competent ) envious wannabe gamers who proceeded to beat them up and at knife point forced them to transfer their in-game money into their account .
The "robbers" have been identified by the Police but they are at a loss how to proceed even though they find this same gang have had 5 previous similiar hits.
Legal eagles are no help to PC Viet Plod either.
Dr. Le Thi Thu Thuy, a lecturer from the Hanoi National Law University, says these men should be charged with asset robbery. She said that today, assets are diversified, and the law can’t cover every single type. Money in computer games can be considered a kind of good, which laws don’t prohibit from trade. Anyone who uses violence to steal money, even if it’s online, must be tried as a criminal.
Find one lwayer get 9 opinions - Pham Hong Hai from the Hanoi Bar Association agreed with Thuy but procurator Nguyen Quang Long from the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau disagrees, saying money in computer games is not stipulated as assets in the Civil Code so the five men can only be charged with assault.
Yet another smart-ass lawyer, this time Nguyen Van Tuan from the HCM City Bar Association said the case should be based on the robbers’ purpose. If they rob in-game money to sell to others to collect real money, they must be charged with robbery.
They will be fascinated by the on going row in the House about whether the telcos who let Uncle Sam read your e-mails should have retrospective legal protection - there was a case of stealing ...but .....