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The Pentagon, MMORPGs, and Catching Osama 321

MarkRH writes "I know, it looked like a troll to me too. But apparently a Pentagon-funded group, the Highlands Forum, is investigating the possibility of fighting terrorism by postulating that terrorist networks are similar to the online communities found in MMORPGs. By studying interaction within a community like Everquest, the military hopes to find hints on how to crack Al Qaeda." See also the "Uncloaking Terrorist Networks" post of several months back.
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The Pentagon, MMORPGs, and Catching Osama

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  • MMORPGs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by intermodal ( 534361 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:54PM (#4947385) Homepage Journal
    Personally, with the comments traded between gamers, i'm a little uncomfortable with anti-terrorist types studying gamers. Something that is commonly said in jest could easily be taken out of context by these government personnel and blown way out of proportion...
    • Re:MMORPGs (Score:3, Insightful)

      by helix400 ( 558178 )
      Something that is commonly said in jest could easily be taken out of context by these government personnel and blown way out of proportion...

      Perhaps by studying jesting remarks in games, anti-terrorism investigators will better understanding real vs. joking threats in real life.

      Besides, this is a study of social behavior, not an Everquest anti-terror crackdown. They're not looking for Osama bin Laden's online character.

      Personally, I think it would be a blast if the feds EXPANDED their Everquest study, such as practicing their infiltrartion method by putting moles inside Everquest groups for intelligence, or secretly picking off key characters. It would add a whole new dimension to the game. =)

      • They're not looking for Osama bin Laden's online character.

        Still, I can't help but laugh at the thought of it:

        "Sir, we've found him! He's playing EQ right now, under the character 'Jihad' as a Level 60 Shadow Knight!"

        ".....Damn! Look at that...he just 0wn3d that Level 60 Paladin in PvP!"
    • Re:MMORPGs (Score:2, Insightful)

      by aeronaut ( 126444 )
      No, this is real stuff. One of the hot research topics in dynamical systems is network structures.
      I think it was Stanley Milgram that did the famous "Six Degrees of Separation" experiment. People like Steve Strogatz and Duncan Watts have followed up on that with small world networks, scale free networks, etc. These network structures appear in places like the electrical power grid for southern California, the neural network of the flatworm C. Elegans, and the network of movie actors (the Kevin Bacon game.) See Duncan Watts's web site for more (and more accurate) information.

      So I think studying the networks in games like Everquest is a great idea. I don't think that they think they will actually start to pick up coded messages from real terrorist cells, but rather they want to see how these people interact and connect in the network. And this is not the pentagon themselves, but a funded think tank doing the work. Big difference.

      Anyway, if the Feds start busting Everquest players, I'll be laughing my ass off. But I don't expect it to happen. However, the rich structure of the networks formed in these MMORPGs has to be worth at least a look.

      Regards,
      Martin Melhus
      (aeronaut)
    • Re:MMORPGs (Score:4, Interesting)

      by zaibutsu ( 211524 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @06:12PM (#4947967)
      This warning is about 40 years too late.

      UK SF fans used to be quite involved in postal Diplomacy. One of them was late orgsanising his moves once and sent a telegram to a potential ally reading "suggest we join forces for an attack on Liverpool".

      He spent the following day deep in conversation with gentlemen wearing black raincoats.
  • Riiiight (Score:5, Funny)

    by MattW ( 97290 ) <matt@ender.com> on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:54PM (#4947387) Homepage
    Finally, the age-old question is answered:

    How can we play Everquest all day and get paid for it?
  • I wonder.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:57PM (#4947422)
    If PKers will now be called terrorists.
  • Doubtful (Score:3, Funny)

    by GodHead ( 101109 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:58PM (#4947427) Homepage
    I doubt terrorists have the same immeadiate and direct communication that exists in on-line games. The less communication, the less chance for discovery.

    In any case, I know MMORPG players. The only thing they accomplish in the real world is living in the basement and drinking Dew. Hell set up suspected terrorists with an EQ subscription and the only they they'll blow up in orcs.
  • by craenor ( 623901 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:59PM (#4947437) Homepage
    Is to subject them to l337 sp34k all day. U.S. pwnz Bin L4d3n.
  • Not that crazy... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Al-Qaeda is a loosely affiliated network of nodes trying to acheive a similar goal across large distances and online MMORPG is pretty analagous(when speaking in terms of mathematical models). I'm sure there are a few insights to be had.

    -
    • So they should study beowulf clusters and the scientific community too?

      Fine with me; anything that will burn off those defense dollars I'm happy with.
  • Here's an *idea* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:00PM (#4947447) Journal
    Fight terrorism by addressing the reason *why* these people are driven a level of frustration that would cause them to commit such acts.

    Ask the average Joe on the street (in the US) about why September 11th happened and you'll hear something like, "evil doer". This befuddles me. These people aren't driven by pure evil but rather extreme frustration. Until the root of their frustration is addressed, I wouldn't be surprised if this continues forever.
    • by spasm ( 79260 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:02PM (#4947471) Homepage
      it's the 'war on terror' concept that really screws with my head - declaring war on a *technique*? way to make sure you never have to stop..
      • by Fyz ( 581804 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:42PM (#4947732)
        Which probably is exactly what Bush wants... A never ending cold war on an enemy not only remote, but formless and without voice.

        US citizens have an admirable quality of backing their leader in crisis situations, which he can exploit by basically doing whatever he wants...

        Like making a war over oil..

        Or calling anybody who disagrees with him a terrorist..

        Or screwing the environmental issues(which are bad for business) by giving their much-needed funding to the military..
        • Which probably is exactly what Bush wants... A never ending cold war on an enemy not only remote, but formless and without voice.

          I've been saying ever since September 12th that we'll never catch Osama bin Laden. Even if we do catch him, we won't admit to it. He's a name and face for the enemy, and he does the government more good "presumed alive and up to no good" than he does "confirmed dead". After all, if the enemy is dead, why continue the war?

      • Re:Here's an *idea* (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:53PM (#4947820) Homepage Journal
        The euphemism "war on terror" is necessary because calling it "war on Islamic terrorists" or "war on Islamic fundamentalists" would get the administration in deep, deep doodoo. Politically, it's necessary to avoid looking like they are opposed to Islam. Muslims around the world already half believe that the US really is out to war on them.

        There was some talk for a while that the War on Terror would apply to anybody using terror techniques, such as the Irish Republican Army, but that's an idea that went nowhere fast. Their opponents, therefore, are primarily Muslims, but not all Muslims.

        So America-bashing and Bush administration-bashing aside (and I'm not a big fan myself, having voted for the other guy), the administration is faced with the fact that a small subset of essentially very good people is committing despicable acts in the name of those good people. These people are afraid of being punished for the sins of a few. Their support is crucial, and the US in general prefers to make friends rather than enemies. This is an incredibly untenable position for the US government. I'm hard pressed to come up with a better name for the effort, even if it is an obvious euphemism.
        • by daigu ( 111684 )

          How about "war on Al Qaeda"? You can only "win" a war if you can identify the enemy and you can identify objectives - like kill or capture 80% of leadership, reduce cash flows of the network by 90%, eliminate all training facilities, etc. "War on terrorism" is a euphemism like "war on drugs" - which is effectively a war on the freedoms of the American people.

          There was a fairly interesting interview with a group of foriegn policy experts that describe themselves as "realists" on NPR (with Ira Glass?) that make a pretty convincing argument that the very lack of definition of a "war on terror" is undermining the efforts. In the interview, these experts provided a number of interesting facts to support their position. For example, only 40% of the Al Qaeda leadership is in custody and that the network still has the capabilities to deliver devestating style attacks.

          While I do not know if this is true, there seems to be every indication that the current approach is being bungled - part of that is because the objectives (and enemies) are not well-defined.

      • Geez, it isn't rocket science.
        This is a war to establish quite firmly that
        the technique known as terrorism will not work.
    • These people aren't driven by pure evil but rather extreme frustration

      You forgot to add "and a massive dose of ignorance and intolerance." Of course I just described fanatics of all shapes, sizes, and colors whether it be terrorists, right-wing fundamentalists, or richard stallman (sorry couldn't resist).
      • Uh-oh, look out. Better hold it down 'cause they shut you down when you speak from your heart. Especially if you diss RMS... though that's really like invoking you know who around here with how people leap to the defense like they just got pricked in the ass. No, with a pin.

        Now it is worth mentioning that America is probably just as ignorant as anyone else. Just because we have access to media doesn't mean that it's unbiased; even if you assume there ARE unbiased media sources out there, I think it's safe to say that they are not consumed by the average American. They are content to believe what they see on their local news most of the time. A few enlightened individuals (ironically, mostly former soldiers) know that our government is patently full of shit and tells the media what they're allowed to say about a war or police action or what have you, for the most part.

        I do think that your dig at fundies was unnecessary...

        Anyway it really is true that significant slices of these populations feel that the "decadent American life-style" is a sin against god (in whatever form they find it) and that we should die for our offenses. I think it would be stretching things to say that a majority of any population would prefer that "innocent" Americans should be killed, probably close to the same percentage here in the US who think we ought to go "nuke the ragheads" and similar shit I've heard plenty of. Of course, some dick in a turban did try to pull out in front of me in the parking lot at WinCo Foods the other night... kill the bastards!

        But it's true. We run around and shit on the world, we fuck with people to our own ends, and people die; some of our citizens, but many more of other nations'. That is NOT just, and even if we are working in the name of democracy and freedom (I think it's more like money most of the time; right now we're striking a blow for operational freedom more than anything however, clearing some obstacles out of our way so we can go on uncontested.)

    • take arafat (Score:2, Insightful)

      He pockets a BILLION dollars in aide money to his many bank accounts and then tells his people they are poor because of the evil west. Since you seem to be in touch with all these extremists please enlighten us why you find joy in having your children exploding in an attempt to hurt others? Notice its nobody middle aged or even old, just young kids that have been tought all their lives to hate the US. Now thats fucked up, using your children as ammunition to fight your war.

      Waiting for your reply.

    • by ivan256 ( 17499 )
      Fight terrorism by addressing the reason *why* these people are driven a level of frustration that would cause them to commit such acts.

      What do you do when one of the reasons these people are driven to frustration is that people of a certain gender are allowed freedoms that are offensive to said terrorists? Repeat that question to yourself and replace "gender" with "religion".

      What do you think the reason is? What's your simple solution?
      • Jealousy and fear of losing thier way of life to over simplify. Neutron bomb? There is no simple way to solve this. We have a group fearing the loss of thier culture and are correct to fear this. Slowly they are undergoing cultural erosion. They also see us as a "Great Evil". I only see a sort of death for them, or us. I do not want to see the world under a fundamentalist Islam. I despise thier attitudes towards women and people in general.
    • These people aren't driven by pure evil but rather extreme frustration. Until the root of their frustration is addressed, I wouldn't be surprised if this continues forever.

      osama bin laden and his organization wish to advance islamic fundamentalism as the answer to life's problems. he is frustrated in this task by the west because the west stands for a plurality of ideas, not fundamentalism, whether christian, hindu, islamic, jewish, or whatever form of fundamentalism, fundamentalism is not an acceptable basis for a government in the democratic west. that is the root of his frustration. so he attacks the west. and he attacks the west with terror, the surprise killing of civilians. there is the understanding you need. you may pursue further understanding if you like, but on the basis of these obvious truths, we have enough basis to condemn him as evil. "we" not being western christians, or even westerners, but human beings, islamic, christian, western, or otherwise.

      it's still evil.

      and it won't continue forever. it is only an endless cycle of violence to you if you don't believe in progress. progress means getting rid of fundamentally (no pun intended) evil people. if you do not consider someone like osama bin laden evil, whether you make a cursory effort at understanding him, or a ten year doctoral thesis level effort at understanding him, who do you think qualifies?
      • fundamentalism is not an acceptable basis for a government in the democratic west. that is the root of his frustration

        Interestingly enough, that is also the root of George W. Bush's frustration.
        • osama bin laden and his organization have reiterated their agenda of militant islamic fundamentalism time and time again.

          george w. bush is the elected leader of a pluralistic democratic country. if he has private religious views that inform his opinions, those views are bound by his advisors, the judicial and legislative branches of government, and the opinion of the american people.

          so not only is your assertion speculative, but even if it were true, it would be pointless.

          so pray tell, what exactly is your point?
          • "george w. bush is the elected leader of a pluralistic democratic country. if he has private religious views that inform his opinions, those views are bound by his advisors,"

            Fundamentalist idealoges.

            "the judicial "

            A court stacked with conservatives and about to be loaded with more fundamentalist Bush appointees.

            "and legislative branches of government"

            Which took as the message of the 2002 elections that being Bush's rubber stamp is a vote getter

            "and the opinion of the american people."

            We are doomed.......
            • if you insist on viewing all of the bounds on george w bush the man to be insufficient to filter out his point of view from the actions of the united states, pray tell, what glorious form of government have you thought up that is superior to democracy that satisfies your paranoid schizophrenia? or do you post out of cynical callowness rather than constructive observation? the value of your words should be adjusted accordingly, and that value should be zero in my view if i suppose right about your cynicism.
              • "if you insist on viewing all of the bounds on george w bush the man to be insufficient to filter out his point of view from the actions of the united states, pray tell, what glorious form of government have you thought up that is superior to democracy that satisfies your paranoid schizophrenia? "

                Democracy? I'm no expert on Switzerland (the only democracy I can think of off the top of my head) but they seem to do OK. You aren't one of those that thinks the US is one, are you? Ideally the US is a republic - which can work pretty well too. Nah, you use too many big words to be that uneducated. "glorius form of government"? hellifiknow. If I get only one bullet I'd reverse the circa 1886 court decision that granted corporations "personhood" and the rights of an individual under the constitution.
      • And it's posts like these which show how little is understood.

        Thing is, most of the hijackers were Saudi Arabians. Why? Because they're pissed that the US still has a huge force there, ever since the gulf war. Their reasons are more along the lines of "the US is an invading force which has setlled here"...and you know what? By many definitions, they're right. The US barged in and never left. That's one of the reasons behind OBL's crusade, and one of the reasons he gets so many Saudi's involved.

        Religious fundamentalism also gets in there, but that's more of a sugar coating than anything else.

        Oh, and I consider Bush to be funamentally evil, and someone who is too unstable to posses nuclear and biological weapons, too. GWB and OBL...they're just two sides of the same stupidly evil coin.
    • Pure frustration wouldn't do it. I've been frustrated to the end of my wits and back again. We've all been.

      The thing is, a segment of the Arabic Muslim population in the Middle East has been indoctrinated into believing that the cause of their frustrations is not their leaders (who are more often than not monarchs, mullahs, and dictators), but Israel (a modern nation with an elected government) and the United States (which is halfway around the world, and spends more of its GNP on charity and aid than almost any other nation around). And they've been taught two other things: One, that the afterlife has no frustrations, and two, that the more 'infidels' you kill on your way to the afterlife, the nicer it is.

      I know that's not an accurate representation of Islam as a whole, but I believe it is an accurate representation of that segment of the Islamic population that breeds suicide bombers and worse.

      We know why they're out to kill and terrorize. They've told us, many times. They tell us every time Hamas or Islamic Jihad takes credit for another slaughtering of civilians in Israel.

      Or haven't you been listening?

      In this case, the root of their frustration is a condition of life imposed upon them by their own 'leaders', and those very same 'leaders' avoid ousting by turning around and telling their people that it's our fault. And you're right, it is a problem that's going to go on until that root is addressed.

      So, how do you suggest 'addressing' the oppression of a people that have been taught to hate us by their oppressors?
    • So, you think a country of 250M+ should bend to the will of a few dozen terrorist groups? Ok.

      Do you like that fancy computer you're using right now? Because by your logic we should get rid of them all. According to these groups, we only need to know what they tell us to know.

      Know any girls? (Probably not, this is /.) Well, according to these guys they should be barred from an education and forced to make babies and service their man. But hey, women don't need rights do they?

      You think they attack because we use too much Oil? Get a fucking clue. They hate us because their god tells them to. This has NOTHING to do with Oil. Osama didn't read the newspaper one day and say "Damn, I don't like how many SUVs they have."
    • exactlly! you can't hit the nail on the head any more than this!

    • But what if the reason the terrorists are frustrated is because (for example) Israel exists and is recognized by the majority of the world's governments?

      How can anyone correct something like that without frustrating another group of people?

      Bombing a city and killing 3000 people is Evil. No question about it. To claim that there's any frustration or other extenuating circumstance that mitigates the Evilness of the act is to reject common sense for the sake of PC-ness.
    • Bin Laden is much more like a nihilistic insane demagogue than like a reasonable man driven to unreasonable acts by frustration. Kind of like Jim Jones. Both men might leverage the frustration of their followers to accomplish extreme acts of destruction, but in both cases the acts go far beyond simple "frustration".

      I don't doubt that people have many good reasons to be frustrated with the U.S. I know I have good reasons. I also don't doubt that terrorists in general, and Bin Laden in particular, are much more "evil people" than they are "reasonably frustrated people".

      Saying "I was frustrated" isn't a valid excuse for killing my wife, even if she really is an annoying bitch. I don't see why it should be a valid excuse for killing anybody else.

      Sure, terrorism is due in part to frustration with inhumane foreign policies, but you can be as nice as you want and there'll still be people that don't like you. And there'll still be madmen to turn their dislike into murderous rage--not because they want to make the world a better place, but because they want to blow it up.

      I'm all for having a kinder, gentler U.S. But I don't harbor any illusions that such a thing will eliminate terrorism. The only thing that will do that is a perfect utopia or a perfect tyranny. If your solution to eliminating terrorism is for the U.S. to become a perfect utopia, then I have a couple buildings in New York that you could buy real cheap.

    • Fight terrorism by addressing the reason *why* these people are driven a level of frustration that would cause them to commit such acts.

      The why is well known. The fundies want to protect their culture from such perverse ideas as freedom of and from religion and equal rights regardless of sex. There is a better solution to the problem than war though.

      All we have to do is follow the examples from the '60's civil rights marches and organize a million non-believer peace march to Mecca. Just think of the possibilities here! We could ask the National Organization of Women to supply the drivers, and have the Gay-Lesbian lobby to hand out flyers with messages of love to all the locals.

      Once in Mecca, Hindus, Jews, Christains, and Muslims alike could all hold hands and sing Kumbiya while circling the Ka'Baa. It would be beautiful man!

      Now where did I put my old tie-dyed peace shirt anyway?
    • Fight terrorism by addressing the reason *why* these people are driven a level of frustration that would cause them to commit such acts. ... These people aren't driven by pure evil but rather extreme frustration.

      Really? So your saying that these people are rational? You're saying they have a darn good reason for doing what they do? Why don't you enlighten us as to what causes rational people to blow up children? What do you think is frustrating them?

    • in certifiable mysogenes and mysanthropes like Osama Omar and company.

      We're not just talking about sending twenty or so ashishim to their deaths (causing thousands of other deaths was just a bonus for O., O. & Co.) company,) we're talking about the whole sale slaughter, the veritable decimation of the people of Afghanistan for, if you can pardon the expressions, not being more Catholic than the pope.

      Its not about frustration.

      Its not even about Saladim getting his arse whupped in the eight century.

      The Arabs don't remember about that a whole lot more than we do. "Ivanhoe" and all that Sunday morning cartoon crap.

      It about everybody having to kiss the Caliph's butt and eating the Caliph's crap. And the Caliph don't care if you die of disease and malnutrition.

      It can't go on forever because, as the health care and nutrition crises in Afghanistan showed, if they win, they'll be reduced to the same situation that Pol Pot was in Cambodia. A band of illiterate degenerates living in the jungle and watching their ammunition become irreplacable.
    • Why is this so befuddling? Can you not accept the fact that there are simply evil men in this world? Are you so naive that you believe humans are inherently good, honest, trustworthly beings??

      If that's what you believe then I am a Nigerian business man. I need you help in wiring millions of dollars to a US bank account. You will receive 30% for your efforts.

      There are radical Muslim leaders who have such power and influence over their people, that their people will believe anything they say and do anything that is asked of them - Including using an airplane as a weapon.

      If you recall WWII, Hitler was the leader of the Nazi's. Were all the Nazi members inherently evil people? Or were they just weak minded people who were overcome by Hitler's powerful speaking style and persuasive language? Power (good or bad) is a very attractive thing, especially to those who have none.

      It is indeed the Al Qaeda top leaders (Including the elusive Osama) who must be eliminated if the bulk of organized terror is to cease. It's simple cause and effect - Osama is a multi-millionaire who is simply an evil human being. He is using his monetary power to influence people to fight for him. Money = power = influence. It's that simple. Remove the evil influence, and you remove the effect.
    • "This befuddles me. These people aren't driven by pure evil but rather extreme frustration."

      Out of curiousity, what fustrated Hitler so much? Or Stalin? Amin?
  • robust (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:01PM (#4947456) Homepage Journal
    In their view, adversaries such as bin Laden's al Qaeda group are really networks -- highly dispersed units that have the same loose but robust structure as the nodes of a computer network.

    Al Qaeda is as tough as a network node huh? Forget evercrack, study the slashdot community, you'll destroy Ben Laden as soon as you link his node here!

    The slashdot effect, fighting terrorism one geek at a time!
  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ ( 11968 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:03PM (#4947475) Homepage

    ..."that members of Al Quaeda will now be focussed on preparing for their next major mission. They will do this by repeatedly and frequently engaging in petty crimes such as shoplifting and kicking puppies. This activity is apparently known by the codename "Operation: 'Leveling Up'...."

    • Got this earlier today:

      Osama's Belt of Terror:
      AC:5
      STR+3 DEX+3 AGI+3
      Weight 0.1

      Granted, it's vendor trash, but look that weight! Definately a monk item.
      • Bwahaha, total garbage. I only started playing evercrack 3 weeks ago, and I already have:

        747's of Mindless Vengeance
        +250 Building damage
        -75/-75 Landing/Takeoff skill
        -10 Whitehouse detection

        Willing to trade for "Chemical Fertilizer of Militia Madness"...
    • They will do this by repeatedly and frequently engaging in petty crimes such as shoplifting and kicking puppies. This activity is apparently known by the codename "Operation: 'Leveling Up'...."

      Ironically there does seem to be something like this. I remember some early articles on al Queada's operations that mentioned that each cell had to do at least some of its own funding - many cells apparently resort to petty crimes to fund their terrorist missions (though I think it was the support cells that do this so the operations cells don't comprimise their mission by engaging in petty crime).
  • by corebreech ( 469871 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:03PM (#4947476) Journal
    I'm investigating the possibility of fighting terrorism by downloading porn.

    So send me some of the fat DARPA cash QUICK!
  • Another excuse for government personnel to play with the internet and games and get payed for it!
  • Particularly in the areas of:
    "How can we infiltrate such a community without anyone noticing"
    "How high level (important members) are treated. Naturally we need first hand information on this from the side of the high levels."
    "Trust related to time spent, particularly looking at high commitment people (fanatics). Extensive experiments."

    Sheesh. I'm glad I know they do some *real* work too, otherwise I'd be really concerned...

    Kjella
  • Studies of most "successful" terrorist networks of the last century show that they are emphatically not tight networks. They operate in small cells with the bare minimum of inter-cell communication, and as much cut out as possible between the different levels of the hierarchy. The primary reason for this is the principal that if one cell is compromised the damage to the organisation can be limited in scope.

    It sounds to me as though the people funding these studies, and those conducting them are clutching at straws...
    • But an independant cell may be.probably will be, tight. So they wqant to find a cell, then monitor it for one of the infrequanty communications to the group/person above them, hopefull putting together a logical path form cell to leader.
      Basic infiltration, really.
  • Makes sense to me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Exmet Paff Daxx ( 535601 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:04PM (#4947497) Homepage Journal
    The parallels are quite obvious, actually. I remember playing Ultima Online... small bands of individuals organized into killing groups using stealthy means to communicate (like ICQ/AOL/etc) in order to plunder "normal people" and steal their wealth. Player killers and terrorists tend to think in the same ways, finding any possible hole in the system and plugging it with death.
    In Ultima, they've done it all... flooding the towns with sheep in order to disrupt commerce, stealing on town boundaries and calling the guards on innocent people, attacking unattended macro users (federal workers) who are practicing spells on ships... it's nearly a direct parallel.

    I think the biggest insight is that terrorists and computer gamers share the same motivating mentality: I can accomplish my goals by wreaking as much destruction and pain as possible.
    • I'm worried they might learn from it. Good post. I wish I could mod you up.

      Hey - I've been here forever and I've NEVER had a chance to mod people! What's up with that?

    • I think the biggest insight is that terrorists and computer gamers share the same motivating mentality: I can accomplish my goals by wreaking as much destruction and pain as possible.

      More accurately; I can most easily accomplish my goals if I carry about with a disregard for the amount of destruction and pain I will cause others.

      Any higher-level military goal can be carried out in such a way as to minimize casualties during the individual actions leading to its realization. This does make it more expensive and more time consuming. At some point it becomes either too expensive or too slow. Terrorists feel that any action they might take is warranted, so they can get a lot done with very few people and extremely limited resources. I hate to fuel the anti-freedom types but the enormous proliferation of rapid, simple, relatively untraceable and well-encrypted communications make this sort of thing easier every year...

    • You're just wrong.

      Your depiction of UO as a state under siege is faulty at best; the PvP and Non-PvP sides (Felucia and Trammel) to each shard (UO server) show this. Before the addition of those sides, you could easily avoid PKers and PvP Combat entirely by either not venturing into dangerous areas or avoiding the game entirely. It was possible not to killed, plundered, etc. The biggest proof is that people continue to play, despite your portrayal of "Terrorists Online". I'm sorry you had bad experiences, but it simply wasn't like that for everyone.

      You gloss over the subject of PvP Combat and Player Killing, lumping them together and naming them terrorists. This is blatantly ignorant of the concepts behind them. There's nothing wrong with people competing against each other - and PvP Combat is just that, people competing with each other. The biggest differences in the PvP crowds is where you consent to engage in PvP Combat. IE, should it be by logging into the server (Quake/FPS-style; joining the game means you understand what's going to happen) or by doing something special in game to consent (/duel, zoning into certain areas, declaring yourself +PvP, whatever).

      Note that terrorists give no such opportunity to their victims. There is no option not to involve yourself; by virtue of what you are, or where you are, or something else usually uncontrollable, you have become a target.

      You also state that Player Killers are like Terrorists in that they seek to exploit "The System". Well, any system is made of rules. He's another one for you: Any Rule Will Be Exploited. Doesn't matter what it is, who made it, or the purpose of it. This is not unique to Player Killers or Terrorists; this is a trait shared by Lawyers, Politicians, Government Officials of all kinds, and yes, YOU, the general populace. We seek to find holes in the system, ways to gain money or power or anything else we desire. Even if it's speeding 1-2 mph to shave a few seconds off your trip - you've done the same exact thing. It might be on a much, much lower level - we're not talking about letting murderers off on a technicality after all - but you still have broken rules for gain.

      I, for one, think the sheep thing to be incredibly smart. Who has thought of using sheep offensively? And, at least in UO, you can kill sheep without fear of being attacked by guards. It's not like they flooded Trinsic with the Undead (oh, wait, EA did that). Also, you can't call the guards on innocent people - the guards won't attack unless you attempt to steal or kill another player.

      Oh, and unattended Macro-ing? Last I checked, EA forbid it. It was something that explicitly would get you banned from the game (ie, if you were macro-ing and didn't respond within 5-10 minutes). Your "federal worker" analogy is foolish; these people are exploiting the system, same as your 'player-killing/terrorists'.

      Finally, stating that computer gamers and people who employ terror as a weapon/engages in acts or an act of terrorism ("terrorist") "share the same motivating mentality" is stupid beyond reason. I'm a computer gamer - I *CERTAINLY* don't *play games* to wreak destruction and pain. I *PLAY* to have fun - I hurt no one, I destroy no property.

      Additionally, it is ludicrous that you would limit such behavior to computer gamers. I would argue that SPORTS are FAR more violent and destructive than computer or video games. No one gets physically injured twiddling bits in RAM, no one has broken their knee playing Madden 2k3, there have been no riots over the US Starcraft Team losing to Korea.

      On the other hand, Football and Rugby injure people all the time. Simply watch a 'highlights' tape and tell me a 250lbs guy slamming into you doesn't hurt. Or watch the 'classic' Football tape where that poor quarterback has his leg broken in two places. Or consider ALL the RIOTS that have broken out because some college team didn't win - or in some case, WON! - or the 'legendary' soccer riots across the globe.

      I'm too long winded: it can be summed up with this: Terrorists are killers. They seek to influence people by fear. Computer Gamers seek an activity providing entertainment or amusement; a pastime. They seek fun.

      -LW

      -----
  • That's where I see this leading to. The brain is a great computer node, so just close off all the useless emotions and thinking stuff, link to a central control center that runs AI and "Master" controllers (i.e. ubergeeks), use real-time GPS/GIS, satellite, and video from drones to keep track of what's transpiring and link them together, all the while having aerial and space-based drones firing lasers, microwaves, and other excellent weaponry. If nothing else it'd be a very cool game.

    "In America, it's more like everyone is the Lone Ranger" Yippee Ki Yea, Motherfucker.

  • Sony headquarters bombed by the US airforce for allowing a terrorist cell called "Everquest" to communicate in an obscure 3D rendered enviroment hidden behind the facade of a game. Several thousand US gamers ranging from 8 to 80 years old have been arrested and detained by the FBI for alleged connections with this terrorist cell. One was quoted, saying "No! NOO!! IT IS ABOUT TO RESPAWN!!!" which has been explained by FBI officials to indicate a religious tone to this dark cell, possibly trying to summon Satan. US forces are underway to detain terrorists in other countries who will either bend over and cooperate or be bombed to oblivion for supporting said terrorists.

    Film at 11.

  • by geek ( 5680 )
    So that's where Osama's been hiding. Never took him for an Evercrack player.
  • He never actually explains what Everquest has to do with Bin Ladin. Instead, he chooses to bandy about "words" in "quotation marks" that he obviously doesn't "understand", most likely because they're "completely meaningless". For example,

    [MMPORGs] may provide insights into what's known as "network-centric warfare."

    Defense intellectuals... believe that the Pentagon must realign itself for "network-centric" operations.

    The intellectual groundwork for this "netwar" analysis was laid out in a paper published on the Internet...

    Presumably "netwar" is a clever shortening of "network-centric warfar". Beyond that, I'm at a total loss how someone could call themself a journalist without bothering to understand the word that describes the key thesis of their article, let alone explain it to their readers. All I can conclude from this is that somebody at a think tank is an EQ fiend, and is trying to find some way to justify his usage logs.

    And by the way, what exactly does he mean by saying that Everquest games can last for months?

  • In other news, the CIA has annoucned that they have contracted with myg0t [myg0t.com] to perform "special operations" in the mideast theater, "or was it on mideast servers? I can't remember," according to CIA director George Tenet.

    "We've spent so much time sitting around the lab at night, waiting for the next round to start after getting autoheadshotted by aimbots, that we thought, 'hey, if only there was some way to harness their power for national security?'"

    "Their first assignment will be in the Sudan. They'll be spamming, trolling and b0ting major targets there, in preparation for a major action in the Gulf theater later in the spring."

    "We enjoy ruining your game and fun," said a myg0t representative, identifying himself as [myg0t]g0d. "We expect to join their team, and then block their doorways, teamwound, throw flashbangs at the start of the round, and spawn camp. This should quickly reduce them to whining like little girls for an admin to come and save them."

    "If they ban us, we'll just change wonids and come right back. God bless America."
  • But the challenging idea is that the online gaming world could provide models for much more advanced ways of responding to threats. It could create real-time networks for a kind of command and control that has never been attempted. The peer-to-peer connections of the online world also could break down some of the time-wasting and bureaucratic hierarchies that continue to obstruct military planning and operations.

    Sounds pretty heretical. Not incorrect, mind you, just completely blasphemous: imagine a military that relied on communications that didn't take 10 minutes to walk the nodes to the people who needed the info. Like "the bad guys are HERE, NOW" and getting that to the fire support/air support guys instantly.

    Pretty revolutionary, which is why it will probably be restricted to intelligence gathering. The idea of some two-striper grunt on the ground talking directly to the pilot who's dropping HE is probably a bit TOO revolutionary.
  • The behavior of humans in large organizations does not depend as much on formal structure of organization's environment compared to the set of goals and costs to each participant. Terrorists and gamers in those cases have completely different sets of goals -- gamers have to support their status in the system by performing various acts that even though risky, can not prevent them from starting again, or switching to another system. Terrorists have long-term goals and are likely to take huge risks to their lives, usually very rarely. The rest of terrorists' life is merely a work of a cog in a system -- gaining status is unimportant and often undesirable because it exposes him to unproductive risk as opposed to productive one that allows to achieve his goals.

    This is like comparing real-life war in an urban setting to Quake or UT.
  • I am the leader of one of the largest and most successful guilds on Dark Age of Camelot. (Aeonian Prophecy [camelotherald.com])

    I had no idea we mirrored terrorist organizations.

    I mean sure, we kill people. A lot of people. But its all for fun. We also defend our homeland, for fun.

    We go on suicide missions ... well heck, we do commit suicide a lot (travel is faster that way) and er... use scouts to find out enemy locations ... er...

    Alright, so on the surface it sounds that way but hey, I'll be the first to stand up and come to my countries aid if they want me to play a MMORPG to figure out how to stop terrorism than by golly I will! :)

    Ok, so thats silly, so is saying that guilds in MMORPGs are anything like terrorist nets. But then, I've never been a terrorist. Just a guild leader.

  • by waytoomuchcoffee ( 263275 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:34PM (#4947677)
    This subject was brought up by Dave Rickey (of Dark Age of Camelot) in the Mud-dev mailing list [kanga.nu] a few days ago. Raph Koster (of Star Wars Galaxies) was invited to attend, but didn't. His take was that "the emphasis that the DoD wanted appeared to be on how to re-invent the DoD based on a more networked model." I expect developers that did go can't talk about it.
  • ah (Score:3, Funny)

    by Maskirovka ( 255712 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:41PM (#4947724)
    So this means I can get compensated for some of the time I volunteer looking for stenographic messages in internet porn?
  • by Cyno ( 85911 )
    At first I thought that read caching Osama. I know they're supposed to be a terrorist _network_, but...
  • I think EQ players scare me more than Al Qaeda.
  • Just add "For homeland security purposes"(tm) to the end of anything and soon you too will be raking in the Benjermins!

    Heh, i've been crapping on that John Ashcroft "Learn how to be a homeland security officer(rent a pig)" alot lately. Here's my new version.
    [John Ashcroft comes in stage left]
    "Spy on gamers" Would never get you any type of funding from the goverment.
    [wipe to pick of joystick with a circle slash around it]
    Simply add our "For homeland security purposes"(tm)to the end of your goverment proposal and !VOILA! Instant money.

    We have a complete idiot dumb shit for a president, with me, his Pom Pom holding cheerleader leading the cause. We need many patriotic americans to help us sucker all the money clinton made during his presidency into the hands of complete idiots.
    [Wipe to pic of gas station attendants]

    It's like a dot com all over again but this time add "For homeland security purposes"(tm) instead of .com to the end of your company name, and we will provide you with the funding you need.
    [Show 100dollar bills snowing down]

    Simply call 1-800-ima-twit to get started! Since we don't have a clue how technology was making the world money, we're going to use the personal touch of hired goons to take over the world and hoard all the wealth to ourselves.

    [Star spangled banner plays, american flag blows in the wind] /end skit

    Basically what we are seeing right now in our economy is investors are scrared of investing in the tech sector because so many people got screwed in the 90s. Well, it wasn't just screwing, after all, we have a lot of good that came out of it (slash for one)
    Yet the general job of the goverment is to get money out of it's citizens. If the population is scared to invest, what's the best way to get them to do it?
    Fud the previous administrations economy to death(bill clinton=devil), A big scare to the populace (9/11), Rally the patriotism (Homeland Security) and get people to invest (HLS schools, programs, spy sattelites, ect)

    Despite 9/11, I think the country is heading into the wrong direction with the paranoia. Unfortunately that is completely out of my control and the best I can do is bitch on slashdot till voting day arrives. I think GWB and his administration are trying to milk 9/11 for every investing cent they can grab and hire the security force to enforce their vision of a "Secure America"
    Do we really need that? Couldn't we just build a sattelite with a big laser and a big camera, launch the thing then pull the trigger when Osama is in their sites? An orbiting sattelite would be well out of range of any ground based artillery. I feel like they're making excuse after excuse on why we don't have him yet, and sorry for my bit of paranoia here, but I think GWB is letting OBL stay on the lam. I don't think we will ever catch/kill OBL while we have GWB for a president.

    It's fucked times, I think Iraq is going to be our generations vietnam. GWB has been insisting on what a long drawn out war this is going to be. Be lookin for those draft cards in a year or two. Gotta do something with this excess no good lazy geek population. We'll make men outta of them yeah! Like prison rapist there has been a subset of blue collar workers that have had their eye on us for a while.

    I pray GWB gets a clue before he gets us into something we can't get out of.
  • Further proof that I need to be an editor for Slashdot:

    2002-12-06 18:16:25 Play EverQuest and help defeat Osama (articles,games) (rejected)

    Yep. That's right kiddos. I had a FULL 17 day lead on this story.

    Fsck. Maybe I should just start my own blog and submit my rejects to that.

    Anyone care to participate in a "stories rejected by slashdot editors" site that doesn't have duplicates and is grammatically correct?

  • There is no analogy between everquest and terrorist networks. The later work in a defined organisational structure known as cells. These cells have very specific ways of communicating which guarantee anonymity to the maximum amount of cells.

    Now how does this relate to how people form a group in EQ? Well, it just doesn't. EQ players don't need that form of anonymity. They don't have different cells working together towards the same goal. While I will admit everyone who plays EQ has the same goal of 'getting more xp'...that's not the same thing, is it? You don't need (or have) all these cells interconnected, talking to each other to 'overthrow a system'.

    What the pentagon will find is the mechanics of how a gamne is played...which will bear no reemblance whatsoever to how terrorist cells are organised.
  • because al-queda as a terror network is a virtual network, while the Rand people are treating it like a video game. i fail to see how a group who's main purpose seems to be to fuck our (in the US) shit up can be described in language remotely similar to everquest et al. i guess you could say that they act like a bunch of 12 year old PKers. maybe they are just pkers and the whole world is a game. *hits tilde* woah.
  • by Gleef ( 86 )
    I can just picture it, the people at the Highlands Group [highlandsgroup.net] sitting around, clients gone for the recession, playing video games to pass the time. Then one of them goes, "Hey, the Pentagon is spending billions to fight terrorism, let's try to get them to pay us to play these games!"

    And they did.

  • (1) Bunny-hopping
    (2) Camping
    (3) Hacking the client

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley

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