For many people their dream job would be one that paid them to play video games. It used to be that play testing and playing in professional gaming leagues were the only careers that fulfilled such dreams. But now there’s another employer willing to pay employees to hammer at keyboards and mice in virtual worlds: the National Security Agency (NSA):
To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency’s impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.
That vision of spycraft sparked a concerted drive by the NSA and its UK sister agency GCHQ to infiltrate the massive communities playing online games, according to secret documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which boasts more than 48 million players. Real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life. There were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games’ tech-friendly users.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen. If you want to get paid to play video games just sign up with the NSA or the Government Communications Headquarters (GHCQ). Both of those agencies are willing to fork over hard stolen tax dollars to agents willing to subject themselves to the rigors of sitting in a chair and operating a keyboard and mouse (I know that also describes programming but playing video games for a living is probably more fun).
I wonder how long it will take the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to take up this strategy. Imagine agents running around Minecraft servers trying to recruit players to take TNT blocks and blow up bridges and buildings. After the deed is done the FBI can get a warrant to reveal the player’s Internet protocol (IP) address, contact the internet service provider (ISP) that controls that address to discover the user’s name and address, and arrest the user for virtual terrorism. It would give a much needed boost to the agency’s terrorist arrest numbers.