NSA Snooping on Gamers

NSA Snooping on Gamers

Brett Pizzi, Writer

The place you would never expect to find government agencies poking around, your own home consoles and online games has become a reality. Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee who leaked up to 200,000 documents to the press early in 2013, has leaked more NSA documents, revealing that government spies searching for “plain sight terrorists” in popular games such as World of Warcraft and online services such as Xbox Live.
World of Warcraft, the online video game played by millions, puts the players in an RPG setting where they can compete for treasure, fight players and monsters, and gain glory among their online peers. With upwards of 12 million online paying members, Blizzard Entertainment, the creator of World of Warcraft, said in a statement that it is “unaware of any surveillance taking place. If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission.” This shows that the NSA has taken it upon themselves to spy on the gaming community without giving anyone any knowledge of the task, even the creators of the games.
A NSA memo from 2008 called online gaming a “target-rich communications network” where terrorists could communicate “in plain sight.” This is implying that, while most gamers are simply just discussing events in the game, other groups are trying to form terrorist plots in the open, fooling all those around them.
This trend tracking and following gaming activities and conservations has put some gamers in distress and has caused gamers to shy away from keeping up with online gaming, due to fear of being tracked.
“I feel like the thing I do to unwind (playing video games) is only going to stress me out more,” Zak Dewan, junior, said. “I’m going to constantly feel like I am being watched… I wasn’t a big gamer to start off but I certainly won’t be purchasing a new system due to this”
Other gamers who play online believe that NSA’s reviewing of gamer’s information online won’t take away from gaming at all, many knowing that records have been kept of their chat logs.
“I don’t really feel affected. First of all, this has already been going on in PC gaming and PC use for years…” Greg Harmon, junior, said. “For the real gamers who have known this was going on all along, they will probably still continue to play online just as much,”
Gamers are looking at this occurrence as having little to no affect on their trends. Gaming is still just as alive as it was before this news was leaked. Most Gamers simply don’t care that the NSA is tracking what they have to say, because what they have to say isn’t incriminating in anyway.
“I could care less (that they listen).” Brandon Douglas, Junior, says. “I’m not a very important person; I’ll stay online and play games because why not? What are they going to track, my trash talk? My kills or deaths? The gaming market is too big for this to just fall over, we aren’t going to stop”
Gamers are going to continue playing their games until a more threatening reason is given for them to stop. Keeping tracks of logs or chat that only pertain to the game aren’t going to deter gamers away from doing what they love. In the end, the NSA may just be asking for an excuse to play video games at work.