12.23.2005

 

World of Warcraft bans robots

This fascinates me. We have this incredibly successful game called World of Warcraft, inhabited by 5 million people:

Azeroth: Population 5 million and counting

The state of North Carolina, where I live, has about that many people living in it. It is a lot of people.

The World of Warcraft has banned robots, as you can see in this article:

Blizzard Bans 18,000 World Of Warcraft Accounts: The "third-party programs to farm gold and items" are robots.

The even more interesting part is that World of Warcraft does allow what amounts very nearly to slaves, in China, doing exactly what these programs do. See this post for details. The people in china who are doing the farming make 75 cents an hour working 12 hours a day.

Why do they ban the robots? Because they "can severely impact the economy of a realm and the overall game enjoyment for all players."

Why do they allow the slaves? I do not know. Thoughts?

Comments:
What are these slaves you talk about?

The idea of a game is to provide entertainment. People play games voluntarily, as opposed to reallife slaves who need to feed themselves and are forced to do heavy labor.

When gamers allow robots to harvest gold and items for them, they gain an unfair advantage over those who don't.

I suppose you could suggest that everybody starts using robots.

But then you'd end up with a virtual world that's inhabited by mindless robots collecting gold and harvest.

What goal would that serve?

It's a game. It's supposed to be played fair by people who derive meaningful pleasure from it.
 
Workers of the World of WarCraft unite has a bit more to say about the NYT article that Marshall linked.


Secrets of Massively Multiplayer Farming puts the bottom line of "gold farming" in perspective:


Making it Pay Off

You now have a significant investment in computers, connectivity, and personnel. Next you need to put your operation in the black and keep it there.

Characters Must Be Played 24/7

The most efficient use of your investment requires each of your characters be in play at all times.

Partners and 12 Hour Shifts

Being a farming-shop operator in a third world country, you can best accomplish that by having every character played by its pair of partners, each of whom takes a 12-hour shift.


I agree with Marshall's point -- these players have roles that are more or less equivalent to robots, so if you're going to ban one you should logically ban the other as well.

Of course, then they'd actually be putting someone out of a "job" too. It's a complex issue... welcome to the Virtual Robotic Nation, I guess.
 
robot |ˈrōˌbät; ˈrōbət| noun
a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, esp. one programmable by a computer. • (esp. in science fiction) a machine resembling a human being and able to replicate certain human movements and functions automatically. • used to refer to a person who behaves in a mechanical or unemotional manner : terminally bored tour guides chattering like robots.

ORIGIN from Czech, from robota ‘forced labor.’ The term was coined in K. Čapek's play R.U.R. ‘Rossum's Universal Robots’ (1920).


...Translation: These agents are not "robots" because they are not mechanically engineered. They are programs, which could be considered "agents" or scripts, but they certainly are NOT robots.
 
It's still a computer program impacting an economy, the essence of Robotic Nation.
 
Well, that didn't take long at all for life to start imitating art. It was just over a year ago that science fiction author Cory Doctorow predicted gaming-wage-slavery in his story "Anda's Game," readable online at Salon: http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2004/11/15/andas_game/index_np.html
 
"...Translation: These agents are not "robots" because they are not mechanically engineered. They are programs, which could be considered "agents" or scripts, but they certainly are NOT robots."

You're taking definitions too seriously.

What is a robot without a software program?

A tin can, that's what.
 
Yes, but what is software without hardware?... a series of instructions.
 
Here's one from the Second Life Herald. It has a picture of what it looks like, in a Chinese gold farming operation.

Here's Anda's Game, a story by Cory Doctorow about a girl in a game, who gets paid dollars to carry out bizarre missions to take out strange villages surrounded by mercenaries...
 
I think they probably would ban the virtual slavery if they knew who the slaves were. Its probably much easier to identify script-bots than actual players who are being used as slave labor.
 
Hmmm, I've heard poker bots can evade detection by connecting two machines(one with the bot the other with the poker s/w).

Something similar should be possible in these games. Question is what if a player doesn't chat and behaves pretty much like a bot? Is that style of play simply forbidden?

Hopefully they've a very good legal defence, cause I'm sure end user agreements won't hold much force before a jury, especially if a lawyer happens to have his small kid do so, and play the victim.

"We just banned him, and we wouldn't give him back his account, even though he was very attached. We just thought he was a machine.", cut to kid crying in the middle of the hearing.
 
In the EULA for world of warcraft it states that it is against the game rules to share your account details with anybody.

Now if i'm not wrong theses "slaves" cannot afford it for them selves and have therefore had an account registered by somebody else.

This means they are in actual fact breaking the rules meaning that blizzard dont condone it and as has been stated, anybody found to be sharing account details will have their accounts suspended.

I agree that is very very harsh that people in china are forced to do this and something should be done. But i've played the game with a few chinese people on EU servers, How do you tell the difference?

Its alot easier to ban bots than it is players because mouse movements can be recorded etc, however the players mouse movements will always be random.

Its a bad world but as i said how do you stop it? Its not blizzards responsability to remove comunisum from china, as has been proven in other games for instance eve-online. Seperate rules must apply for these countries, these rules have been set by their governments. So without a nuclear war or a complete reshake of the chinese government it wont happen.
 
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