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CSI: Cyber dives into the world of online gaming gun-running schemes with teens

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Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Last night's episode of CSI: Cyber, the newest police procedural spin-off of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, burrowed into the world of online video games and how they're frequently used to lure teens into running guns disguised as common household drills.

Episode 11 of the CBS drama, "Ghost in the Machine," used real-world game Blacklight: Retribution and fictional game console the GameVex as the source of a cyber crime mystery: Who is luring impressionable, young gamers into the illicit world of transporting one gun a time by stealing their Blacklight: Retribution virtual goods as blackmail and then shipping them seemingly innocent power drills? Who, the FBI's cyber crime division asks, is behind the nefarious handle Viper75?

Viper75 is the deep web arms dealer at the center of last night's episode of CSI: Cyber, which stars Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette as Special Agent in Charge Avery Ryan and James Van Der Beek as Elijah Mundo, a gamer dad himself. Ryan, like the rest of the CSI: Cyber team, knows a lot about video games and who plays them.

"The online gaming world is a haven for predators, pedophiles, sex offenders and radicalizers," Ryan says, pointing out facts that anyone who plays video games already knows. "They hide behind their handles to make friends with their kids to earn their trust."

And when a scared teen runs from the FBI when approached for questioning, he suffers a serious injury while trying to make a jump that would seem perfectly possible in, say, Blacklight: Retribution. This, Ryan explains to the audience, is what's called game transfer phenomena, when players experience involuntary impulses to perform gaming actions in the real world after immersing themselves in video games. Some folks call it the Tetris effect.

There's a lot of good information about video games and the dangers they pose to teens in the episode, which you can stream on You might also learn what a "supercookie" is and how they're used to track criminals posing as harmless gamers with sick killshot ratios.

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