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World of Warcraft fans fool AI site into writing about a fake feature

The rich history of Glorbo in Hearthstone

World of Warcraft - a bulky Kul Tiran male in warlock gear powers up a fire spell with his hands. Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

World of Warcraft fans faked a fervor over a fictional game feature called “Glorbo,” and the stunt went viral when AI-assisted websites credulously reported on the made-up feature. It’s a joke that is ridiculous on the surface, but reveals a deeper anxiety among World of Warcraft fans.

I’m so excited they finally introduced Glorbo!!!” is the title of the viral Reddit post by user kaefer_kriegerin. Here’s the opening of the post itself:

Honestly, this new feature makes me so happy! I just really want some major bot operated news websites to publish an article about this.

I have to say, since they started hinting at it in Hearthstone in 1994, it was obvious that they would introduce Glorbo to World of Warcraft sooner or later.

It doesn’t take a keen expert to realize that Glorbo isn’t real, as a new feature or otherwise. It’s a silly-sounding word, padded with enough made-up copy like “I feel like Dragonflight has been win after win so far, like when they brought back Chen Stormstout as the end boss of the new Karazhan? Absolutely amazing!” to hopefully fool an AI. Sure enough, the ploy worked: An outlet called The Portal, which is published by the esports platform Z League, went for it. The Portal has since taken down its Glorbo write-up, but an archived version exists, and community site Wowhead wrote about the topic as well. Polygon has reached out to Z League about the Glorbo piece and the process of writing articles, and will update when the company responds.

In isolation, this is just a silly goof. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Blizzard add a Glorbo NPC to the game in a later patch. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a community in-joke or funny meme was enshrined in the MMO. But there’s a reason this trap was relatively easy to set — Blizzard regularly updates World of Warcraft, releasing new expansions and then following up on its premise with successive patches. Those patches become the topic of much discussion, with players reading into data-mined spoilers and giving critical feedback on new customization options,

Incidents like the Glorbo debacle threaten that process, as they can create an overwhelming amount of noise. The Portal posts dozens of articles a day, seemingly using AI tools to scrape social media for even the most vaguely interesting story hook. World of Warcraft may be a pulpy fantasy game, but it still regularly gets content updates that require feedback and discussion — and it would be a shame to see those conversations drowned out in a sea of Glorbo-esque articles scraped off of forums with no further thought.

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