At least that's what analysts said on their expenses and when quizzed why they're in a 15-man raid in Azeroth. Is that Orc Shaman really little Tiffany, or an NSA role-playing spy?
Documents have been published by The Guardian and other publications showing the intelligence communities arguing MMOs are a 'hotbed' of communication.
"The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, stressed the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a "target-rich communications network" where intelligence targets could "hide in plain sight"," wrote .
"Games, the analyst wrote "are an opportunity!". According to the briefing notes, so many different US intelligence agents were conducting operations inside games that a "deconfliction" group was required to ensure they weren't spying on, or interfering with, each other." Interoffice conflicts were common between Horde and Alliance agents I'm sure.
"If properly exploited, games could produce vast amounts of intelligence, according to the NSA document. They could be used as a window for hacking attacks, to build pictures of people's social networks through "buddylists and interaction", to make approaches by undercover agents, and to obtain target identifiers (such as profile photos), geolocation, and collection of communications," continued the report.
"...the documents contain no indication that the surveillance ever foiled any terrorism plots, nor is there any clear evidence that terror groups were using the virtual communities to communicate as the intelligence agencies confidently predicted." Put this together with the rise in webcams or motion cameras like Kinect 2.0 and you get a scary picture.
Blizzard Entertainment has officially stated they are unaware of any such surveillance going on in Azeroth.
"We are unaware of any surveillance taking place," said a spokesman. "If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission." Microsoft and Second Life founder Philip Rosedale has declined to comment on these documents, as has the NSA. The GCHQ however said all their operations were 'lawful with strict oversight'.
has a lengthy report on the leaks which show that our oppressive overlords are perhaps not as brilliantly Machiavellian as previously thought, after all they've succumbed to World of Warcraft. Blizzard 1, NSA 0.
The NSA believed Second Life was destined to be an online bazaar of terrorism - they underestimated how boring it was.
Report: MMOs targeted by intelligence agencies
09 December 2013 | By Simon Priest