Archive for May, 2012

The Tao of WoW

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Aerobic exercise if overrated.

A few months ago a gaming community kerfuffle occurred when someone Photoshopped a picture of Bioware writer Jennifer Hepler with text from an interview she had given 5 years ago, in which she stated that she wished games had a fast-forward button to allow players, such as herself, to skip combat entirely in favor of dialogue, story, or other gameplay elements. An internet firestorm ensued, as gamers raged in righteous indignation. Skip combat? How dare she suggest something so blasphemous! “Burn the witch!” they declared! If you’re curious (or feeling masochistic) you can read more about this controversy here.

Once upon a time, a fellow employee at a game studio where I worked arrogantly declared that I must have less gaming experience than him because of the questions I was asking regarding skill stats. Never mind the fact that I was at least 10 years older than him and had been playing video games before he was born. My lack of knowledge regarding this particular aspect of gaming made it obvious to him that I was an inexperienced n00b. The implication seems to be that if you’re not interested in combat, you’re not really a gamer.

But challenging yourself by playing a game in a way that wasn’t intended, by subverting the rules in new and interesting ways, is the very essence of a “gamer mentality”, and is something that has intrigued me since I was old enough to play “Operation” with my toes. (I don’t recommend it.) So when I read about Everbloom’s zero kills achievement in World of Warcraft, I had to try it for myself.

Since joining the Peace Corp guild I have re-rolled my conscientious-objecting rogue three times. Who knew it was so hard to not kill something? The goal is to reach level 85 with zero creature kills and zero total kills. At the beginning levels, this is far more difficult than you might imagine. My first rogue was decommissioned when a helpful(?) worgen decided to kill a mob that I had temporarily stunned in self-defense. Once tagged, the kill is attributed to you, regardless of who does the actual killing. My second rogue was put out to pasture when I accidentally clicked on a critter to do a /love command and instead beat the poor creature to death with my fists from 6′ away! Who knew my arms were that long?

I realize that playing World of Warcraft in this manner is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It requires a degree of patience, skill and desire for exploration that many may find frustrating and/or boring. (You will spend a great deal of time getting more than your daily requirement of aerobic exercise and will become intimately familiar with the local cemetery.) But I think it serves as an example of how various forms of gameplay are equally valid. Wanting to skip combat doesn’t make you any less of a gamer. It just makes you a different kind of gamer.