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Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are – if you’ll excuse the tautology – massively popular.
The likes of Guild Wars 2 have sold millions of copies, and claim to have more than 460,000 people playing at any one time – more than the population of Iceland – making them a certifiable success story.
However, that doesn’t mean the addictive online game universes don’t suffer their fair share of scammers, fraudsters and hackers just like the rest of the internet.
Guild Wars 2 is in the news right now, after a hacker’s online character was sentenced to death after being found cheating.
Multiple complaints were made on the Guild Wars 2 message forums, complaining about an in-game character called DarkSide.
DarkSide was said to be terrorizing other players, using exploits to teleport his way around the gaming world, inflicting severe damage on others and surviving attacks designed to bring him down.
Aggrieved players even went so far as to record videos of DarkSide’s antics, and eventually Chris Cleary of AreaNet’s security team stepped in as judge, jury and… err… executioner.
We don’t need to see it in-game, sometimes good video evidence is enough for me to track down who it was. In this case, the video was enough for me to find out who it was and take action. Thanks for the video, and to accompany your video, I give you this video of his account’s last moments:
Oh yah, he’s also banned
That’s right. Cleary didn’t just erase DarkSide’s account and ban the hacker from playing the game any longer with other characters (one assumes he did this by blocking an IP address), but he actually hijacked the offending character, stripped it down to its underpants, and made it jump from a high building.
All recorded, perhaps as a warning to others, on video:
At the time of writing, over 930,000 people have watched the in-game execution video.
Some have said that they felt the very public punishment meted out to the hacker’s character was wrong, but others have defended the decision saying that it sends a message to others that their anti-social activities will not be tolerated:
“Public humiliation is one way to prevent people from doing bad things. I think Chris Cleary is a hero. I wish we had videos like this for every hacker who gets banned so we can watch them, celebrate, and wait for them to come back on their new $10 account.”
Of course, DarkSide is just one of the many hackers making games like Guild Wars 2 less enjoyable for everyone else. Not all of them may receive such a public execution, and it’s easy to imagine that the security teams of popular MMORPGs find it an impossible task to keep up with all of the abuse that is taking place.
In the past, Guild Wars’ creator ArenaNet has warned users of security risks after multiple accounts were hacked by gold sellers selling stolen virtual goods for real cash.
Further reading: Don’t get zombified! Security tips for PC gamers
Author Graham Cluley, We Live Security