A famous line uttered by the evil Vizzini in The Princess Bride holds that one should "Never get involved in a land war in Asia..." But what if said Asian land war is taking place online?
Joystiq reports that a border war of sorts has broken out between Chinese and South Korean players in the massively multiplayer online game Lineage. Actually, massacre might be the better word. Tired of apparent identity theft and ninja looting perpetrated by suspected Chinese "sweatshop" gaming companies, Korean Lineage devotees have been hunting down and killing Chinese players who show up on Korean servers.
It's no small problem. More than 220,000 South Koreans have reported to police that their identities have been stolen. A fair number of these are apparently being used by Chinese gold farming companies to create Lineage accounts. Sweatshop workers then play the fraudulent accounts incessantly, selling items they acquire for real-world cash through websites. The sweatshop workers' tireless quest for marketable items includes breaking the unwritten MMO rule of not looting another player's kill. Thus, frustrated Korean Lineage fans find the loot from monsters they worked so hard to take down scavenged by other players.
Apparently, Korean servers have been targeted because they have a higher population of real players. Conversely, more trade opportunites exist.
Vigilante - pixelante? - gangs of Korean players are now patrolling servers, questioning players suspected of being in the employ of gold farming companies. According to one player, the test is simple: "You can tell they are Chinese because they can't speak Korean." Any non-Korean players found are slaughtered.
NCsoft, makers of Lineage, have stepped in on the side of the Korean players, banning select Chinese IPs from accessing the game. The company has taken this action primarily because it disapproves of item trading which it believes is an exclusively Chinese practice.
J: It's almost funny when the best use for identify theft is creating MMO accounts... Hopefully with the IP banning, the problem will diminish, although I doubt it will disappear altogether. There's also the problem of "mob justice." What if the player just didn't want to respond to all the messages spammed their way? I'll bet there's been a few Korean players who have gotten lynched by mistake.