Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thank you for playing

As the usual Monday night DL crowd departed for home, I stuck around so Dennis could show me one last game: World of Warcraft Miniatures. Now, apparently this is not released yet, but they have a print-and-play version on the web to whet your appetite. So Dennis explained the rules to me (they are simple but still have some variety to them that makes each character different) and we played. It was enjoyable, if brief. As we finished, we talked briefly about the online game.

Now I generally have really liked WOW. I liked the art direction, the music, the variety of different characters and weapons and so forth. Eventually I got tired of it and suspended my account. Now I was never a powergamer. I never got a character to the top level (60 at the time) and I don't think I ever owned a purple item, but I never really cared. I just ran around and did whatever just to have a good time. One of the big reasons I quit, though, was because I didn't know anyone else who played, so after a while it felt like this big empty vacuum. I always figured that if only I had other real life friends who played, I might have enjoyed it more.

Well, Dennis mentioned that he started playing again a few weeks ago. Perfect! Maybe now that I knew someone in the game, I might enjoy it more. I figured I'd give it a spin again, especially since I owned Burning Crusade but never played it. If I tried it and got bored again, no big deal--$15 bucks for a month to find out.

On the way home, I started wondering, Do I need another game? I've got so many games on the XBox and board games that I never play. How am I going to squeeze this in? Will I be even less likely to play other games I have? What if it still ends up feeling like a boring grind? Do I really want to invest any time in this? I kept mentally flip-flopping back and forth, feeling like I wanted it to be fun but fearful that despite having a RL friend to play with it would still feel like a grind and not be much fun after all. Do I install? Should I avoid the temptation? Am I going to ever see the sun again?

When I got home, I checked my email.

PROBLEM. SOLVED.

***Notice of Account Closure***This is a notification
regarding the World of Warcraft account ********. Access to this account has
been permanently disabled for exploitation of the World of Warcraft economy or
for being associated to accounts which have been closed for intended
exploitation. While we try to be as lenient as possible in our assessments of
the results of exploitation investigations, exploitative endeavors on your
accounts have ultimately lead to their closure. The recurring subscription on
the account has been disabled to prevent further charges.As a result, this
account will no longer be able to access any aspect of World of Warcraft. This
action has been taken in accordance with the Terms of Use (
http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/legal/termsofuse.html) and our game policies (http://www.blizzard.com/support/wowgm/?id=agm01712p). According to the World of Warcraft Terms of Use, to which all players
agree when installing World of Warcraft, Section 5, Paragraph C [Rules Related
to Game Play] states that you may not do anything that Blizzard Entertainment
considers contrary to the "essence" of World of Warcraft.




How funny, I thought. This junk mail about my WOW account slipped through my filter not 30 minutes after I was thinking about reactivating it.

Then I started checking some of the links. Hmmm...they go to the real Blizzard website. That's strange. Plus, how would junk emailers have my WOW account name? They wouldn't.

Uh oh.

So I went to the WOW website and clicked Account Management.

Access to this World of Warcraft account has been disabled by
Blizzard Entertainment. For more information, including the amount of time it
will be in place, please check the email address registered on the account. All
information and any updates on the account will have been sent there by the
Account Administration team.


Yep. They really banned me. Wow, indeed.

So now I'm a cyberspace felon, apparently.

Like I said, I don't have a character that made it to level 60. I don't own any purple items. I didn't sell much beyond a few green items in the Auction House when I played and I don't think I've owned more than about 100 gold, so I'm not your prototypical gold farmer. I didn't download any third-party software that would illegally level my character. The last time I played was in December 2007-January 2008, when I played probably 20 hours total over two months. Not exactly powergamer numbers. I haven't had an active account in about 7-8 months.

The only thing I can think of is that I helped some random person found a guild when I played last (you need 10 people to sign a guild charter for you to let you make a new guild, and I thought I'd be nice and help). I think I played one or two more nights after that, thinking it'd be nice to belong to a guild but never really meeting or playing with anyone else in the guild.

So maybe over the last six months, this guild turned rotten and became a bunch of WOW hooligans, and somehow I'm "associated" with them and thus got a permanent ban. Who knows? I sent an email to Blizzard asking for details of why I was banned a few days ago. Will I hear anything back? Probably not--as far as they're concerned, I'm a no good cyberspace criminal and they've already determined they don't want (or certainly need) my money. So, I think that's it.

Do I care? Well, I'm offended that I got labeled a cheater for something I didn't do, and a serious enough one to warrant a permanent ban. I'm offended that these people judged me on some kind of faulty "evidence" and that I have no recourse, no forum in which to plead my case or even obtain any details. Beyond that, probably not. I, like others, have moved on (and now have been "moved on" as well, it seems). I've got plenty of other stuff to do, games that I've already paid for, no less.

Plus I'm thinking of math trading my World of Warcraft boardgame out of spite now (or burning it, I haven't decided which), which means more room in my closet. Always looking on the bright side of life--that's me.

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13 Comments:

At 9:30 PM, August 13, 2008, Blogger Tiffany said...

I say burn it. And Make smores. Roast some hot dogs. You can do all sorts of things with fire. :)

 
At 10:16 PM, August 13, 2008, Blogger Carlos said...

Chris, that's really crappy. I have no idea about what could have happened, but all I can figure is that the WOW people must sift through mountains of data and there cannot possibly be a true investigation of whatever it was that they were looking at. Your account must have gotten swept along with who knows how many others. But being a computer guy myself, a look at the server logs and application log would reveal that you did noting wrong. But many times such investigations take time and resources. I am sorry for your troubles.

Once my bike ride is over I promise to try to have another game of TI3. I got a copy of Galactic Emperor and it looks good. We may be able to convince our Euro-Gamers" to play this one. It has plenty of nice wooden cubes...but then so does Europe Engulfed.

 
At 7:36 AM, August 14, 2008, Blogger Brian said...

Plus I'm thinking of math trading my World of Warcraft boardgame out of spite now

Yeah, but who'd buy from a known criminal?

 
At 6:31 PM, August 14, 2008, Blogger Michael said...

Any chance of contacting them and clearing that situation up?

 
At 8:08 PM, August 14, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

Yeah, I got a followup today from them after emailing them Monday night:

-----------------------

An investigation of your World of Warcraft account has found strong evidence that the account has been accessed by someone who is not allowed to use it. The account has been disabled, so that you can regain sole and secure access. If you use a credit card to subscribe, it has been removed so you are not charged while the account is disabled. Please keep this email until you have regained account access.

-----------------------------

This was followed by a link to a .pdf form that I have to fill out and send back to them with a photocopy of my ID, either fax or postal mail.

So I guess this will get fixed. Still, it feels kind of weird. I wonder what my characters will be like when I log back on. They're either all level 70 or they're all naked and robbed of what little gold they had. I feel like I'm going to need to wear a hazmat suit when I log on again just so I don't mix germs with whoever "violated" my account.

I don't know for sure how this happened. However, in retrospect, I do use my password that's on my WOW account on other sites as well, so who knows how many people have access to it.

Clearly, I need to practice better internet security habits. I should have known better. I just didn't ever really think this would happen to me. I thought I was pretty anonymous, just one of the millions of commuters on the information superhighway.

It could have been worse. It could still BE worse if they try to figure out where else my password works. Time to switch a LOT of passwords. Now if I just had a good way to keep track of them all. Any suggestions from any of the other computer gurus out there?

 
At 8:13 PM, August 14, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

And my credit cards are ok...no unusual recurring WOW charges or anything else. Thank goodness.

 
At 8:43 PM, August 14, 2008, Blogger Carlos said...

I'm surprised that you and Ben never linked up. I thought that he played WOW. I tried about a year ago, but I was not playing enough to justify the expense.

 
At 8:46 PM, August 14, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

Ben and I talked about that. I think we didn't know each other during the WOW heydey. And by the time we did get to know each other, I think we had both reached the same conclusion you did, Carlos.

 
At 10:04 PM, August 14, 2008, Blogger Ben said...

You should definitely run Spybot or something similar immediately.

I have a level 62 plus assorted henchmen in suspended animation, and I don't think I'll ever go back to thaw them out. I still like the WoW universe, but I eventually found just about everything in the game besides instances to be a grind. Instances, though cool, took sometimes all day to run effectively, and I would rather spend my time doing other things.... like X-Box and board gaming.

 
At 10:40 PM, August 14, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

Yeah, that was my experience, too. I wish it wasn't. Plus, I think the instances were more fun when you ran them with people you knew. It was always more fun to say "This is me and my three friends running through this dungeon" rather than "This is me and three strangers running through this dungeon."

I still remember the first night I logged in, though (beta). It was just amazing. The environments, the seamless zones, the animation.

Damn you, nostalgia.

 
At 12:29 PM, August 15, 2008, Blogger seanp said...

Chris - email me your password and I can do a thorough check of all your accounts for you...

;)

 
At 12:31 PM, August 15, 2008, Blogger seanp said...

I recommend a program like roboform or ewallet to create and store passwords effectively. For added security get something like TrueCrypt to store sensitive files on your computer inside of... just don't forget the password to THESE programs, or you'll lock yourself out of the WORLD!

 
At 4:08 PM, August 15, 2008, Blogger Travis said...

I use a really low-tech method, probably not all that secure, but I list all of my passwords on a word document that requires a single password to view. Again, I probably need something a little more secure as well.

 

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