The grim inevitability of hacking: any fool can throw rocks

Friday, 3 January 2014 11:14 GMT By Matt Martin

Steam is down. Origin is down. League of Legends is down. is down. Happy New Year.

Hackers took down the biggest gaming services on the internet this morning. Valve’s Steam was hit, as was EA’s Origin, Blizzard’s and Riot’s League of Legends. A small group, upset that a professional player was streaming gameplay and hoping to make some money from it, was apparently responsible, and even went so far as to cause him to be arrested by armed police.

Luckily, you don’t have to suffer getting a gun pointed at your head, but you still have to face the grim inevitability of your favourite gaming service being hacked, of hitting refresh and staring at you own pudgy reflection in the blank screen. It’s another depressing brick in the wall of online gaming. There’s not much you can do but wait it out. It might last an hour. It might last a month.

Gamers are at the mercy of hackers and they must surely love it. Whether the result of personal vendettas or clumsy politics, we all feel the pain of their bludgeoning attacks. They don’t speak for me and I doubt they speak for you. I just want to play my game, but some asshole has it in a stranglehold, has wrestled it to the floor and is repeatedly DDoSing it in the face. It’s as frustrating for the game-makers as it is for the players, but it’s easy to lose sight of that and just shout at someone, anyone, to fix the fucking thing.

It’s not true anarchy or revolution or politics. It’s throwing rocks for the sake of fucking shit up.

According to today’s reports, all of this morning’s attacks could be thanks to a hacker group, these self-righteous internet vigilantes, being upset with just one person. In truth, it doesn’t matter. They may be annoyed with one corporation, or one game, or the whole world and everyone in it. There is no real justification for hacking a video game, sending a SWAT team to someone’s house, or prank calling a person because they tried to make some money off game streaming. Pranks? What are you, Dennis the Menace?

These gamers who are trying to turn their hobby into a living are entrepreneurial, thinking creatively and doing what we’re all trying to do: turn a job into a fun way of living. They’re not any of the real villains. They’re not the NSA or MI5 or News Corp. They’re not running for president. They didn’t shoot a Kennedy.

These kids attacking games with their mad script skillz are throwing stones. I doubt they fully understand what they’re doing. They may scratch a car or put a window through. They may crack a skull. They may miss completely. Does it take skill and knowledge to bring down a service like Steam? It does, but we don’t have to admire it. It’s not true anarchy or revolution or politics. It’s throwing rocks for the sake of fucking shit up, and damn the consequences. It’s Early Man thumping a car engine because he’s mad at the weather. It makes no sense.

That we just have to accept it is depressing. We can’t ignore it because it’s in our faces, everyone’s fun spoilt. It’s an insult. But what’s the solution? There isn’t one. Security gets beefed up but new attacks will come. It’s a never-ending battle, Sysphus pushing the boulder up the hill. It’s just a shame these latest pests aren’t in the path as it rolls back down to crush them like the cockroaches they are.

I’d like to pitch a solution but I can’t. It doesn’t matter if you think Steam is a monopoly, or Origin is heavy with the ban hammer, or’s customisation options suck, or League of Legends is full of player abuse. These are problems that can be solved over time. It doesn’t look like hacking and DDoSing in games (or cracking, or whatever you want to call it this week) will ever disappear. But we have to stand up to the bullies for the mess and mockery they make. We have to soldier on, condemning the idiots and banding together to support the services we use and love.