Apparently the government will pay you to play video games (and spy)

The holidays are approaching, which reminds me of all the people back home that often ask if I play games for a living. I try to explain that I spend way more time writing (like I’m doing right now), but I think most of my extended family believes I collect a paycheck by playing Call of Warcraft all day. While that’s not a reality for me, such a profession is out there. No, I’m not talking about being a game tester. I’m talking about spying on my fellow Americans in the name of national security.

Yes, as reported by the New York Times and others, new files leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden show that a collection of counter-terrorism agencies were spying via World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Xbox Live over the last few years. Now, I won’t get all political by commenting that secretly invading the privacy of millions of innocents trods upon the principles that this nation was founded upon, and that the seeming lack of any valuable arrests also makes this pursuit incredibly wasteful. What I really care about is that groups like the FBI, CIA, and more were using tax dollars to pay people to play games online. I want in on that money!

As the New York Times puts it, the government not only collected messages and private chats from games, it also sent agents online in search of terrorists using online games to stealthily communicate and recruit would-be operatives. Apparently, no real threat was found over YEARS of surveillance on games like WoW and Second Life--though I always assumed extremists had hired pre-teen males to say horrible things on Xbox Live as a way of making me lose faith in my country. But as these operatives secretly watched you level up in WoW, they were getting paid to play. That sounds like an awesome deal, but the NSA needs real gamers if they want to get the best return on their clandestine WoW clans.

I’ve got to think the NSA would be better served hiring someone like me than a dude who joined the FBI to, I don’t know, actually stop violent terrorists. My Gamerscore alone is impressive enough to get a would-be bin Laden to confide in me all of his or her crimes. And if I had illegal access to messages on Live or, I’d be one step ahead of every possible terrorist I played against. Yes, some former agents misused NSA information for personal gain, but I promise you I’ll try my hardest not to get caught doing that.

Now, I’m writing this directly to the NSA in the hopes that they’ll eventually read this as part of an uneventful investigation, so let me be blunt guys. If you hire me, I won’t play Second Life for any amount of money. If terrorists want to hang out with the sad sacks that play Second Life, those anti-Americans can have it. Besides, I bet the insurgents have moved onto League of Legends by now.

Whether or not I end up with a sweet government job from this article, let this be a lesson to younger gamers out there. As online gaming continues to grow, the NSA will need more and more people to spy on their fellow players. You could be just the person to join the War on Terror, keeping an eye out for Islamic extremists as you pwn noobs. I can think of no better public service.


  • talleyXIV - December 10, 2013 3:19 p.m.

    They have***
  • winner2 - December 10, 2013 1:08 p.m.

    This happened? Are you for realsies? Is that our tax money?
  • JustAnotherRogueAI - December 10, 2013 12:16 p.m.

    Can't imagine what it must be like to (attempt) to have a serious talk about this line of work. "George, this is the third time this year that you haven't met your weekly WoW playtime quota. I'm afraid that we're going to have to let you go. Please turn in your badge, your sword, and your enchanted armor as soon as possible. We'll give you half an hour to clean out your desk of any collectibles, statues, game guides, and other property. Your partner xX#TrollMaster#Xx will be reassigned, don't worry. Your trade and mission records will be sent to you by tomorrow, along with your final paycheck. It's been a pleasure raiding with you, George, and I'm sorry that it's come to this."
  • db1331 - December 10, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    "Apparently, no real threat was found over YEARS of surveillance" You don't say? What were they expecting to find? Someone asking in chat "LF3M for DC attack. Must have hatred for capitalist american pigs."
  • Ensoul - December 10, 2013 7:22 a.m.

    This sounds like the plot fora sitcom.... D.A.D.S.: Homeland
  • GOD - December 10, 2013 12:01 a.m.

    I don't know which line is better: "but I promise you I’ll try my hardest not to get caught doing that." or "If you hire me, I won’t play Second Life for any amount of money."
  • Shigeruken - December 9, 2013 10:50 p.m.

    Those who trade liberty for security will find they have neither.
  • Sy87 - December 9, 2013 9:33 p.m.

    Dammit, I bet I'm on a list for always playing the spetsnaz on COD or the Russians in Battlefield. I mean could you not want to. They are so cool. Crap I hear vans outside my apartment,
  • shawksta - December 9, 2013 5:09 p.m.

    I didnt know if you meant being able to play and spy, or the government paying you and spying on you. Guess technically both is right. Me,Having been fluent in the language and culture(but not advance, heh) sounds like a good advantage, then again i dont think itll do well for me knowing im part of said culture that has these monsters ruining our reputation to the public. But i dont want to push this into something ugly so ill zip it.
  • BladedFalcon - December 9, 2013 4:58 p.m.

    Hey, I'd like to be paid to be a spy, doing nothing but play videogames, where do I sign up? ...On second though, that would mean that most of what i'd play would have to be online multiplayer stuff, so never mind :P
  • Cyberninja - December 9, 2013 4:22 p.m.

    Henry don't mysteriously disappear after writing this
  • TokenGamesRadarFurry - December 9, 2013 9:20 p.m.

    "Gilbert. Henry Gilbert...H. E. N. R. Y."

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