War… war never changes, this iconic Fallout quote rings so true in light of the real events unfolding. Everywhere humankind goes, war goes with them. It is waged in the air, land, by sea, and now with 1’s and 0’s. The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) has picked a fight with nearly everyone on the planet. Yemen, Kenya, and most recently Paris have felt the brutality and utter chaos this terrorist group can wage on innocent unarmed bystanders. Governments have already mobilized and are counter attacking ISIS strategic targets with missiles and coordinated air strikes, with more actions to follow. The most intriguing warrior entering the arena has to be Anonymous (@GroupAnon), who has declared a digital war on ISIS. This new type of warfare warrants a close look by gamers, as there is perhaps a bold opportunity to reshape minds of would be enemies into something else.
Seem silly in a way? On the surface, ISIS is saying that it is. According to Business Insider, the Islamic State has already issued a response to the hacker group’s formal declaration of war. In this statement, ISIS calls the group “idiots” and sarcastically asks “What are they gonna hack?” If there was nothing to hack, then the instructions to their affiliates to change their IP addresses regularly and not engage in conversations with any unknowns seems like an unnecessary defensive posture. Unlike other terrorist factions in the past, ISIS has made full use of the power of the world wide web including: social media, information distribution to their supporters, and world wide coordination. It is these avenues which will go down first, should the Anonymous group succeed in their efforts. Should they stop with mere disruption tactics?
Anonymous is a hacker group whose members are scattered around the world. They have had successes in the past taking down sites or appropriating sensitive information in response to what they perceive is a just cause. In 2013 the group successfully hacked and downloaded files from the U.S. Justice Department in response to the suicide of Aaron Swartz (Source: Gawker). Anonymous perceived that Swartz, a freedom of information advocate, was pushed into an impossible corner by the U.S. judicial wing and thus counterattacked. Following the previous violence on Charlie Hebdo journalists, the hacker group was able to take down ansar-alhaqq.net (source: The Telegraph), a site known to advocate terrorist strategies in France. Unlike the simple parade of divulging personal information as with the #GamerGate fiasco, Anonymous group has shown they can do some actual cyber-harm. Can their efforts take down ISIS? Can they prevent the next Paris attacks from occurring? No one knows for certain. Does this have any bearing for gamers? It should.
Every single day I do battle with Christians, Jews, Islamists, Athiests, Buddhists, Gingers, Fleabags, Dorks, Geeks, Africans, Elderly, Children, Russians, Turks, French, Whites, and Scientologists. Actually I am not alone in this impartial crusade against everything. If you play online games, you do the same thing I do each and every time you lob a grenade behind a pile of digital sandbags. On the gaming landscape it’s all about fun, pretty much all the time. In the end it is proven who’s the best at whatever game. Race? Religion? Politics? Not even a part of the equation. It’s not even the point of gaming online, you go out and try to dominate everyone. Then you cry yourself to sleep when you lose, and try again the next morning. That’s it. It’s simple.
ISIS and world governments will undoubtedly take more shots at each other, in the end, does anything truly get answered or solved? War? What is it good for? That question was answered in the 60s in a freaking song. The only war worth engaging in nowadays is online, where we all laugh and call each other nubs and try again the next day. As the hacker group Anonymous prepares to infiltrate and create havoc to ISIS’s information network, they need to remember that all attacks will bring on more attacks, but tea bagging some noob in CS-Dust is a lasting memory we can all share and smile about.
I hope each page Anonymous takes down is replaced with an invitation to challenge worldwide gamers to some DOTA 2 tournament. Each stolen file is replaced with a World of Tanks game installer (or Candy Crush Saga if they get real nasty). When any terrorist tries to open their Telegraph app to make a threat they get dropped into a match of VainGlory instead. Have terrorist actions caused it to rain peace, food, wealth, and prosperity for anyone? No. And it’s not going to no matter what bomb is dropped next. Instead millions of gamers world wide may eat too many Ramen noodles, and spend too much money on games, but gamers are having FUN and not truly at odds with anyone.
Hundreds of thousands of people have left Syria escaping the atrocities affecting their homes. Right now they are trying to start a new life elsewhere, but in the future they will have access to better Internet and game machines. Thanks for the surge of potential new players ISIS. It is our sincerest hope Anonymous group is successful in thwarting the senseless carnage by making the Internet inaccessible to them. Maybe there is the hope that Anonymous plants links across terrorist sites to online games to help vent frustrations. Because war is good for nothing, but swarming your base with Zerg, two and a half minutes into the match, is something we can all laugh about for days.