3 min read

How GTA V is Training the Metaverse Police Force

The International Criminal Police Organization, commonly known as INTERPOL, is getting into the metaverse. They’ve replicated their France headquarters in a 3D world where they hope to host discussions on metaverse policing challenges and maybe even train a metaverse police force someday.

Criminals are already starting to exploit the Metaverse. The World Economic Forum, which has partnered with INTERPOL, Meta, Microsoft, and others in an initiative to define and govern the Metaverse, has warned that social engineering scams, violent extremism, and misinformation could be particular challenges.

“But in order for police to understand the Metaverse, we need to experience it." – INTERPOL

I admire them for starting these discussions and stating they will go into these worlds to start understanding them. However, in my opinion, it’s a buzzwordy press release.

Regardless, metaverse policing is a big question mark for platforms. VRChat is dealing with problems like child grooming. The Center for Countering Digital Hate found an incident of harassment or abuse occurred every 7 minutes on VRChat. Horizon Worlds is dealing with problems like unwanted groping and kissing. They imposed a 4-foot boundary around every avatar to combat the problem. And, of course, there’s no shortage of hate speech in the metaverse too.

Platforms would like to build AI that can detect and flag people for their wrong-doings. But it’s not that easy when you’re dealing with a 3D environment where abuse may come in the form of movement or speech.

Community policing is still the most effective means. User reporting is currently the best way to deal with metaverse “crimes.”

For example, one of the original metaverse platforms, Second Life, never had an official police force. Still, it had community groups like the PeaceKeepers who helped identify and report trolls and griefers.

That’s why I don’t think we should focus on training net-new people as metaverse police. Instead, we should take a playbook from GTA V and ask users to police the metaverse.

Police Roleplaying in GTA V

One of the more fascinating corners of the world of online gaming is Police Roleplaying (RPing) in GTA V. This involves custom servers that modify the game so that players can roleplay as cops. They patrol the streets looking for speeders and chase down robbers and murderers.

It’s serious stuff too. They have a dispatcher, police radios, police codes, and organizational strategies. Not to mention, they wield real power as they can put other players behind bars, which locks them out of the game for a set period of time.

Police RPing in GTA V has been going on since at least 2017. Even today, there’s a strong community of people playing on these law-abiding servers. This type of content has done particularly well on YouTube, with one guy named SteveTheGamer55 who has built an audience of 3M+ for posting his Police RP videos.

The reason this police force works is that they know the game and the map inside and out.

What we can learn from this is that people who are already familiar with these games (or metaverse platforms) and are participants/contributors to the culture are the best suited to be police in the metaverse.

Will we outright train a police force for the metaverse? What does training look like? What do we consider metaverse crimes? How big of a force is needed? If the force isn’t large enough, then do we create specific servers for children where there is a force?

Ultimately, there are more questions than answers when it comes to policing the metaverse.

If we do create metaverse police forces, then I believe it’s more likely they will look like the GTA V roleplayers than some external unit training people that are unfamiliar with the games.

Judge and Jury on the Blockchain

Let’s say we were able to create independent police forces in the metaverse that didn’t rely all on the platforms to keep us safe. We would then have to think about ways to try people in the metaverse. And because the blockchain is an integral part of the metaverse, we have the opportunity to create fair ways of “trying people” for crimes they commit.

One blockchain-based idea I have for replacing a Judge and Jury in the metaverse is through a technology called Token Curated Registries.

A Token Curated Registry, also known as a TCR, is an incentivized voting game that helps create trusted lists that are maintained by the very people that use them. Using the “Wisdom of the Crowds” principle, users collectively vote (using tokens) to decide which submissions are valid and should be included in the list.

It’s a blockchain concept that is poised to reinvent Yelp and Trip Advisor, but I think could also work for the Judge and Jury in the metaverse.

Basically, if the police apprehended a citizen for their crime, then they could either accept their conviction/penalty or refute it and get it expunged from their record. To refute it, they would have to submit a token (respective to the severity of their crime) which is like their bail money. The community of peers would then review the behavior in question and vote. If they were convicted, then the bail money would be split among the voters and police. If they were acquitted, then the bail money would be returned, and their record would be cleared.

There are probably a few holes in my idea. However, it’s just a first pass at creating a blockchain-based judicial system that isn’t just a replica of our current justice system.