Tuesday, August 19, 2008

how will cyberwarfare affect gamers?

Bruce Everiss raised the question. Russia is surely only one of many countries who have engaged in cyberwarfare already. The internet is ever-more influential on the daily affairs of citizens, let alone governments and economies. So the right question is not if cyberwars will affect gamers; it's how.

We're gamers, but we're not just gamers. We use the internet for other activities (shopping, billing, registrations, etc). But that's not the only reason I say gamers will be affected. There are motives to target gamers directly.

For one thing, intelligence and counter-intelligence organizations are sure to recognize eventually that online gaming is an excellent avenue for recruitment and misinformation. It's increasingly common for people to make deep personal connections with online acquaintances and extend their trust to those acquaintances, and the frequency of such connections crossing national boundaries is also growing.

At its most basic level, espionage in gaming communities can take the form of misinformation. We've all seen how easy it is to light the internet up like a firecracker with a simple, unsubstantiated rumor. Rumors about gaming are relatively harmless, but propoganda is a powerful element of warfare. Even if you place faith in the ability of online communities to dig for truth, you know how stubborn and close-minded people get when it comes to politics. Facts aren't everything in propoganda.

At the more sinister level, espionage in gaming can mean recruitment. Recruitment can be as simple as getting some immature 10-year-old excited about "fooling" all of his friends with misinformation, or it can be as complex as total conversion. Not everyone's careful in their doling of trust, and some people are yearning for a cause. Especially in today's world, there are plenty of individuals who rebel only for the sake of rebellion. And just like with software piracy, those participating in espionage often don't have to see or even hear about the people they hurt.

I was going to list some other motives, but that's already enough to get my point across, right? Gamers will be targeted, eventually. It's probably already happened.

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