UCI Esports Reaction to World of Warcraft Player Imprisonment After Online Attack on Blizzard Servers

By Aneesah Akbar and Chelsea Pan

A Romanian player in World of Warcraft, a popular esports game created by Irvine-based company, Blizzard Entertainment, was extradited to the United States and sentenced to one year in federal prison on Monday, May 7 for crashing European servers after becoming involved in disputes with other players. In 2010, 38-year-old Calin Mateias carried out several distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, using multiple computers to transmit a succession of superfluous requests to European Blizzard servers, his target network. His overload of the servers made World of Warcraft unplayable for thousands of players. An investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation led to Mateias’s sentence.

Blizzard Entertainment, the owner and operator of World of Warcraft, is known for creating the internationally popular online role-playing game. In total, Mateias’s attack cost Blizzard about $30,000 in damages that he was ordered to pay in restitution.

The Blizzard case has impacted UCI’s gaming community, home to some of the largest gaming clubs in the nation. 72 percent of undergraduate students identified as gamers in a 2015 survey, and in the same year, College Magazine ranked UCI as the #1 school for gamers in North America.

Patrick Tran, a third-year informatics major and avid gamer said, “Crashing servers is not something that should be done. It really is an attack on the company, so it makes sense that it would be punished criminally rather than an in-game punishment, such as getting your account banned.”

Tran is also a staff member at the UCI Esports Arena and a part of The Associated Gamers (TAG), a UCI gaming club that is one of the largest in the world. The organization aims to introduce members to new games and spread the gaming culture within the UCI community.

Tran added, “I have been working at the Esports arena for about a year now, and I have been a part of TAG (The Associated Gamers) since I started at UCI. The club fosters friendship and community through a common interest in gaming, and I think it is really beneficial for people on campus.”

UCI collectively has 20 Overwatch and League of Legends teams, even offering scholarships to student players. Competitive players train at the UCI Esports Arena, which is the first public college esports arena in the United States. The arena is also open to the campus community at large, and welcomes anyone who enjoys casual gaming.