Tag Archives: Ethics

I’m Not Here to Scream “IT’S JUST A GAME” at You

Why do I sometimes feel guilty when playing WoW?

It’s not because I play too much, or have other duties that I neglect, it’s far more understated than that.

It’s because of some of the things I do inside the game … I know this may sound like I’m coming out as a severely brutal griefer or corpse camper right now, but don’t worry, I’m not here to scream “IT’S JUST A GAME” at you. In fact, I’m trying to convince myself of exactly that.

Oondasta

Oondasta, the world boss

I, and circa a hundred other players, were fighting Oondasta yesterday. I was not in a raid and took care of my own healing the best I could, it’s still a wipe fest really, healing or not. But he finally went down and I got my loot – “A Shiny Pile of Refuse”. Unexpectedly, it contained a white kitten carrier and since I already had a white kitten, I thought I’d just sell it on the auction house.

UNTIL Noelani pointed out the tragedy of finding a small kitten in a huge pile of dinosaur poo AND then choosing to just sell it. If that is not cruel, then I don’t know what is!

… You know, I actually do.

It’s even more cruel to force this little pooey “white” kitten into pet battles, where I can choose to force it to fight for me. It may even die because of my evil blood sport hobby of pet collecting and battling.

I think Noelani knew this too because he offered to take the kitten and take good care of it, even though he already has one. After I’m done writing this post, I’ll log in and the fate of the kitten will be sealed. I hope no one bought the pooey kitten (maybe for their own sake too).

In relevance, consider the case of the guy below, Huggalon the Heart Watcher.

JJJ

I don’t remember there being a dead pandaren female to the left of Huggalon the Heart Watcher when I took this screenshot … It’s so haunting, I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight.

We ran into him when leveling a couple of alts and we couldn’t decide whether to kill him or not. He isn’t a clear cut case as so many other bosses and elites otherwise are. What to do?

Kill him because:

  • He’s there to be killed, right? (or is he there to force us to have horrible ethical dilemmas ABOUT killing him?)
  • He’s got a mean look on his face, he’s probably evil
  • Look at all the skeletal remains under his huge boots
  • He looks like he might appreciate being put out of his misery
  • He drops a B.B.F. Necklace
It will give a targeted player a buff called "B.F.F"

It will give a targeted player a buff called “Best Friends Forever”, which lasts for a day (instead of, well, forever)

Don’t kill him because:

  • He’s sitting there looking like a lost abandoned child (which is pretty accurate since he is the missing fifth watcher from the Vault of Archavon and Captain Planet reference)
  • His name is Huggalon the Heart Watcher
  • He has a huge bow in his hair
  • He is not hostile, but neutral
  • There is no real gain from killing him, only the necklace, which you then STEAL from him, and that is creepy. Who steals B.F.F. necklaces?

The comments on Wowhead suggest I’m not the only one with this dilemma. People say that all Huggalon ever wanted was a nice big hug and some feel really bad after they killed him. Why are we feeling bad? It’s just a game, there’s no denying that, the only consequence is that he respawns 20 minutes later for someone else to mull over this dilemma.

So, do you think I killed him?

And, would you be able to kill him yourself, and not feel just a little bit guilty about it?

 

“Dailies have destroyded the game.”

So, I hear there’s a lot of dailies?

I’m not yet 90 myself, I’ve been trying to follow this: An Underachiever’s Guide to 90 by Tome of the Ancient, but I keep failing at the one and only step to success:

Yep, that’s it. Stop it, stop it, stop it with the pet battling already. Simple, easy. There’s my guide.

Maybe it also has to do with the fact that I’m having main-character-doubts, I’m like a split personality victim these days – do I want to play the elemental shaman, the shadow priest or the new’ish hunter? So, yeah, I’ve been dabbling around pet battles (okay, more than dabbling, I’ve been ADDICTED), I’ve also been playing my new gnome monk, and I’ve been leveling the shaman and the hunter. I really need to gain some focus!

When you go to see the Master Pet Tamer Zoltan (the smug blood elf in Felwood), don’t look his kneeling cultists straight in the eye – or maybe don’t look at them at all…

Anyways, back to the dailies! – There’s a lot of them! – Some people are unhappy! – So unhappy that a thread has become a hot topic on the forums, of course sporting an overly dramatic, punctuated and misspelled title, as we WoW players do it best!: “Dailies have destroyded the game.” I love it already!

The argumentation goes back and forth, there’s not exactly consensus, although the OP has been rated highly, but I think the discussion raises a few relevant topics.

  • The line between work and play can be very blurry

Old time classic game theorist Roger Caillois included in his definition of play, that it had to be free and nonobligatory. The less we want to do the dailies, the more they feel like work to us, which makes us question why we even bother in the first place. It’s my impression that in the thread, this has been wrapped up as lazy players vs. Protestant work ethic players. I don’t see it as a matter of being lazy or not, but of play gradually feeling and looking like work to a lot of people.

  • Dailies are in a way revealing the fact that the vast majority of activities in MMO’s are repetitious tasks consisting of simple click commands

Kill X mob Y number of times – Kill X mob to collect Y number of BWAINS! – Collect Y number of poops – Join Z instance and continuously press your AoE button. Of course, then, some clever guy realized that instead of coming up with new X, Y, Z’s they could just have us do the SAME stuff every day.

  • Power gamers/achievers and the pressure of optimization

If you care about progression, doing dailies will be even less voluntary, especially if members of your raid team are all grinding away. I’m not an achiever player-type, and even I feel a stint of that pressure. It’s more comfortable, in many ways, to stick to the large bulk of the wave, as it sweeps over the new content. Soon the learning phase is over and knowledge is expected a priori – that’s mostly what has me feeling stressed.

  • Are there ethical responsibilities in relation to designing games?

If we acknowledge that there is a pressure to optimize and touch that first row ceiling, does the designer have a responsibility to not ask too much of the player? Are players able to keep their heads cool under all the peer pressure? Do we trust players to be autonomous enough to manage and prioritize their own play time and activities under all circumstances?

How we lean on these subjects are influenced by what kind of player we are. I’ll usually fall in favour of an upper limit, like there used to be – 25/day, where as now it’s unlimited. But that’s probably also because I’m not very tolerant of long grinds, extremely low drop rates and camping spawns. I’d prefer they had kept the old 25/day limit in, which instead would have forced players to prioritize what factions they wanted exalted with first.