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This Just In: World of Warcraft WILL KILL YOU DEAD (via FoxNews)

Foxnews, that paragon of moderate, thoughtful journalism, has an article with the following title:

Online Game Meetings Sometimes End Tragically, but Phenomenon Remains Rare

What the hell is this headline saying. Is it claiming that thankfully, the phenomenon of people meeting each other in online games is rare? Or is ending tragically a rare phenomenon? Or does the copy editor at Foxnews even speak English? That last option is the most comforting to me. I’d like to think that News Corp has an enlightened policy of hiring immigrants new to our shores.

And that’s just the headline. Actually clicking the link and reading the story makes my ears bleed.

“When you’re in a social situation like that — playing a game, having fun — you’re comfortable with the people you’re playing with,” said cyber-stalking victim Jayne Hitchcock, president of Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA). “People are just not very careful. They lose all sense of reality and themselves.”

Well heck. Clearly we must NOT BE COMFORTABLE WITH EACH OTHER. I can do this. I’m pretty damned uncomfortable with you RIGHT NOW, I’ll have you know.

But wait – it’s not just comfort we must caution ourselves with. It’s the horrible, horrible spectre of roleplaying. That’s right, you have been decieved – she’s not really an elven mage.

“You’re hiding behind a cloak of anonymity and false pretenses,” said University of Baltimore criminologist Jeffrey Ian Ross. “They force you to pick an alter ego.”

Ross said that because defenses are down, people can be more susceptible to the advances of predators or those who are mentally unstable.

Also, since criminologists are commenting on online games, can I comment on unsolved crimes now? I’m just sayin’ is all. Here, like Foxnews I’ll illustrate with a picture.

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Of course, the prompting for this outburst of heavy breathing has been the “Baby Grace” story, where the parents of an abused and murdered child were revealed to be World of Warcraft players. Surprisingly, the press spin was not “first abuse and murder case found in community of nine million”, but “OMG YOU COULD BE NEXT LOG OUT NOW NOW NOW“.

When Priester discovered she was pregnant last February and her own parents asked her to leave, she moved in with the Sawyers, Trenor and Riley.

By then, Trenor had developed an interest in World of Warcraft, an online fantasy game. Priester said Trenor would play it for hours, sometimes long past midnight.

Trenor met Zeigler online through the game, police say. Zeigler told her that he lived in Houston and worked as a Shell Oil contractor.

“Kim was young, I mean, 18 years old, naive,” said Sheryl Sawyers. “Maybe he painted a pretty picture and that’s, you know, what made her move down there.”

There were some token voices of sanity – surprisingly, not every person who met a friend from an MMO then proceeded to murder them. Or, as this wonderfully economical quote in a story not published by Foxnews puts it:

“We have to be cautious and not think everyone online is crazy,” said Celia Pearce, a professor at Georgia Tech’s Experimental Games Lab

But of course, with Foxnews, the closing thought is what counts. And what is the closing thought for this article?

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Until later, friends, please, if you meet each other, try to restrain the urge to MURDER EACH OTHER DEAD. I know, it will be tempting, since the Internet is involved. Courage.