Friday, December 3, 2010

World of Warcraft "Information Brokers" Wrack Servers

Amid the chaos of the Wikileaks release, information warfare rages on in World of Warcraft. With well over 12 million subscribers, guilds recruit an overwhelming amount of new transfers, reaping the harvest of the altoholics and re-rolls. One can remain pretty anonymous in the internet with care, but in a game like World of Warcraft, community plays a huge role in competition and progression in the game.

It is inevitable that most players will be involved with a guild or a group in the community at some point during their playtime. Roleplaying servers depend on an interconnected and thriving community for RP to function, and it is no different on PvE or PvP realms.

A group of players who identify with “The Shadowbroker” of Bioware’s runaway hit series Mass Effect have begun to collect and sell personal information of players that they encounter on a daily basis in the game. This information is socially engineered out of players, and anything from telephone numbers to the names of the player’s secret alts are sold for both in-game and real currency to prospective buyers.

The group rolls a series of level one characters with the guild on World of Warcraft’s most populated servers. Secretly, these people could be anything from high-profile guild leaders to the inactive 80’s sapping information from guild Ventrilos. When they take up the ***** of Shadow Broker, a client need only say the name of the player, and for a price, they will learn all of the information that the shadowy collective has acquired about the person in question.

The Shadow Brokers as a group claim to operate for the purpose of self-interest. Some members of the group claim that they sell the information for revenge, or to divulge the secrets of some player to start a flame war or to cause trouble between long-distance couples in the game. Whatever the reason, it is certain that the Shadow Brokers command influence on World of Warcraft’s player base. Several guilds on Moon Guard (US) have expelled some of their leading officers over information supposedly gained by the Shadow Brokers.

In my interview with Nasteez, a level 1 gnomish Shadow Broker on the Muradin server, I asked him what kind of information he is willing to sell.

“Anything,” he responded to me, “We collect phone numbers, personal information, and their in-game hobbies, where they hang out.” He goes on to comment, “Roleplayers are the easiest to track down.”

This has raised concern with parents, who have posted threads on their child’s realm forums multiple times. Needless to say, the Shadow Broker group is becoming a relatively underground but serious issue in the World of Warcraft community.

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