Think we can all agree these are pretty exciting times. Matter of fact, might be more exciting than we had any inkling. Recent revelations indicate we’ve all become inadvertent assets in governmental spy operations. You may have thought the NSA was everywhere, but you didn’t know the half of it. And no, there shouldn’t be a humming, red LED under your bed.
The New York Times says our friends at the Black Chamber are not only opening our mail and listening to our phone calls, but are now lurking in and monitoring online game rooms like World of Warcraft and Second Life. Are those trolls or undercover spooks? Or both? Not just an operations chief but a night elf-hunter guild leader as well. James Bond’s new assignment - to enchant a goblin priest. Zelda - a princess, sure, but where does she go at night?
The professional eavesdroppers out of Fort Meade claim their only goal is to thwart terrorism but that’s pretty much their answer to everything these days, including lunch at Quizno’s. “Why do you always get the Italian combo?” “National security.” “Please clean up the broken glass resulting from your idiot friends’ juvenile beer tossing antics.” “Can’t. National security.” “What happened to your toe?” “National F%*$!#G security.”
Who knows why they’re really creeping around? Could be checking out skill sets. Filling emergency requests from division commanders. “Major! Wander around Call of Duty: Black Ops II. We need an infantryman who can go to his left. If he could take out multiple drones with a single RPG, that wouldn’t hurt. Then check Grand Theft Auto for someone who can steer with his knees while switching magazines on an Uzi. And requisition more mushrooms from Mario.”
These data-mining epiphanies do us the double dirt of giving gamers a too convenient excuse as well. “Mother, pleeeease get off my back. I will have you know I am not wasting time. I am gathering extremely critical counterintelligence.” Nerds are the future of war. The elite soldiers of tomorrow can be found climbing ladders and throwing beer kegs at gorillas today.
And we know the NSA is cheating. Think of the secret backdoor codes they can uncover using their megawatt super computers. Orcish hordes evaporating. And knowing gamers, being under constant surveillance probably acts as an added attraction. Having the NSA watch every foray into gem collection only adds layers. Leading to subterfugal feints and the dropping of phony bread crumbs. If you can’t execute a quadruple cross, don’t bother.
Seems like we got this all turned around. It’s we people who should have the privacy with the government being transparent. Not to mention, the spectacle of federal employees spending whole days playing video games makes a man proud to pay his taxes, don’t it? If they were smart, they’d give each of us a free PlayStation 4. If they were smart.
Get used to it, people. There are no safe houses anymore. The new Xbox has a camera and microphone that retain function while pointing at your couch even when the game is off. Someone is watching us watch television, and you know somebody else is watching them. We’re all going to end up like Gene Hackman at the end of “The Conversation.” “Coming This Winter. Paranoia: The Gathering. Don’t just play the game. Be the game.”
‑ Will Durst’s “Raging Moderate” columns are distributed by Cagle Cartoons, Inc. (firstname.lastname@example.org).