Is that orc fighting next to you really a human player or just a robot?

Two hacktivists at DEFCON last week revealed details of a new type of automated World of Warcraft character that can level itself without human control.

The computerised characters can cast spells, fight, select targets, move and even communicate autonomously.

Robots lend a helping hand

GamesBeat reports that James Luedke and Christopher Mooney demonstrated characters they call 'helpers' - but that almost everyone else calls 'robots' - can slog through the dull work of grinding new characters up levels automatically.

To other players, the robots would appear to be human, and the virtual cyborgs can apparently even respond convincingly when challenged by Blizzard's Gamemasters. Blizzard is staunchly opposed to automated characters, and has previously successfully sued the makers of bot software. Anyone found using robots risks having their characters and account deleted.

Luedke and Mooney claimed at the Las Vegas convention that their 'helpers' do not violate WoW's terms' of service, since they used only programming techniques from Blizzard's own WoW API. Hmmm, we're not entirely sure that Blizzard's lawyers will see it that way. More info at https://btp.dod.net.

Via GamesBeat.