Friday, 12 June 2015

Blurred Lines

We live in an increasingly harsh world, with much of the globe subject to an almost arbitrary threat of violence and death from Terrorists, Jihadist state builders, or even the State, and things are often much the same in the worlds of the web. Many of the best selling games involve killing monsters, game constructs, and or other players in combat of some sort.

But in a move that may have crossed some sort of virtual reality Rubicon, the web has witnessed its first 'state' organised execution. It occurred in the world of 'Guild Wars 2', a game of which I have no playing knowledge, but which professes to be an immersive role playing world, in which combat is just one of the possibilities, although admittedly its the most likely of them. 

However mayhem was brought to this land of combat, when a rather successful character turned out to be controlled by a hacker. The character, called 'DarkSide' was made virtually invincible, and over the course of three weeks in April and May 2015, used a series of 'code exploits', in which the  character was able to teleport, deal out massive damage, and survive either co-ordinated attacks by other players, or win all player-versus-player single combats. 

Needless to say, this caused chaos, as people who really should get out more, found that their own characters, often with skills and powers carefully honed over hours of game play, were wiped from the world map. These disgruntled players gathered evidence about the trouble this hacker had caused and many posted videos of DarkSide's antics on YouTube. Finally the games creators, ArenaNet, were forced to react, and this is where a geeky tale turns creepy, they organised the rogue characters 'execution'.

RIP Darkside ... Justice Will Be Served

Firstly the game's security staff identified the rogue hacker/player, wresting their account from them and punishing them in the form of a death sentence being pronounced in the games forums. The character was then stripped to its underwear, then forced to leap to its 'death' from a high bridge in one of the game's cities. It also shows the character being deleted by security .... no really, that's what happened.

No details were given on how the hacker managed to exploit the game or whether these loopholes and vulnerabilities have now been patched. As you might guess this dramatic punishment has sparked much comment amongst 'Guild Wars' players (and outside, as the story was picked up by news outlets), with some saying it felt like "justice".

With 15% of divorces in the real world citing partners addiction to online virtual reality worlds as the cause of the breakdowns, or in one much cited example, her husbands online 'affair' with another character in the game 'Second Life' as the cause of her divorce request, the thin line for some people between the real and the virtual worlds is increasingly becoming blurred. 

What a strange world (real or otherwise) we now live in ....


  1. Fortunately I'm not a computer-game player so am spared virtual injustice on top of real life injustices. I am tempted by Red Dwarf's Better Than Life game, but as it doesn't yet exist I don't run the risk of getting trapped inside.

    1. I am simply crap at them, and usually die inside the first few minutes .... so I never get trapped!


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