Wired just published a very interesting story about the ever-expanding fronts in the War on Terror. Guess what has the Men in Black pissing their pants now? Virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft. According to the article, a researcher made a presentation which simulated a terrorist plot being hatched from within Azeroth and which scared the bejeebers out of the attendees. The article said:
“The American military and intelligence communities are increasingly worried that would-be bin Ladens might gather in a virtual world, to plan a real-life attack. But the spies haven’t given many details, about how it might be done. Now, a Pentagon researcher has laid out how such a terror plot might unfold. The planning ground is World of Warcraft. The main target of this possibly nuclear strike: the White House.”
The plot is detailed as follows:
“In it, two World of Warcraft players discuss a raid on the “White Keep” inside the “Stonetalon Mountains.” The major objective is to set off a “Dragon Fire spell” inside, and make off with “110 Gold and 234 Silver” in treasure. “No one will dance there for a hundred years after this spell is cast,” one player, “war_monger,” crows. Except, in this case, the White Keep is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. “Dragon Fire” is an unconventional weapon. And “110 Gold and 234 Silver” tells the plotters how to align the game’s map with one of Washington, D.C.”
Am I the only one that thinks this is A. overreacting and B. damned scary for us geeks??? How long will it take to have a CIA operative infiltrated in each WoW server, for example, spying on all we do there? There is a huge chunk of geeks that spend a lot of their lives in virtual worlds, some of them even meeting their soul mates and marrying people they meet online. It’s scary to think that one of the best, and most cherished, refuges for geeks in the world is probably going to be riddled with overachieving g-men with trigger-happy subpoenas. Can you imagine joking around about nuclear holocausts in Badlands chat (OMG, this is so like Montana after the Big One hitz!), only to have two dudes in dark suits knocking on your door to take you away to a nice white-collared resort after having traced your IP?
I know it’s far fetched, but not inconceivable in a panic-ridden, post 9/11 world. (Our very own Germán and a group of geek friends on their way to Otakon were carted off to interrogation and held for hours, after somebody said they looked suspicious. I am not kidding, this actually happened.)
Doesn’t the CIA have better things to do than playing MMOs…like, maybe getting intelligence right?
Also, isn’t it time for the U.S. government to stop giving terrorists ideas?
On the other hand, maybe if those CIA dudes had a bit more experience in PvP battlegrounds they would have caught bin Laden years ago.