The Associated Press reports that two Dutch teens have been convicted of stealing virtual game items from a third boy. All three played Runescape, a popular online RPG. At issue is ownership of two virtual items, an amulet and a mask.
While the ruling was the subject of some mirth in the U.S. gaming press, Antal Princen, a Dutch reader of GamePolitics, wrote in to say that there was much more to the story. The AP simply mentions that the victim was coerced, but Antal says there was some nasty real-world violence involved:
[The media reports] omitted a few important details: The duo not only stole the virtual goods, but actually beat the other kid up and threatened him with a knife. They extorted an amulet and mask. In Runescape they're worth a lot of money and in real life people buy them for real money, which is one of the reasons the judge said it was theft.
The boys were convicted for "violent theft". They lured the victim to their house, caught him in a chokehold and kicked and hit him. They used a kitchen knife to threaten the victim. Both thieves showed no regret and didn't acknowledge they did something wrong, which is never good if you find yourself in a Dutch court... The lawyers will appeal.
Indeed, Antal directed us to Dutch website Parool.nl, where we were able to translate the story sufficiently to confirm Antal's account. That being the case, the issue of whether one can steal virtual goods seems to take a back seat to the sheer thuggery of the would-be amulet robbers.
GP: Dank u wel to Antal Princen for the report!