Patterns of Individual and Group Rivalries within Markets Characterised by Trust, Reputation and, when all else fails, Violence.

Mr Robert Fleet1

1Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Identifying, investigating, and potentially disrupting organised criminal networks is difficult. Data gathered by law enforcement and regulatory authorities are often inconsistent, incomplete, and inaccurate. Computational criminology attempts to address these limitations by modelling the behaviour of virtual “humans” in virtual places. However, virtual humans are rule-based and can never fully replicate actual human behaviour. This study takes a new approach by utilising the benefits of the observable and controllable environment of virtual worlds but examining real people and real behaviour. To do this, the study explores real people’s behaviour in a virtual environment like the circumstances found in organised criminal networks. Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) video games with player-driven markets present real humans with similar circumstances in controlled and observable virtual environments. Market conditions within MMO games and illicit markets are both characterised by trust, reputation and, when all else fails, violence. Overall, MMO games are a novel data source to identify, investigate, and provide prevention strategies to the problem of organised criminal networks. Using social network analysis of real-world players from data broadcast by EVE-Online (an MMO); spatial, temporal, and behavioural patterns of both offenders and victims are examined. This paper outlines some initial analysis of individual and group patterns of rivalry from within the MMO. Overall, MMO games offer a powerful social science data generator that offers insights into real-world social problems (such as organised criminal networks) that are typically difficult to examine.


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