On crimes and punishments in virtual worlds: bots, the failure of punishment and players as moral entrepreneurs

Stefano De Paoli, Aphra Kerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on the role of punishment as a critical social mechanism for cheating prevention in MMORPGs. The role of punishment is empirically investigated in a case study of the MMORPG Tibia (Cipsoft 1997–2011) (http://www.tibia.com) and by focusing on the use of bots to cheat. We describe the failure of punishment in Tibia, which is perceived by players as one of the elements facilitating the proliferation of bots. In this process some players act as a moral enterprising group contributing to the reform of the game rules and in particular to the reform of the Tibia punishment system by the game company. In the conclusion we consider the ethical issues raised by our findings and we propose some general reflections on the role of punishment and social mechanisms for the governance of online worlds more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73–87
Number of pages15
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


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