When I made my earlier Homeland Securing WoW post, part of me had the thinking that it was plausible. Then again, I was also of the opinion that it was part of the standard, “fear every shadow” mentality that is actually fostered in intelligence operations, especially post-9/11.
But, as this article in Wired points out, this latest installment of America’s defense/intelligence establishment seriously thinking that Osama and his deranged pallies – no pun intended to my “default” class (but then again, aren’t Fedayeen and Mujahedin the Islamic equivalents of Paladins?) – will spend time in Azeroth planning a real-life Raid on, say, the White House is… incredulous.
Well, ok. To the average Joe or Jose out there, it would sound like someone drinking too much Thunderbew Lager. But as someone who once was involved in intel ops, you know that the mindset cultivated is one of paranoia: you cannot disregard anything that might possibly be a threat.
And I can understand the assertion that one can never really know what goes on in the nooks and crannies of MMORPGs. I talked once to a GM of RF Online Philippines about how some buggers and hackers can still get away with their illegal actions, and she told me that they can’t be everywhere all the time, even with augmentation from the Vanguards. And this is RF. WoW is… what? A hundred times bigger than RF?
I was playing last night in Anetheron, busy finishing quests in Un’goro Crater. I would spend hours romping through maps in Anetheron without encountering a single Hordie or even my fellow Allies; my PvPs happen in “hot zones” like Stranglethorn, or Tanaris, but even in a preferred grind area like Un’goro (for low- to mid-50s), I’ve bumped into no more than two or three others players in all the time I’ve been there.
So I guess I can understand the concern over the Pentagon over all of this. But like what the article said, its not like WoW is the only media out there where this can be done. Hellfire, like I said in my earlier post, if you want to practice a strike, RF would be better; we NUKE each other for fun there, after all! And we have Suicide Bombers there! I do believe that Bin Laden would LOVE to have something like the Accretian Desolators and Annihilators in his arsenal.
I haven’t crunched numbers and sloshed through data to give any solid assertion that Al Qaida terrorists plotting to send the United States President and a couple of civilians to Kingdom Come would find an increase in effectiveness if they do their meeting and planning in Azeroth. In my experience in operations and planning, you look for avenues where you will be effective with the smallest amount of effort and resources to get the job done, since complexities and unnecessary costs can and will increase the likelihood of failure or (in the case of terrorists, who necessarily operate in the shadows) discovery.
I mean, why do it in WoW? Why shouldn’t Al Qaida or its flunkies don’t chat instead? Or make a secure forum? Using WoW, or any MMORPG, as a medium for preparing a terrorist strike only makes sense to me if and only if that MMORPG can allow them to actually simulate the strike. If there’s a MMORPG out there named, “Real World”, where AIs and piloted NPCs mimic real life conditions of a target to high levels of detail, then I would be concerned, too.
But how do you mimic a strike on the White House, or the insertion of a sub-tac nuke, in a major US city, in WoW? See how easy it would be to slip in someone with, say, Exploding Sheep, into Stormwind or Durotar? Will one of the common assaults into Ironforge actually be a Qaida dress rehersal for the real thing?!
Seriously. A little paranoia is expected in intel and defense ops, but… c’mon. I’d be more concerned with what people are doing in Second Life than in WoW.
You know, there are… saner ways for people to get free playtime, you know… 😄