Somebody Somewhere Is Starting The Gamer’s Rights Movement

Annalee Newitz tells me that video game developers are looking for cheaters by installing spyware with their games. Blizzard, developer of World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo is among the biggest names doing this.

Greg Hoglund, quoted at Copyfight, notes:

I watched the [software] warden sniff down the email addresses of people I was communicating with on MSN, the URL of several websites that I had open at the time, and the names of all my running programs, including those that were minimized or in the toolbar.

Warden is the name of Blizzard’s spyware app, and they apparently describe it in their terms of service. Here’s Newitz:

[It] snoops through your entire computer looking for “unauthorized third-party programs” that allow users to “hack” or “modify” the online game environment or “cheating of any kind.” Warden then “communicates the information” it finds back to Blizzard. This “communication” process is described in alarmingly capacious terms that make it clear Blizzard has the option of examining your PC’s hard drive anytime it wants.

I’m growing more likely to agree with Matt that video games — especially MMOs — are ripe for serious legal study. See also Wide World of Video Games and Game Law Redux.