Now, I’m not the least surprised by this story… That the US government want to supervise the online world of videogame. As we speak they are developing software to implement in online games like World of Warcraft (probably this one first cause it’s the biggest game) to scan and profile the behaviour of the players. I bet what they really want is access to the whole shit (like conversations databases and such), but fortunately they won’t. They want to studiy the culture for those worlds to be able to detect abnormalities in the player behaviour. All this to raise the possibilities to intervene when suspicious behaviour is detected, to prevent future terrorism attacks or other scenarios like school shootings. Admirable as that may be to prevent those tragic events; I think the MMO are pretty much a dead end. Not to mention my strong objection against governments, authorities and corporate involvement with the online gaming sphere.
As previously pointed out, I strongly oppose anything that have any what so ever resemblance with a “Big Brother” society. And in the case with games and online worlds, this new medium open up the possibilities for the player to chose his/her way of playing the game and behave exactly how he/she wants, without worrying what the consequences will be. It our free-zone, where we can relax, but at the same time the games and worlds have their own rules and culture. And as my friends pointed out: a big part of many of the worlds is to battle and kill monsters and other players!
At the moment I’m finishing reading Freakonomics, and one point that I remember is that our focus on what´s dangerous or harmful for us, often is wrong. Our memories, social conventions, norms and misconceptions created by the media often fool us to think rationally, maybe too much. But our rationality is based on our experiences, both in real life and what the media reports, the later often not entirely true. Our perception of the world around us is built on these two factors.
When it comes to worries and paranoia about danger and what could happened, we often trust our experience and rationality. As the author of Freakonomics points out parents don’t usually view a house with a pool more dangerous compared to a house with a gun in it, when statistics say that more kids die every year from drowning than gun fire. Again people focus on the wrong problem usually.
So what connection do I have here between our clouded rationality thinking & view on society and the focus on supervising MMO? Different worlds, reality escape and freedom! What I talked about above, that what is viewed as normal vs. suspect behaviour in real life have no correlations with the online worlds. In the online worlds, its inhabitants create the rules, norms and social conventions. Yes, today World of Warcraft is the biggest today, but new worlds come and go, and everytime the parameters evolve, depending on the players, the theme of the game/world and many more factors. When world don’t have “standardised” norms, conventions or culture, the work in building a “algorithm” on data from the biggest for automatic abnormality detection never ends, and always resets once a new world start. And people don’t want to be monitored! Sure, the medium can be used for real life conversations and discussions, which can include terrorism planning, but then again, they won’t get access to the personal conversations log. So the development is pointless! It just feel like a excuse to gain access and “control” over the new medium, the unknown and a place the government can’t control. It doesn’t help ether then media portray games and online world and focus on the wrong aspect. Why won’t the government realise that they can’t supervise and control every little fucking bit of our life!? Just leave us the fuck alone…!