The Tao of WoW

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.

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6 Responses to “The Tao of WoW”

  1. Jarenth says:

    Interesting. It’s the kind of thing I would probably get bored of way too soon, but I wish you all the best.

    How are you planning to pull this off? Gathering? Archaeology? Cherry-picking non-murder-related quests?

    • Leslee says:

      You can level a character either by mining/gathering exclusively, or by also doing nonviolent quests when available. Fishing is a matter of personal choice.

  2. Jymm says:

    I was also a member of the Peace Corp guild, my character was Melelilei level 44 night elf druid.

    There’s a level of tension involved while traveling, always being on the look out for guards and other “helpful” players that would come to your rescue. Planning ways to get to nodes and trying to use stuns and such to handle multiple mobs. When things failed at times I’d just stand there and die rather than run. I jumped off quite a few cliffs to avoid someones help. Also with all the experience coming from gathering and exploration (some from safe quests if you weren’t doing no quests) you need to travel far and wide.

    I was in all four guilds, both normal no kills Alliance and Horde also both test guilds designed to see if certain quests were truly no kill. I had quite a bit of fun as a a Night elf and Blood elf trying to get to the Dwarven Air Field it was quite a jumping challenge.

  3. Soylent Dave says:

    Reminds me of the zero kills challenge people set themselves in the original Deus Ex – although that was slightly easier up to a point, as the game has non-lethal weaponry.

    (I’m sure some people set themselves a ‘no weapons at all’ objective, too – Deus Ex was notoriously open to a variety of playstyles, apart from one or two bits of the game you had to exploit your way around…)

    • Jymm says:

      My Druid was armed with flowers and a basket from last years Noble Garden event. My rogue needed a weapon to sap with, as i recall i used a frying pan.

  4. Mintskittle says:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PacifistRun

    The page title is a bit misleading, as most of the games listed do not allow for true pacifist runs, but can be done with a minimum of violence.

    OT: Pacifism in games should be a valid choice for gamers who choose to play that way. Gaming is about having fun, and if pacifism is a valid play style, and it makes you happy, then you are doing it right.

    Since it’s related, I’m currently playing EVE Online, and in it, you can mine ore, manufacture goods, and play the commodities market to earn ingame money, and you can do it without killing anyone.

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