Friday, April 11, 2008

Guest Post by Irish Diablo

Playtime Gone Political: Candidates trying to WoW voters?
By IrishDiablo

Last night I was playing World of Warcraft (WoW) for an hour or so before heading to bed. For those of you who are unfamiliar with WoW, it is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game or MMORPG for short. Essentially, it is video game that is designed around an expansive, virtual world. WoW has an enormous world-user-base which now surpasses 9 million subscribers and has become much more than just a game, in fact, a good number of players now "log on" more to socialize than they do to play.

Well, while I was playing last night, traversing through a high-level dungeon with 4 of my online cronies when I received a "whisper", which is a message directly sent to you on an individual level. The whisper came from a scrambled username which immediately tells me that I am going to be solicited with the opportunity to buy in-game money with real money, or perhaps to pay a leveling service to play my character for me for a small, non-negotiable fee. To my surprise, this is the message that was sent to me:

"Democrat or Republican, you have to agree that our World is in danger. The current war in Iraq is the fuse that is going to ignite society into rampant chaos and ultimately lead to the bane of our existence. I want you to ask yourself who you feel would be the best-qualified Candidate to help put an end to this possibility. The Candidate you are most convinced has the tools to extinguish this wave of destruction and begin to reform Global Peace. We both know in our heart of hearts who that one Candidate is, (D) Sen. Hillary Clinton. Be smart! Vote for freedom, prosperity and the prevention of global destruction. Vote for Hillary."

Everything I had been doing up until that point came to a screeching halt. I asked my party members if they had ever been politically solicited in WoW and they all make that "thank God, no" noise that people make when they are relieved. When I told them about the message, one of the guys asked if I responded. At first I figured there was no sense in responding because such solicitations are usually transmitted by a "bot" or web robot, an application designed to run automated tasks anonymously. But after someone else suggested it too, I figured I'd take a stab at a reply. Here is the very-short conversation I had...

Me - Hello, are you there?

Unknown - Yes

Me - Are you aware of the fact that your solicitation is against the policy of the publisher's of this game and that you are in complete violation of their laws?

Unknown - Yes, but the fate of our nation is far more important than some silly game rules.

Me - Don't you find it to be horrible representation for your candidate by blatantly disregarding the rules of the medium in which you are using?

Unknown - Sometimes rules need to be bent or broken in order to get the job done.

Me - Such as lying to an entire nation about being under sniper fire when in fact your visit to a foreign country is just as plush as a visit to Club Med?

Unknown - (no response)

Me - Ok, I'm sure you're tired of hearing about that. So what qualities does Hillary Clinton possess that leads you to believe she is the one to save our world.

Unknown - Communication has been neglected in the current Presidency. There have been no attempts made to negotiate, to find common ground, to find a suitable solution that wouldn't require our military occupying their land.

Me - Are you serious? Everyone knows you don't negotiate with terrorists. That shit you see in the movies is so beyond fiction, they have Americans believing that shit actually works. Well guess what? There is no Rambo, no Terminator, no superhuman savior who is going to solve the World's problems in 1 hour and 58 minutes.

Unknown - We have negotiated in the past and maintained peace.

Me - Yeah, and I have at times swept dirt under the rug, but I'll be damned if it still wasn't there a few weeks later. Now, I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want to lift a rug someday and find terrorists under there.

Unknown - Goodbye.

After that, I couldn't get a single reply. I even had other people try to whisper the anonymous username and they too received no reply. I'm not sure what pissed me off more, the fact that I had a campaign solicitation forced upon me through a video game or the fact that it was for Hillary Clinton. No, I know what pissed me off. It was the fact that almost 45 minutes later I got a message from a GM (Gamemaster) warning me about my use of profanity? Excuse me? ...

Me - Well, excuse me for being profane, but I just received a f***ing political solicitation which I am certain violates your online user policy, from an account that will undoubtedly be deleted as before you get a dime out of them. It may even be gone now. So tell me, are you more concerned with protecting a cowardly, anonymous user spreading political propaganda against the rules of your service from a paying customer, or the reverse? Because I'm sure I can find another use for my $15 dollars each month, perhaps towards lawyer fees when I sue your company.

A few minutes went by and I received the following message: "I apologize for my previous action. I was unaware of the context in which the conversation took place. Please be aware that we do not permit SPAM of any form to be transmitted to our user-base using our system. We are aware that this is now an issue and we are looking into it. Thank you for remaining a valued customer of Blizzard Entertainment. Have a great day."

Now, I know there is nothing they can do to prevent this from happening again. It's as simple as starting a free trial account, using the multiple methods of finding users currently active and online and having a "bot" ready to begin spamming them. In my case, it turned out to be a real person. Well, "real" is an understatement.

I just wish that I could have actually seen their character on my screen to see what race they were. It would have been fitting for them to be a Troll.
~ ID

No comments: