The blurred lines between virtual worlds and the real world have been examined in a recent episode of US drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
A fictitious virtual world cleverly called Another YOUniverse, which bears a striking resemblance to Second Life, is the main focus of a recent episode of the investigative drama. The alternate identities (avatars) of virtual world users play a key role in the main crime in the episode, which was broadcast on NBC in the US earlier this week.
This isn't the first time the Law & Order franchise has focused on IT-related matters in its storyline; last year an episode in the original Law & Order series focused on a firm dealing with a similar spying scandal to Hewlett-Packard.
The main plot of the episode focusing on virtual worlds follows the story of a woman in her twenties - whose avatar is a teenage girl that runs a sex club - that is raped, drugged, kidnapped, and subsequently murdered after being virtually stalked in Another YOUniverse. The avatar of the victim bears a striking resemblance to a teenager kidnapped by the perpetrator decades earlier.
Linden Labs and their ilk can rest easy though, as the creators of the virtual world, Another YOUniverse, are painted in a positive light as they willingly assist the detectives in their investigation.
The issue of crime in virtual worlds will be further examined later this month in another investigative drama as an episode of CSI: New York, due to air on 24 October in the US, sees the lead character enter Second Life.
© 2007 ENN