Some very interesting information from a Wired article – the US intelligence community now plans to develop new software to help detect “violent extremists” infiltrating World of Warcraft and other massive multiplayer games.
According to the report, the software aims to profile online gamers and eventually automatically detect suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world.
The cultural and behavioral norms of virtual worlds and gaming are generally unstudied. Therefore, Reynard will seek to identify the emerging social, behavioral and cultural norms in virtual worlds and gaming environments. The project would then apply the lessons learned to determine the feasibility of automatically detecting suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world.
If it shows early promise, this small seedling effort may increase its scope to a full project.
Reynard will conduct unclassified research in a public virtual world environment. The research will use publicly available data and will begin with observational studies to establish baseline normative behaviors.
Perhaps from now on players should be a bit more cautious when they enter the World of Warcraft?