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World Of Warcraft: Real Tyranny in a Virtual World July 10, 2010

Posted by scmla in Original Article.

World Of Warcraft: Real Tyranny in a Virtual World
SoCal Martial Law Alerts
July 10, 2010

The battle against the online equivalent of the implantable RFID chip has begun.

Earlier this week, Vivendi-owned Blizzard Entertainment announced that all World Of Warcraft (WOW) game forum users will require a REAL ID login in order to post their comments. The new identification requirement will begin with the release of the next game expansion, Cataclysm, which is due out later this year. The REAL ID login will require that a user’s real name be visible, thus ending all anonymous posting on WOW forums.

The announcement has drawn unprecedented anger and protests from gamers and privacy advocates alike. The debate has been further fueled by Blizzard’s censorship of forum users who compared the REAL ID login requirement to a similar system that China currently uses. Users who posted information about REAL ID as it pertains to the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act have also been banned from posting in the forums.

“The thread was deleted within 30-40 seconds, and I was banned in 1 minute and 7 seconds,” said a WOW forum user who posted a thread entitled: Real ID same as Communist China model.

Battling with Battle.net

The policy change came as a “natural progression” of Blizzard’s new Battle.net system, which is the login system that allows players to connect: Across multiple servers; to different online games within the Blizzard network; and even to social networks, such as Facebook.

Beginning in November 2009, WOW required the new Battle.net login to play, which includes the REAL ID option. The forum policy is an extension of the REAL ID login for game play, with the main difference being that forum users would not have the option to keep their real name hidden. Privacy advocates and gamers have expressed concern over the problems of identity disclosures, such as the ability for stalkers to acquire personal information and employers to track employees.

An ironic, real-life example of this dilemma occurred when Blizzard employee, Michael Whipple, revealed his real name on the WOW user forum and, within minutes, players had found his address, phone number, Facebook page and names of family members. All Whipple had to say for the privacy breach to occur was: “Michael Whipple, at your service. Like all employees I’ve been in every game manual and credit reel since I’ve been here.”

Military Industrial Complex

The video game industry has a long history with the military industrial complex.

For example, First Person Shooters is a genre of video games that was created for military training in order to increase a soldier’s trigger response.

WOW has been used in the past for a variety of military and scholarly studies — up to and including psyops (i.e. psychological operations) — because of its real-world modeling capability. The game has yielded virtual research results for scenarios such as: Epidemic outbreaks, economy modeling, behavioral psychology, and even terrorist plots.

In 2008, the US Army announced that they were interfacing artificial intelligence (AI) technology within the WOW game environment and law enforcement has used the game in the past to track and apprehend suspects.

Just this week, a virtual three-day training exercise was conducted in Everett, Washington by the Navy. The San Diego-based Tactical Training Group, Pacific practiced a war-game scenario in cyberspace while safely afloat the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.

Mark of the Beast

In order to “exist” online in the future: REAL ID (or an equally-invasive equivalent) will be required.

As in virtual psyops of old, the WOW community is now being used by the military industrial complex as a test case for the Internet equivalent of an RFID-chip / Mark-of-the-Beast type system, because once the REAL ID system (or something similar) is in place, all online activities via Internet 2 will be fully tracked and traced in real time in the name of “safety and security.”

Final Battle

The final battle for Internet freedom has fully begun.

If gamers acquiesce to the demand for REAL ID (and many will), this seemingly-small act of obeisance will seal humanity’s fate toward involuntary “voluntary” compliance and the inevitable slide into a control-grid system that will track, trace and database every possible communication, behavior and interaction in both the real and virtual worlds.

Thankfully, some gamers are not yet inured to the threat. Hear one WOW player’s eloquent battle cry:

“Sons of Azeroth, of Kalimdor, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same disgust that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of gamers fails, when we forsake our dignity and break all bonds of security, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered pride, when the age of privacy comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good internet, I bid you unsubscribe, Men of the Forums!”

UPDATE: After over 50,000 forum posts in protest, unprecedented account cancellations and several industry articles condemning the suggested REAL ID measures, Blizzard Entertainment announced that they had changed their policy and will make REAL ID optional when Cataclysm is released. The official Battle.net Real ID FAQ, however, still shows the original policy that Blizzard will require a first and last name to post on the forums. While privacy advocates and players are heralding the retraction as a victory, many players say they “no longer trust” Blizzard and fear that the REAL ID requirement will come up again at a later date.


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