Project Reynard; A New U.S. Spy Project
I’ve read many articles about how organized crime around the world has been using online games such as World of Warcraft to launder money. Apparently, the government believes that terrorists will also begin using online gaming as a recruitment tool. I’m not sure how realistic that is, or if this is just another hokey addition to the “War On Terror”. When I think about it, we may actually want Al Qaeda playing WoW. After a while, their entire organization will become addicted to the game and not have time to do anything else.
Apparently, the government is starting up a new project titled ‘Project Reynard’ where the behavioral norms of virtual worlds will be studied. I’m not sure if they will catch any terrorists this way, but I’d love to see what data they come up with. The world of online gaming is still a mysterious place to outsiders and perhaps some good will come out of this when it comes to public perception of gamers.
* The cultural and behavioral norms of virtual worlds and gaming are generally unstudied. Therefore, Reynard will seek to identify the emerging social, behavioral and cultural norms in virtual worlds and gaming environments. The project would then apply the lessons learned to determine the feasibility of automatically detecting suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world.
* If it shows early promise, this small seedling effort may increase its scope to a full project.
Reynard will conduct unclassified research in a public virtual world environment. The research will use publicly available data and will begin with observational studies to establish baseline normative behaviors.