I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.
I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.
World of Warcraft EULA
I don't try to hide the fact that I'm a gamer. I love games. Card games, board games, computer games, strategy games, role-playing games, on-line games. I love them all. I helped start an AD&D club in grade 4 in primary school. I wrote a printer-driver as an English assignment in high-school to print Tolkien's Dwarven runes on a Commodore-64 printer. I'm a gamer, through-and-through.
The gamers of the world are blessed through modern games technology. Present-day computers are capable of producing mouth-wateringly good graphics and sound, and with the rise of the Internet, huge and detailed multi-player games have become available. The early forms of these were the MUDs Multi User Dungeons/Domains/Dimensions, and were text-based. The newer games games are often referred to as MMORPGs Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, and are immersive experiences.
I've played a number of MMORPGs in my time. There's currently a "second generation" of MMORPGs, including Everquest II, Star Wars Galaxies, and World of Warcraft, that build significantly upon what was learnt from older, "first generation" MMORPGs like EverQuest. The second generations MMORPGs are undergoing plenty of growth, and with good reason.
I have a number of friends who play World of Warcraft (WoW), one of the second-generation MMORPGs made by Blizzard Entertainmentww. WoW have had the foresight to include a free "guest pass" with boxed copies of the game. This allows an owner of the game to give their friend a 10-day free trial. I recently had one of these handed to me.
I had a hard time getting through the registration process. In order to participate in the "free trial" one needs to provide name, address, telephone number, and credit card details. It looks like Blizzard isn't interested in anyone participating unless they can provide significant proof they have the capability to go and purchase a boxed-set of the game, and then pay an ongoing subscription fee.
After a day or two I finally agreed to provide Blizzard with what I thought was an excessive amount of registration information. I'm eager to play with new toys, and I have plenty of friends telling me how much they enjoy the game. Having completed the registration, the game starts, and immediately starts to download a patch. I was expecting this, MMORPGs are regularly patched to add new features.
Finally, the patch installs, and an End User License Agreement (EULA) is displayed; and then a second one. Included in the patch is an updated EULA, and it makes a standard MMORPG license look like a walk in the park. In particular, it includes the following:
B. Blizzard Entertainment has the right to obtain certain identification information about your computer and its operating system, including the identification numbers of your hard drives, central processing unit, IP addresses and operating systems, for identification purposes without any further notice to you.
C. Blizzard Entertainment has the right to obtain "non-personal" data from your connection to World of Warcraft in order to make certain demographic assumptions regarding the users of World of Warcraft without any further notice to you.
D. In order to assist Blizzard Entertainment to police users who may use "hacks," or "cheats" to gain an advantage over other players, you acknowledge that Blizzard Entertainment shall have the right to obtain certain information from your computer and its component parts, including your computers random access memory, video card, central processing unit, and storage devices. This information will only be used for the purpose of identifying "cheaters," and for no other reason.
Read in its most broadest form, Blizzard is asking permission to examine every part of my machine. Every bit of data on the hard-drive, and everything in memory. It's unclear if "storage devices" extends to network storage, but it wouldn't surprise me.
I don't really care why Blizzard is harvesting information from my computer, but that's simply something which I consider to be a no-go. It's one thing to say that I can't muck around with their software, but it's an entirely different ball-park when that software decides to monitor and access information on my machine.
This even prompted me to go and look at the EULAs of some other MMORPGs, which don't appear to contain such conditions. I'm glad this doesn't represent an industry-wide move.
Now, here's the part where I feel bad. The draconian EULA was actually displayed as part of the account registration process, and I had made the assumption that it was the same as the warm-and-fluffy EULA that is displayed when the game was installed. I could have saved myself the bother, and my friend their guest-pass, if I had taken the time to note that the yet-another-EULA was actually a different EULA from the more modest one I had agreed to multiple times.
To my friends, who want me to play, I'm sorry. I'm sure that WoW is very good, but the only way I can agree to the present EULA is to establish a dedicated machine just for that purpose. Purchasing another machine just to participate in a free trial? Well, that represents even more dedication to gaming than even I possess.