I can't make up my mind. Is this just the intelligence community seeking another area in which to spy on everyone, or have Pentagon analysts come up with the ultimate way to goof off on the job?
In a presentation late last week at the Director of National Intelligence Open Source Conference in Washington, Dr. Dwight Toavs, a professor at the Pentagon-funded National Defense University, gave a bit of a primer on virtual worlds to an audience largely ignorant about what happens in these online spaces. Then he launched into a scenario, to demonstrate how a meatspace plot might be hidden by in-game chatter.
In it, two World of Warcraft players discuss a raid on the "White Keep" inside the "Stonetalon Mountains." The major objective is to set off a "Dragon Fire spell" inside, and make off with "110 Gold and 234 Silver" in treasure. "No one will dance there for a hundred years after this spell is cast," one player, "war_monger," crows.
Except, in this case, the White Keep is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. "Dragon Fire" is an unconventional weapon. And "110 Gold and 234 Silver" tells the plotters how to align the game's map with one of Washington, D.C.
Naturally, if terrorists are using World of Warcraft as a means to hatch their plots, that bears watching by the government. I know dozens of qualified agents who would be happy to serve their country, in return for a free subscription, GS-9 salary and benefits, and hazard pay for enduring Barrens general chat.