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Democracy Inaction: Blizzard vs Bots

The people vs Larry Quel'thalas

What people surely love the most about RPS is not our lengthy cleverthinks, wibbling retrospectives, bewildering references to bear-based religions, or refreshingly honest buy/don’t buy game verdicts, but rather the way we sometimes read a news story, then write about that news story in our own words. It’s journalism at its most pioneering. So, to make you respect us all the more, let’s have an experiment. Yes, voting! Ooh, it’s like the internet circa 1999.

Still, it’s a spot of moral deliberation that could only apply to videogames.

Blizzard have been trying for some time to take the folks behind an application called Glider to court. Why? Because Glider is a botting program – it automates a certain amount of World of Warcraft gubbins to enable climbing up the level ladder without having to actually play the thing (“It grinds, it loots, it skins, it heals, it even farms soul shards”). Glider charges $20 for the privilege, and Blizzard claim it EULA-bothers by copying portions of WoW into RAM in order to hide from the game’s anti-cheat software. Speculation, meanwhile, has it that this has something to do with cracking down on gold farmers.

Michael Donnelly, the dude behind Glider, is fighting back, and now both parties have filed motions that, if either proves successful, would see one of ’em granted victory, but without that messy court business. In Blizzard’s case, victory involves the closure of Glider. In Donnelly’s case, victory involves continuing to sell the app, which Blizzard claim has earned him $2.8m so far. Man! Clearly I’m wasting my time installing WordPress poll plugins. I need to write me a bot program.

Anyway:

The case for the defence:

“Getting a bunch of characters to 70 is a pain. Getting money to equip them is a pain. Doing big instances, battlegrounds, raids, and generally socializing in the game is fun. We use the Glider to skip the painful parts and have more fun. Someone suggested we sell it, so…”

The case for the prosecution:

“MDY has willfully persisted in this endeavor despite knowing that the overwhelming majority of WoW players despise the presence of Glider bots in WoW, and that Blizzard is being forced to divert significant human and financial resources from game development and support to efforts to stop Glider… Bots spend far more time in-game than an ordinary player would and consume resources the entire time. ”

You may note I’m resisting my usual tendency towards ill-advised ranting here, and there’s a reason for that. The judgement, in this instance, is yours. I’ve tried to distill the arguments down into the key effects on players (as opposed to the claimed interests of the two companies involved). You’ll probably complain they’re somehow unfair, because that’s what you People On The Internet do, but honestly, it’s just intended to encourage your own conclusions.

So, there should be some buttons below. You should probably click one.

{democracy:2}

Maybe we’ll all learn something.

(And yes, I stole the title gag from The Daily Show. Thanks, Daily Show. Thaily Show).

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Who am I?

Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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