You might think you know World of Warcraft, but you don’t know it the way Ian Bates does.
Like many of the millions of players of the massively multiplayer online game, the Florida teen obsessed over WoW’s fantasy world. He devoured all the non-fiction books written about Warcraft, and tried his hand at writing fan fiction set in the land of Azeroth.
One day in 2010, when he was 17, Bates was reading another Warcraft novel and noticed that something was out of whack. There was a character described in the plot of the novel, Falstad Wildhammer, that should have appeared within the game’s world, but he was nowhere to be found.
So when Bates went to that year’s Blizzcon, the annual weekend event where developer Blizzard meets its fans, he had one mission. During a Q&A session, he stepped up to the microphone to demand an explanation of the discrepancy from the lead writers of Warcraft lore. Clearly amused but grateful, Blizzard’s story leads promised to fix the plot hole.
Video of the question went viral, earning millions of views. They called him “Red Shirt Guy.” But it wasn’t the color of his clothes or the content of the exchange that caused people to share the question, it was Bates’ cringeworthy awkwardness: the stammering, the unusual rising and falling pitch inflections of his voice, and the intense concentration on remarkably minute details.
Bates has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that he says makes him feel extreme anxiety in certain social situations. Speaking at that microphone, he said, was one of the hardest things he’s ever done. His voice sounds “robotic and weird” if he has to initiate a conversation, Bates says. I point out that he seems comfortable talking to me on the phone. “You started talking to me first,” he says, matter-of-factly.
More @ Game|Life.
It’s early February in Cancun, Mexico. A group of 60 or so financial analysts, reporters, diplomats, and cybersecurity specialists shake off the previous night’s tequila and file into a ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. At the front of the room, a giant screen shows a globe targeted by crosshairs. Cancun is in the center of the bull’s-eye.
A ruddy-faced, unshaven man bounds onstage. Wearing a wrinkled white polo shirt with a pair of red sunglasses perched on his head, he looks more like a beach bum who’s lost his way than a business executive. In fact, he’s one of Russia’s richest men—the CEO of what is arguably the most important Internet security company in the world. His name is Eugene Kaspersky, and he paid for almost everyone in the audience to come here. “Buenos dias,” he says in a throaty Russian accent, as he apologizes for missing the previous night’s boozy activities. Over the past 72 hours, Kaspersky explains, he flew from Mexico to Germany and back to take part in another conference. “Kissinger, McCain, presidents, government ministers” were all there, he says. “I have panel. Left of me, minister of defense of Italy. Right of me, former head of CIA. I’m like, ‘Whoa, colleagues.’”
He’s bragging to be sure, but Kaspersky may be selling himself short. The Italian defense minister isn’t going to determine whether criminals or governments get their hands on your data. Kaspersky and his company, Kaspersky Lab, very well might. Between 2009 and 2010, according to Forbes, retail sales of Kaspersky antivirus software increased 177 percent, reaching almost 4.5 million a year—nearly as much as its rivals Symantec and McAfee combined. Worldwide, 50 million people are now members of the Kaspersky Security Network, sending data to the company’s Moscow headquarters every time they download an application to their desktop. Microsoft, Cisco, and Juniper Networks all embed Kaspersky code in their products—effectively giving the company 300 million users. When it comes to keeping computers free from infection, Kaspersky Lab is on its way to becoming an industry leader.
More @ Danger Room.
[Photo: Stephen Voss]
No one but Hector Xavier Monsegur can know why or when he became Sabu, joining the strange and chaotic Internet collective known as Anonymous. But we know the moment he gave Sabu up. On June 7, 2011, federal agents came to his apartment on New York’s Lower East Side and threatened the 28-year-old with an array of charges that could add up to 124 years in prison. So Hector Monsegur, who as Sabu had become a mentor and icon to fellow members of Anonymous, surrendered his online identity to a new, equally faceless and secretive master: the FBI.