Thursday, February 15, 2007

Online Gaming & Geographical Location - The Death of Anonymity

I have come across a rather disturbing practice on

I witnessed it first in DoTA Allstars (the only mod to have extensive third party applications developed exclusively for it's use.)

I am talking about the end of why I love online gaming, the right of each and every gamer to total anonymity. Gender, race, age & location all did not matter, as long as you came to play.

In my decade of online gaming experiences, I had the opportunity to play with a group of skilled of Kuwaiti gamers. Now these guys impressed me for two reasons. Not only were they able to stand toe-to-toe in PvP, but they did so while playing on North American servers which meant they dealt with 1-3 seconds of 'lag' (depending on when Europe was awake.) If you were just watching them play, you would never notice a difference.

Through the same technology which allows us to connect IP addresses to geographical location, a new 3rd party software has emerged which has the simple function of identifying the country of origin for an IP address.

Unfortunately, the new target of this technology has become the online gamer. Browsing the list of public games you will find a collection of "US only" or "US/CA" (United States & Canada) games where they will use this IP sniffing software to enforce their online clique.

I have now also seen the Brazilians do the same, but I think the Americans did it first.

What has amazed me about this software is the number & geographical diversity of players in these online gaming spaces, in almost every game you can find at least one player from a country you may have difficulty finding on a globe.

The skilled player from Bosnia-Herzegovina will now always be banned, and this is a shame. For online gaming used to be one of the last unspoiled spaces.

In the words of Hunter H Thompson,

"There was no point in fighting -- on our side or theirs," he wrote. "We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

No comments: