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An Investigation into the MLG Downtime

July 25th, 2011 by

The Midlife Gamer site has come under, what I believe to be, an unprecedented cyber attack, one that makes the PSN breach look like a minor snafu. It’s still too early to analyse what effect this attack has had on the community and the industry as a whole but my journalistic instincts tell me to expect the very worst for the future of the internet. I’m not in business of scare mongering but you should all panic. Who knows what data has been leaked to nefarious organisations and individuals. I for one am terrified.

In my investigation of the Midlife Gamer downtime we interviewed several community members and staff to try and get to the bottom of this tragedy. And the illegal phone taps gave us even more shocking information.

One intercepted conversation suggests this may have been an inside job. I listened in on a phone call between one of the Community Managers, Adamski, and Chief Editor, Greg Giddens.
“Looks like it worked” said Greg Giddens. “Any regrets?”
“You’re fucking joking?!” said Adamski. “Shutting the site down has been the best few days of my life! Nice to get a break from the 24 hour policing of the site.”

I caught up with Adamski to further understand his comments. I asked him if he had any idea this would or could happen to the site and how it has affected him these last few days?
“Nope, didn’t have any warning about this. Came right out of the blue.” said an obviously lying Adamski. “How has it affected me? Well…it has been like having my umbilical severed. Stopping the flow of news, reviews and community banter had given me noticeable withdrawal symptoms. My skin is darker from over exposure to daylight, my wife says I’m been a lot ‘chattier’ this past week and I’ve had an irrational compulsion for DIY. Thankfully, that’s all back to normal now, but for a while…it was hell.”

I played back the intercepted conversation between himself and Greg Giddens and asked him to explain his comments.
“People out there might not realise, but myself and the community managers are constantly editing the forum content. We have to write phantom threads, remove at least 20 posts from spam bots every day, put in fake spelling and grammar mistakes, edit links to pictures, correct avatars and signatures, delete an inordinate amount of posts that contravene the Terms of Service, send welcome messages to new members and all the stuff that goes on behind the curtain, like posting up replies that look they’re from Matt or Daren. It’s been a welcome release. For the briefest of moments my life returned to ‘normality’. I’ve been able to actually play video games, spend time with my family and pull my weight at work. But in all honesty, I’m glad to see the site back. It is a diversion from the general banality of life with a great community spirit and the only place other than the toilet, that I can find peace.”

I also tried to reach Greg Giddens for his response but he had no comment on the matter. I then asked Adamski about how he feels as a user of the site, and whether he thinks compensation is likely.
“Compensation? Well, the time and financial losses as a direct result of this ‘maintenance’ period are insurmountable. One cannot begin to calculate how the blow could be softened.”

The idea of compensation, it turns out, is a quite a popular one. We spoke with ex-Editor and PR Manager, Peter Willington about how the downtime has affected him.
“Honestly, I’ve signed up for this completely free service of great articles, awesome community and delectable podcasts that Midlife Gamer provides and not being able to access these for a small period of time has almost assuredly ruined my life.” said a distort Peter Willington.” I’ve given the people who make this fair site nothing in return for hundreds of hours entertainment and I’m utterly furious that I’ve been inconvenienced in this way. I’ll be speaking with my council on the matter and – should I not be compensated in a manner I deem acceptable in the meantime – will be writing a series of letters to my local papers containing the phrases ‘shambles’, ‘travesty’ and ‘gave me crabs’, as well as comparing them to the Nazi movement of the early forties.”

Once again I contacted Greg Giddens for a statement but he replied again with “Nein Comment”, however, community member and contributor, Jon Brown, was able to speak on his behalf.
“This criminal act against our website had a significant impact not only on our subscribers, but our entire industry. Maybe even the world.” said Jon Brown. “These illegal attacks obviously highlight the widespread problem with cyber-security and squirrel hackers. We take the security of our subscribers’ information very seriously and are committed to helping you guys protect your personal data, such as your favourite Kirby ASCII, or your personal opinion on whether cake-based products are indeed a falsification. In addition, the staff has worked around the clock for over an hour to bring these services back online, and will do so only after we had verified increased levels of security across our networks, and eradicated, once and for all, the hacker squirrels.”

Of course not all of the community has suffered from this outage. Community member and contributor, Godtodd, said:
“What outage? To be honest I don’t really pay much attention to the site unless I’m fishing for compliments on my Game of the Month backgrounds.”

This was parroted by mysterious contributor and community menace, Mercurio Silver, who said:
“The Midlife Gamer site was down? I hadn’t even noticed. I guess the puerile readership never had the chance to read my brilliant words in my latest rant then? So I wasted my time writing it! I’ll get you Greg, mark my words”

I also caught up with Community Manager BaronVonPleb who, in his drunken state, muttered the following:
“So it says ‘Sorry, down for maintenance’. But are they really sorry? I’m not so sure. And to cap it all they’re asking me not to panic. How did they know I’m currently seeing a ‘professional’ to help with my anxiety? Are they reading my PM’s?!? I’m quite offended. Everyone knows I suffer from narcolepsy, so mixing that with patches of anxiety, how in the name of Bill Murray am I going to be able to ‘not panic’? Wait…don’t I work for these people?”

BaronVonPleb went on to say:
“With the forum being out of action I’ve found it really difficult. I’m really struggling to contain all my rage and ranting regarding the latest Game of the Month. Will I be compensated after Discobeaver and Greg Giddens pull me apart for not reviewing the game properly? No. I will have to do my usual. Drink beer and hope no one notices. Hic”

We must also consider the legal ramifications after such a serious event. Copy Editor Steve Peacock had this to say on the matter.
“I believe legal action should be taken against MLG. I’m a social recluse in reality, taking away the link to other people that the MLG forum provides has filled my soul with the darkness of loneliness for several days. I couldn’t go outside to socialise, that would have been crazy. I’ll be suing MLG, for sure.”

Surely Midlife Gamer must respond to their disgruntled community and fans. Community member and contributor, Dave Moran had this to say about recompense.
“Thanks to this ‘outage’ I’ve had to resort to actually doing stuff at work, like actually work! Honestly, if I don’t get a video apology from Matt or Daren or some funny stuff to read on the website soon there will be trouble!”

The community is clearly distressed about this whole debacle and I was finally able to get a statement from Greg Giddens.
“You scare mongering bastard!” proclaimed Greg Giddens “You have blown the standard downtime for site maintenance into a scandalous event. What kind of journalist are you? You don’t work for News International by any chance do you?”

Greg Giddens’ frustration is clear and his answers are shrouded in aggressive question reflection. Perhaps the site founders and podcast hosts, Matthew Moore and Daren Baldock, could explain the situation better. I asked them, what data has been lost and what plans are in place to compensate the community for the temporary loss of such a crucial everyday service?
“I can assure you that the data loss from the outage is minimal and community data was definitely not sold on to other companies for ludicrous amounts of money…” said Matthew Moore “Incidentally we’re holding a welcome back competition, more about that will be announced shortly. Now we’re back you can expect tons of quality content on the site, and Daren and I will definitely not be leaving the country to live out the rest of our lives in splendour with the ill gotten money for the sharing of all your passwords and credit card details…”

So finally, after over a week of downtime, the site returns and the Midlife Gamer staff have promised that its community data is safe. I still don’t believe them, my instincts tell me something sinister is going on behind the scenes. And so I shall keep my identity secret and continue to investigate the Midlife Gamer staff. You can be sure that any and all nefarious deeds will be shared with you if, no when, I uncover them.

This is the Anonymous Reporter signing off.

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