When you play an MMO, and I really mean play it, you invest every single fiber of your existence into it, dedicating a portion of your life to virtual currency and meta-physical items that mean nothing at all to the common person. But, that doesn’t matter to you, I’m sure, as it doesn’t matter to the millions of MMO gamers out there that just want nothing more than their own personal gratification. This becomes especially more true to games with a lot to invest in like Wildstar, SWTOR, Everquest, FFXIV:ARR, and of course, WoW. But sometimes, as time goes by, the meaning of this satisfaction that has led you through a maddening grind through the months or years may lead you to taking them for granted, figuring that your experience with the game has earned you respite in the wrong ways, making for an ironically grand game of trivial pursuit. You may or may not take a break, trying other endeavors and simply wanting to purge yourself of too much WoW and the length of time you visit Azeroth gets smaller and smaller. You know you’ll come back in full strength one day, but today simply is not the day. Then, sooner than you think, your little vacation halts on its tracks, realizing that you’ve just received word that you account had gotten locked. Why? Because of a word that I would never wish other MMO gamers to ever see within their lifetimes, or never a second one at that: Compromised.
OH, GOOD LORD, MY STUFF!
As a victim to account hacking not too long ago, and I really mean, not too long ago, it made me realize that I should have held some aspects of my WoW life in higher regard. Like, all of it. Eespecially my stuff. Yes, the painstakingly farmed, gathered, swindled by mistake, fought tooth and nail at the black market, everything; all those things suddenly have gone up in both in my mind’s market and the sentimental value real estate. The degree of shame that my characters had to go through as I checked them one by one when the event happened as they ran naked across the hallowed halls of the Shrine of the Seven Stars, with nothing more than a tabbard to cover my monk’s tender bits are not some of my fondest recent memories. With the opening of every bag, I found nothing left except for those that could not be discarded or could not be sold, and it goes without saying that everything not nailed to the floor in my personal vault was sold without prejudice.
And if it wasn’t bad enough, even my guild’s vault wasn’t safe from this nefarious gold-selling hacker, as he or she proceeded to take out every sort of valuable commodity that we share and took hundreds of thousands of gold that was slowly earned during the tenure of our guild’s activity. We had a lot of gold; enough to feed a hundred hungry nooblet guildies with free repairs, profession power leveling, and a lot of tundra mammoths if we ever were a zerg guild. Before you ask, no, we don’t have withdrawal limitations because, as a solid, tightly-knit raiding group of 12, we never had any trust issues of any sort. Well, until now.
In it’s entirety, the theft doesn’t look like much, as the hardened MMO veteran would shrug this off and say something badass like “Hah! More reason to farm then!” And, true enough, I do feel that way, but locking on the specifics taken from me, it tells another attitude; one of sorrow, regret, and massively pissed off. Heirlooms! My damned heirlooms! The loss of all my heirlooms in the highest three raid difficulties of Siege of Orgrimmar are the most painful with the experience. You might say that it might be easy for me to farm for it again, given that we still have few more months before the coming of Warlords of Draenor, but considering the effort that I had give in order to acquire them, and the fact that I got those heirlooms on the first try in their respective difficulties, and the gear even required to get there in the first place, would make anyone regret having taken anything for granted. There’s just so much more to an item that meets the eye; the background, the hardships, the joy, as each piece tells a different story, no matter where it’s from or what kind of person has it.
OH, GOOD LORD, MY REAL LIFE STUFF!
Past all my WoW losses, more misfortune came in the form of real monetary transactions. Due to an oversight on my part, I left my paypal account still with a billing agreement with Blizzard as I have used it as a means for my recurring subscription. Fortunately, I never keep any money in the account but my credit card was billed for two character transfers that initiated a transfer of my priest and hunter to separate servers, indicating that, after the hacker/s sold all my stuff and ransacked any precious item from my vaults, planted it on those two characters to trade off to another account on another server. Even with the billing agreement, Paypal still should have asked for my password and, frighteningly, they got that right too. That’s twenty five bucks a pop for the transfers that had me calling my bank. From a nihilistic point of view, I could have just chalked the empty inventory and missing gear as a spot of bad luck, but it just got worse once I was threatened with a real threat to my monetary security.
For what it’s worth, about an hour after my submission of my ticket to Blizzard’s CS, i received a reply informing me that my account has been locked and that I had to go through a lot of hoops and leaps just to get it going again. As I am currently in the process of waiting for how things will turn out, I’ve been assured by some friends who have had this happen to them that at least some of the lost items will be restored. Frankly, all I really want are my heirlooms back and for the hacker/s to get the crap banned out of them. Sure, it won’t stop them, but at least it’ll throw a wrench into their douchey metaphoric gears. With the non-authorized transactions negated, I could rest easy at least.
I could go on all about the Could’ves, Would’ves, and Should’ves, but I won’t; instead, I’m going to warn everyone about this horrendous act that could happen to just about anyone. It’s a very real thing and Lord knows that I’m one of those people who kept thinking it would never happen to me, personally. But it did. Now what do I have to show for it? A naked Night Elf and a tier 6 geared Tauren Paladin. So here are a few tips to help against hacking:
1. Use unique passwords – I simply can’t stress that enough. Your battle net account, paypal, email, and everything else that might hold something precious to you has to have their completely unique passwords. No, don’t just use a variation of your regular password; get something completely different. I’ve done what I said you shouldn’t be doing, but I thought the initial intricacy of my default password was enough, let alone having variations of it, but that definitely made it easier to hack into my WoW and paypal account.
2. Get the god damned authenticator – It may seem like a waste of money, but go on ahead and take on Blizzard’s offer. It’s a small price to pay for an added layer of security compared to the possible time lost once those black market shoulders you killed for goes to some npc for a few bits of gold. From here on out, I’m using it too. Sure, it may not completely prevent hacking, but it’ll help a god damned lot. Deterrance is just as good as an invulnerable fortress.
3. Remove your crap when you’re done – Paypal, credit cards, or anything else attached to your account should be removed if your taking a break, or at the very most, disconnect them from your account once you’re done with a transaction with Blizzard. Never let them remain longer than the intended purpose of purchasing something. That was my mistake that cost me some very preventable hassles if only I took more care of where I put my crap.
4. Pass the damned guild lead – If you so happen to be a guild leader like how I am, make sure to pass on the leadership to someone you trust who has no chance of taking a break or quitting WoW any time soon. If you can tell from what I stated earlier, everyone becomes piss-poor when power goes to asshats. You wouldn’t want that for your friends now, would you?
Not Now! Draenor is So Close!
With Warlords of Draenor this close, this could be the worst possible in-game thing that could happen to anyone. We’re all gearing up with heirlooms and gold, as well as the alternate currencies that could become gold once the expansion hits, a heist like this is in no way in anyone’s itinerary. Hopefully, I can get my heirlooms back at least and a little bit of cash to help me on my way through Draenor, but the damage has already been done. It reallly won’t feel the same anymore, not when you see the characters you’ve grown so fond of gear-butchered like that. Your time and experience in WoW makes it much more than a game; it makes it a part of your life, a legitimate hobby, a dear reprieve from the real world. Take good care of it because it’s taken care of you.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Column, Community, Event (Real Life), World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday