WILDCHOCOBO: Evidence of Final Fantasy fans at the NSA?

German magazine Der Spiegel on Wednesday published a trove of new documents about National Security Agency surveillance in Germany --  including at least one document that suggests there are some fans of the classic Square Enix role-playing video game series Final Fantasy within the agency.

The document, which was related to Boundless Informant, a tool for visualizing global metadata collection by the spy agency that was revealed last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, lists a project called "WILDCHOCOBO."


(Der Spiegel)

Chocobos are a sort of unofficial mascot for the Final Fantasy series, where they have appeared as large, flightless birds that are sometimes domesticated by players and used as mounts since Final Fantasy II. The fictitious avian creature has also starred in a few games of its own.

It's unclear exactly what the project named after the Chocobo was used for, but it's listed as among the top five projects under the header "United States - Collection Information" in the document published by Der Spiegel.

Throughout the last year, documents released by Snowden have revealed a quirky sense of humor among some members of the spy agency -- including sometimes nonsensical code names like "egotistical giraffe" and comic illustrations in PowerPoint presentations.

A different document published by Der Spiegel on Wednesday suggested the spy agency was using gamification, including the earning of points and leveling, to encourage analysts to explore a tool for navigating its vast data troves about global online activities.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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