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World of Warcraft is a social phenomenon that is completely unique in the entire span of the human experience. Millions of people inhabit a virtual universe that exists outside the constraints of the physical world. Many people become so preoccupied with the game that they lose jobs, friends, and spouses. Sociologists have suggested that video games like World of Warcraft might help fulfill some primal desire to hunt that is hard wired into our brain.

This weekend, a hacker exploited a weakness in the game and eviscerated hundreds of users and entire cities within the game. It immediately reminded me of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah from the Christian bible where God sends an angel to destroy two cities which are so morally corrupted that they must be completely purged. It begs the question: did the hacker feel the same way about World of Warcraft? Are the users so rotten that they too are beyond saving?

Blizzard was able to repair the damage to the game within about 4 hours. In an official statement, they acknowledged that they had not contacted the police about the incident. They did ask users for information that might identify the hacker. I don’t believe this particular hacker actually meant to destroy the game. Killing a character is only a minor nuisance because you can just re-spawn with hardly any consequence. The more obvious ways to do any meaningful damage would have been to attack the monetary system within the game or to completely reset characters on the server. Resetting a character would negate hundreds of hours of work. If this had been the case, many users might have left WOW and cancelled their subscriptions, never to return. I’m sure Blizzard has safeguards in place to keep this from happening. Also if you are looking for another online gaming experience check

Eventually, a new and better game will be released and users will migrate away from World of Warcraft. Video games will continue to enthrall and ensnare us. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, since people keep playing different games as multiplayer or casino games like baccarat online where people can gamble online. What we’re left with is a whole generation of socially inept hermits with skills that don’t translate to the real world. If they ever catch the hacker, chances are he’ll pay a hefty fine. He might even serve some jail time. History might see him in a different light. I imagine him sitting in filthy room, pizza boxes piled 4 feet high, hundreds of empty Mountain Dew bottles strewn across the floor, when suddenly he had a moment of clarity. Maybe he was only trying to set us free.

October 12th, 2012

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