According to Andy Anderson of the Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force, criminals have started using Animal Crossing: City Folk to target children. In the game, players create their own town and, when hooked up to the internet, can talk to anyone around the country. This means that the character in the town you visited yesterday could be a predator several states away.
“There is no reason an adult should have this game,” says Anderson, who thinks that adults playing games like Animal Crossing are doing it for the wrong reasons. If you have children, it is almost a given that you have told them not to speak to strangers, yet the whole point of a game like Animal Crossing is to trade gifts with others, and that is where those with bad intentions take advantage. Anderson says it is in the parent’s hands to keep an eye on this problem to keep it from becoming worse. “The equipment is real expensive and we cannot afford to buy all of the systems and do not have the resources either to examine all of the possibilities,” he concludes.
What Mr. Anderson, and to a larger fault the television station that broke this story, fail to mention is that there is much more involved with getting such a game online than just plugging it in. To talk to anyone using the Wii console, you must have the WiiSpeak accessory. In the case of Animal Crossing: City Folk, the game comes in two separate options: one with WiiSpeak and one without. Additionally, and most importantly, in order to be able to talk to anyone, visit anyone’s town, share pictures, or any other sort of social activity, both parties must know the other’s Wii friend code. This is quite different from turning on the game and having strangers walk into your living room, as they do on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
We here at TVGB respect those in law enforcement and understand that fighting crime is a tough job, no matter if they are in uniform on the streets or silently protecting the interwebs, and it is only getting harder. Information and knowledge are the keys to keeping people safe, but sometimes those things can be overcome by zeal and shortsightedness when presented with a readily available scapedgoat. Every videogame console to date has been accused of encouraging deviant acts, from stalking to murder, and apparently even the Wii is no longer immune from this tactic of grabbing the low-hanging fruit.