Tuesday, November 20, 2007

13 y.o. Vietnamese Boy Kills Woman for Money to Play Video Games

Police in Vietnam have arrested a 13-year-old boy accused of murdering and robbing an 81-year-old woman for money to play online games, a police official said Tuesday. Dinh The Dan was arrested on Sunday at his home in Nam Dinh province, 80 kilometers south of Hanoi, according to local policeman Nguyen Duy Duong.

Police say Dan strangled Mai Thi Mau, 81, with a piece of rope and took 100,000 dong (6.2 dollars) from her before burying her in a pile of sand in front of his house on November 10.

"Dan confessed that he needed money to play online games and decided to kill and rob the woman," Duong said.

"He is too young to be put in prison for the crime he committed, but we will send him to a reeducation camp, which may release him after he shows enough good behavior," Duong said.

In November last year, Vietnamese police arrested a 15-year-old boy accused of extorting money to play online games.

Trinh Dinh Thanh, of northern Vinh Phuc province,was arrested after he allegedly demanded some 300 dollars from a local businessman, threatening to splash sulfuric acid on the face of the man's 12-year-old daughter if he refused to pay.

Online gaming is wildly popular in Vietnam, with internet cafes typically packed with teenagers after school and late into the night.

The craze has prompted concern among parents and authorities - Vietnamese media even reported that one young boy died after sitting at a computer for three days straight, though any such death could not be confirmed by police.

Internet cafes have been instructed to limit the time that young people spend on computer games, but the rules have proved difficult to enforce.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Combat Viruses on Playstation 3

Video game consoles, which are increasingly being used to surf the Internet, aren't generally equipped with antivirus protection like PCs.

Security vendor Trend Micro Inc. thinks they should be, though. It has launched software for Sony's Playstation 3 that promises to block malicious Web pages and those dealing in sex, drugs and violence.

The company bills the software as the first of its kind for a home gaming system. It was released earlier this month as part of a PS3 upgrade and will be free until April.

Some industry experts wonder whether consumers will leap for the technology the way they snap up security products for the more vulnerable PC and whether protection for video game consoles is really necessary.

"I think the jury's still out," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at Friedman Billings Ramsey. "Over the coming years, as the console becomes more common in terms of Web browsing, that's when you can really try to gauge what type of opportunity it is for the antivirus vendors."

Tokyo-based Trend Micro's software applies the company's technologies for identifying Web sites that host malicious code and those that serve as launch pads for scams to steal passwords, financial data and other personal information.

The company says video game players are increasingly vulnerable to Web attacks as they use their consoles for more than just gaming. It vows the new software will make PS3 users feel safer browsing the Internet.

In addition to blocking malicious Web sites, parents can use the software to block their children's access to sites that depict illegal activities or sexually oriented material. A password is needed to access that feature.

via AP

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Microsoft Hit With Class Action Suit Over Xbox Live

A man who claims Microsoft improperly allowed his underage son to use his debit card to subscribe to the company's Xbox Live gaming service and automatically renewed the subscription without authorization is suing the software maker for consumer fraud.

In a class action suit, Georgia resident Francisco Garcia claims that in October 2005 his son, Silvario, used his debit card to buy a $49.99, one-year subscription to Xbox Live. The service lets Xbox owners play games like Halo 3 against each other over the Internet.

A year later, Garcia claims, Microsoft automatically billed him for an additional year of Xbox Live without his knowledge or consent. He contends that the charge sent his checking account into overdraft, and that his bank slapped him with a $35.00 penalty.

Garcia says Microsoft refunded the subscription fee but didn't cover the bank penalty.

By accepting a subscription from a minor and automatically renewing it without consent, Microsoft "fraudulently induced a contractual relationship for Xbox Live services," Garcia claims in his suit.

The action was originally filed in August in state court in Georgia. In September, Microsoft filed a motion to have the case moved to federal court.

Garcia claims Microsoft broke Georgia law when it allowed a minor to use a debit card to sign up for Xbox Live, and flouted consumer regulations when it renewed the service without written authorization.

Garcia is seeking unspecified damages and is asking the court to broaden the case to include all Xbox Live customers in Georgia hit with similar problems.

Microsoft has asked the federal court to dismiss the case, claiming it has paperwork that proves Silvario Garcia misrepresented his age when he subscribed to Xbox Live by falsely stating that he was at least 18 years old.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Teenager Has Been Arrested for Stealing Virtual Property

A Dutch teenager has been arrested for allegedly stealing virtual furniture from "rooms" in Habbo Hotel, a 3D social networking website.

The 17-year-old is accused of stealing 4,000 euros (£2,840) worth of virtual furniture, bought with real money.

Five 15-year-olds have also been questioned by police, who were contacted by the website's owners.

The six teenagers are suspected of moving the stolen furniture into their own Habbo rooms.

A spokesman for Sulake, the company that operates Habbo Hotel, said: "The accused lured victims into handing over their Habbo passwords by creating fake Habbo websites.

"In Habbo, as in many other virtual worlds, scamming for other people's personal information such as user names has been problematic for quite a while.

"We have had much of this scamming going on in many countries but this is the first case where the police have taken legal action."

Habbo users can create their own characters, decorate their own rooms and play a number of games, paying with Habbo Credits, which they have to buy with real cash.

"It is a theft because the furniture is paid for with real money. But the only way to be a thief in Habbo is to get people's usernames and passwords and then log in and take the furniture.

"We got involved because of an increasing number of sites which are pretending to be Habbo. People might then try and log in and get their details stolen."

Six million people in more than 30 countries play Habbo Hotel each month.

Virtual theft is a growing issue in virtual worlds; in 2005 a Chinese gamer was stabbed to death in a row over a sword in a game.

Shanghai gamer Qiu Chengwei killed player Zhu Caoyuan when he discovered he had sold a "dragon sabre" he had been loaned.

via bbc

Monday, October 29, 2007

Racing video game simulates drunk driving

A University of Calgary fine arts professor has created a video game designed to tackle the problem of drinking and driving.

Dr. James Parker developed the game "Booze Cruise," which was developed with the help of students, challenges players to get their cars home within a certain period of time without hitting anyone.

"This game is not like any other racing game you've played," student Nathan Sorenson told CTV News, "It's extremely difficult to achieve your objectives. You'll notice that you're hitting everything (and) you're losing a lot of points."

In the game, the player's key functions are delayed, much like a drunk driver's reaction time. Objects appear from nowhere, allowing the player to experience a type of tunnel vision.

"Somewhere in your mind, you're getting a tangible experience of how difficult it is to drive, even with a few drinks," said Sorenson.

Even those normally opposed to racing games are embracing the realism of "Booze Cruise." The Calgary Police Service provided input at the game's research stage.

"I think they've captured quite a bit of... what stage you'd be at if you drove at three times the legal (alcohol) limit," said Constable Rob Haffner.

With original art, music and design, "Booze Cruise" has been entered in the Future Play Game Contest in Toronto.

Lori Shyba, a digital media artist at the university, was one of those who developed the project. Her hope is that, when players discover how bad they are at the game, they won't try it in real life.

"I hope that one life gets saved for our efforts," she said.

Sarah Galashan of CTV