It's No Longer a Game.Edit This Entity
Looking at the basic standpoint of RuneScape combat, it's a very simple mechanic; you attack your opponent until one of you dies. This was how combat was during the RuneScape Classic era. As time wore on, new tools were used by PKers to quickly finish off their opponent. From amongst these tools: special attacks, spells like Vengeance and stronger weaponry. In-game updates, however, were not the only factors that changed PvP.
Imagine this: you're fighting an opponent and you have a clear advantage over them. Everything seems to be going well for you, and then suddenly you disconnect from RuneScape. Your first thoughts being that it is just a hiccup in the servers. However, based on the situation, you soon realize what just happened. Your mouse is clicking hopelessly in your inventory on your teletab to save you should you come back in time. Your connection restabilizes just in time to see your character appear back next to Edgeville bank. Four letters comprise your rage-filled mind: DDOS.
First of all, for those who are not aware of what I am referring to, the person who disconnected was the victim of a distributed denial of service or DDoS attack. It involves the use of flooding a server/connection to render it inoperable. These sort of attacks are examples of a powerful level of cheating that involves tools outside of the game. Even though these attacks have been around for a while, the accessibility to these tools were limited in the past. So limited in fact that only elite groups of hackers had access to them. However, as time progressed, the ease of obtaining these tools increased. As a result, video game players gained access to them and it finally found its way to regular use in the RuneScape community.
As shown with the example situation, the user of the tool has full control on the outcome of a PvP battle. This means it is not limited to just the Wilderness but to the Duel Arena as well (where many, if not most, of the incidents have occurred). This resulted in a vast amount of wealth gained—and lost—through these means.
Why do players cheat? Would this not ruin the thrill of PKing in general? In any game, an advantage over one player is seen as favourable to use by their opponent. RuneScape is a game requiring a vast amount of wealth in order to progress in the game. With this, and a strong gold selling market, it's reasonable to assume that winning in a PvP match is necessary. So, instead of players PKing for pure enjoyment, they are PKing for the wealth that comes with it. So, if you can guarantee a win, why would it not be used?
There is one Achilles heel of this, however. You need to have the IP address of someone in order to successfully DDoS them. As time progressed, players have become creative in ways of obtaining this important information. This includes requiring them to talk through MSN or Skype and linking to a picture hosted privately where it logs the IP address of any computer that loads it. These 'scraper' images have become so popular that many fansites (and larger clan sites) have implemented an image whitelist system that requires image hosts to be approved before being used. Even though the images can be linked to directly through private chats, the removal of the ability of posting them on major fansites safeguards users from being tricked into loading a topic which results in the victim handing over their IP address.
DDoS attacks are also very familiar to the clan world. So familiar in fact that every official from the team of every top clan has some form of preparations in case of an attack. Now, usually the target of the attacks are TeamSpeak servers which will impede the performance of the clan. Since orders from the leaders of clans and teams are done through TeamSpeak or other audio programs, preventing this communication to members is quite detrimental to a clan's performance. But, especially in fights that take place in the Clan Wars Arena, members can be targeted as well which can give an advantage to a specific clan since often times the ability to return is restricted or if not then kills are counted towards overall victory. The problem that a lot of people do not seem to acknowledge is that it does not have to be one of the participating clans that are launching the attack. Most of the time it is a third party clan who does not think favourably towards a particular clan.
This particular topic hits close to home for me. At the time of writing this, there is less than a week before the final round of the full out Jagex Cup fight. It seems silly to think that a clan not only has to prepare for their opponent in-game, but they have to prepare for them out of the game as well. As a result, the skill of the clan over the other becomes less of an importance due to this particular form of cyber warfare completely separate from the game itself.
Even though this may seem to be a very dark corner of RuneScape, it is not the darkest. The consequences after all are in-game. If you lose a fight or get disconnected because you were the target of a DDoS attack, then any items or status lost is within the game. However, another practice commonly referred to as "doxing" takes a more twisted turn.
Many of us imagine playing RuneScape, being a game over the Internet, to have some aspect of anonymity. After all, with your choice of screen name, you can be anyone you desire. You are not John Smith, sales associate at Home Hardware. Instead you can be the great Goblinkiller22, the saviour of the land and its people. However, what if that image changed? If one day your pictures, your relatives and even your phone number, address and where you go to school suddenly became public knowledge? John has just become another victim of doxing. Now, that cushion of being behind a screen thousands of miles away suddenly starts deflating. Many who see it may just laugh, but can you really trust the whole world of complete strangers with that information? There are those individuals who seem to feel it is necessary to harass them outside of the game or perhaps harassing family members instead of the victim personally. Ignoring the legality of this issue, is this entirely necessarily to bring something outside of a game in response to something in-game? Fights happen inside of the arena, not outside of it.
Let's backtrack a little bit. Playing a game is meant to be fun and perhaps something to do to get away from the stress of the real world. However, it appears that this is no longer the case. The stress of the game is no longer something that is restricted to just that: being in the game. It creates an entirely different perspective. This perspective being that the game is no longer worth playing. The perspective that is seen by outsiders as something they do not want to involve themselves with. This is where games stop being enjoyable. This is where games die. As more and more participate in this type of activity, it accelerates this fate even more.
Why are we interested in being a civilization if we no longer want to be civil?