World of Warcraft takes aim at Chinese censors

Cory Doctorow, writing in the Canadian Globe and Mail, says that some of the more than 4.5 million World of Warcraft players are taking aim at Chinese communist censors. The popular multiplayer online game has a worldwide audience of participants, including many in China.

The gamers intend to subvert the censorship rules against discussing certain topics like freedom and democracy on China's Internet by embedding forbidden information in the game itself. Players can import texts and images and carry them around as they play. As they do so, they can pass that information on to other players.

The information can be blocked, but it will be very expensive to do so. Blizzard Entertainment would be forced to spend much money to block the information passing, or risk losing American players who are angry that other American companies like Cisco, Google, and Yahoo! are working with the Chinese government to not only censor information but identify Chinese users who are writing about forbidden topics.

In at least one case, a Chinese citizen turned in by Yahoo! was imprisoned and tortured. The gamers are forcing Blizzard to take a moral stand. It will be interesting to see how this plays out--in this case, literally.

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