For anybody who is not familiar with online multi-player gaming, that's all you might get out of this post, but for the rest of you, I think I have a way of explaining the situation: Age of Consent Laws are Newbie Protection.
People under the age of 18 simply aren't on the same playing field as those who are older- they joined the game late, and they're competing against more experienced players who have the advantage of a good head start.
We all know how important a good head start can be in these games. Against a newbie, you have a lot more familiarity with the game, more resources, and all the psychological advantages this brings.
This is likewise true in life.
Note that I mention "experience" as an important factor in life, I'm not talking strictly about sex- I'm talking about life in general, and the many facets of it.
There are an unfortunate number of 12 year-old prostitutes in the world who have had WAY more sex with MANY more partners than I had by the time I was 20, but if somehow I was dating one* back when I was 20, I'm pretty sure I could have dominated the relationship, to the point where they wouldn't have a fighting chance. Simply because I knew more about people and how they work, as well as more about biology, psychology, and life in general. Not to mention that I'd be the one bringing in and/or handling the money in the relationship, and financial power is a large factor in control.
None of this would actually be a problem IF people were good-natured and purely benevolent as a rule- if an older player takes a younger player under his/her wing in gaming, it can be beneficial for the younger person to learn from a more experienced player.
Unfortunately, that is not how the vast majority of people behave in actual relationships and interactions.
In reality, the same thing would happen to (and does happen to) newbies in life that happens in gaming- they get Farmed.
Only in life the repercussions are greater; there can be (and is) real psychological and even physical harm that occurs.
There are plenty of people in the gaming community that argue against newbie protection. These people almost exclusively fall into two categories:
1. More experienced gamers who want to be able to farm the newbs with ease and impunity.
2. Newbs who think that they can hold their own against the rest of the players who have a significant head start on them, and who think that Newbie Protection is condescending at best. Of course, they only think this because they are newbs. Anybody who actually knows anything about the game knows that the difference in starting times can make all the difference in the world, and that it creates such an uneven playing field that the game would be ruined if newbs didn't have rules protecting them from the more established players.
From what I can tell, these two categories are the same people who argue against age of consent laws: the unscrupulous farmers, and the newbs who don't understand the game.
*And I'm not for a moment suggesting that I would do this, now or when I was 20! This is a purely hypothetical situation based on the premise that I had dramatically less scruples and a sexual appetite for children.