Hell in a Hand Basket
Jan 25, 2008 18:44:36

Hell in a hand basket - Groucho Marx was once on the Dick Cavett show discussing the musical Hair which contained a controversial nude scene. At one point the conversation turned to whether or not Groucho felt he wanted to see the show, as well what he thought of the price of a ticket. He looked turned to Dick Cavett and said "I went home, took off all my clothes, and looked at myself in the mirror for five minutes and decided it wasn't worth it."

Well my friends, it sometimes reaches the point where it is no longer "worth it." Such is the case when I log on to a gaming website where I am a moderator for their forums only to find it under a constant barrage of pornography. Despite the popularity of the song "The Internet is for Porn" that is decidedly NOT the use to which the majority of us wish to put it. If you, the person reading this, didn't want to use if for playing MMOs you wouldn't be here.

The topper for it all is that another site where I am on staff has been "hacked" twice in the last week, the last time deleting all the content. I won't tell you the name of the web sites. For that, after all, is why hackers, like the virtual terrorists they are, do it - for notoriety. That is, of course, when it is not done for profit.

Yet the invasion of our virtual worlds doesn't end there.

People have been hacking into MMOs since the days of Ultima Online using things like "speed hacks" (making an avatar run faster than the system would normally allow) and "Duping Hacks" (duplicating an item in a manner the system doesn't allow). The former is motivated by someone who feels the desperate need to be some sort of virtual king of the hill. The later, however is nothing more than the action of a thief. Yet many is the gamer who may think that using an exploit or hacking a developer's software to give themselves an advantage is victimless. Not long ago, on Common Sense Gamer, Darren made this statement:
"In a MMOG the person who uses RMT services is cheating by giving themselves an unfair advantage over those that are playing by the rules."- Darren of Common Sense Gamer

In reaction, on his own blog, Raph Kostner said this:
"Unfair advantage in what? You sound like there's some competition going on. But the RPG isn't actually ranking you in terms of a competition (except in the narrow cases of PvP, and honestly, this exact same reaction has been there in the PvE games - that quote could have come from Everquest; and ranking ladders). Raph Koster in You are all cheaters

Raph followed up this statement with another, shortly after it, in the same article:

I will qualify my next statement by stating that real money trading (RMT) and micro-transactions are decidedly NOT the same thing. In fact they are not even close. The simple fact of the matter is that when someone goes out and buys gold off some fly by night website they are costing people and they are doing so dearly - to the tune of $500,000 per year for SOE by a recent statement made by John Smedley, president and CEO of Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). - Raph Koster

"Many of them use stolen credit cards, obtained by unsuspecting users who give them credit card #'s to purchase in-game gold. I'm not saying all of the RMT shops out there use stolen credit cards, but a LOT of them do. Your credit card is absolutely not safe in their hands. In addition we recieve large scale (over $500k so far) fines for chargebacks that these scumbag farmers routinely do. They purchase a new account, use it for a month and then call the credit card company to say 'I never paid for this'." John Smedley

Yet the fact of the matter is even the person who cheats to get ahead in an MMO has an affect on the game. In an earlier article quoted "You are all cheaters", Raph Kostner had this to say.
"Cheating is, in the end, violating the spirit of the rules. But the spirits of games evolve, for better or worse, and not always in ways we like (I reference again the tale of Monopoly, and how it changed from an anti-landlord game into a game celebrating greed). It isn't the designers doing it, usually -rather, it's designers conceding ground under the weight of player pressure and market pressure." -Raph Koster in What is Cheating

In this case not only is Raph right, he is dead on point. How many times have we all listened to people slam SOE and Vanguard (when Brad McQuaid was at the helm) who haven't even played their games? How many times have we all seen games changed, and for the worse, to a suit small but very vocal minority of players?

So in the end, despite the fact that my grandmother didn't live to see the invention of virtual worlds, she was right about one thing - lately our collective virtual universes are going to hell in a hand basket. I can't log on to any game I play without a constant barrage from a player whose name runs something like "xdrhwyt" who wants to ruin the fun of my game by handing me gold (if I get it) and handing my credit card out to the general populous of the internet. In the vain hope that some of the people dead set on "pooping in the punchbowl", as grandmother also used to say, are reading this, I have a few words for them:

To the people who feel the need to use exploits and hacks to be better than the other players I say this:

This is a game. Being the highest ranking pvp'er in any given mmo and $1.53 will get you a cup of coffee at McDonalds. Should you even consider extending this attitude to the rest of your life, first consider this: No matter who you are, there will always be those who are greater or lesser than yourself, and the person who dies with the most toys doesn't win - they just die.

Sadly, some of the trite garbage Hollywood sometimes pumps out on film, glorifies hackers. To those who may have swallowed this line of bull that Hollywood hands out and take up hacking websites on their own I have this message:

Society doesn't see you as some sort of hero or even an anti-hero. We do not see you as Hugh Jackman's character, Stanley Jobson in the movie "Swordfish". No. We see you as a canker sore on the virtual butt of society.

And last, and certainly least, to those individuals who feel it is part of their life's work to push pornography on our forums - if you want to spank a monkey in public, go to the zoo.

- Julie

Submitted by Brent on Jan 25, 2008 18:44:36 CST (comments: 4)


'Right ON!' by Alces
Submitted on 2008-01-31 23:07:02 CST

I have to applaud this blog. The main reason I usually leave a MMO is due to the boneheads who see the it as something to beat and not to enjoy. Being of a certain age means that I played AD&D (and other paper and dice RPGs) when there was only one version and the big reason for being involved was the role playing. Many people tend to forget that MMO is short for MMORPG. (Or do they leave it off because they are not there to Role Play.)

When the ratio between those who are there to role play and those who are there to be some type of king of the hill grows narrow, it's time for me to move on. (Which means I have moved on so many times I have been game less for over a year now). What happened to the guilds in UO that gathered to share stories, original epic poems, and a game of checkers? What happened to the gamers in WoW that spoke to others for something more than directions to the nearest spawn area? What happen to those who wanted to design and play an original character in City of Heros/Villians? What happened to chivalry? What happened to those in all the fantasy MMOs that would help a fellow role player out if they needed a few gold coins, a master item made, or real advice and not just directions? Maybe like myself, they have tired of what has become the status quo and are waiting for the New MMO's that should come out this year and play until the hackers, cheats, and tanks take it over.



'CAPCHA' by Eli
Submitted on 2008-02-13 13:04:01 CST
Turn that on, I think all the current software supports it. And also moderate the new user admissions so you have to actually approve them yourself, just for the next couple of months. I wonder if your ISP can help you? My host where I keep all my forums and blogs etc is very helpful with this kind of thing. Obviously it is good for them to help me because otherwise I'll be heading for a new host, and we all know it will be the same there eh?

'Eli' by Brent
Submitted on 2008-02-13 16:45:43 CST
Eli, are you talking to me? (No I'm not trying to be Deniro)
In event that you are talking to me...

VirginWorlds isn't a software package, its all custom code and for that reason I've seen very little reason to implement CAPTCHAs. Those are usually used to protect against automated, scripted spam postings and VirginWorlds isn't susceptible to those (yet) because is doesn't use a standard software package that spammers have scripted against.

I also haven't seen much reason to moderate or approve comments. I think I've 86'd a total of 3 comments on the past 2 and a half years, not including the 6 or 7 gold farmer posts that have been manually posted and immediately removed. That's not too many. Plus, I don't have time to moderate comments. Everyone's conversation would queue up and lose steam.

'Onoes' by Eli
Submitted on 2008-02-13 17:47:04 CST
No I mean for Julie's community sites, which she says two of were hacked recently. This isn't a deep observation I know, but there are a lot of people ignorning basic security at these community sites and they get hacked at alot. Yours seems fine to me too. :) I'd rather not see Captcha here either, or anywhere for that matter.

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