I submit to you the following question:
“Is your WoW character a violent person?”
Ostensibly, the answer would have to be yes, given that probably about 90% of what your character does involves fighting. And yet, I'm not exactly sure that needs to be the case. Is someone a “violent” character if they routinely use violence to accomplish goals that can
be accomplished through violent means?
Obviously, 99% of the quests in WoW can only be accomplished through violent means, but does it make a character “violent” to routinely volunteer for these quests? I'm not so sure. Being “violent” has a very negative connotation, but few people would argue against the use of force to, say, protect a small settlement from being raided by bandits—which is virtually all you do in
, among other locations.
Likewise, if someone got attacked by a bear, it's hard to criticize them if they use lethal force in defending themselves. Imagine, however, if somebody said to them, “Don't go there, son, that's bear country,” and they said, “It's chill, I've got my handy assault rifle,” and then went out and shot, like, 40 bears because they "attacked him". It's hard not to question their motives.
Now, replace “bear” with “bandit”. It's no surprise that the morality of the situation shifts significantly when you're dealing with sentient creatures, fault and responsibility aren't concepts that can be easily applied to a bear. But if you go into “bandit territory”, and get attacked by bandits, fault clearly lies with the bandits, right? Well, if you
that bandits are going to attack you when they see you, and you
that this area is bandit country, is it still the bandit's fault for attacking you? It's... unclear at best.
And yet, for virtually all games, the answer is a resounding no. In fact, it's usually acceptable to attack someone first, as long as they
attack you if they could see you. In
, you can play an absolute
of morality, that still abides by the hard and fast rule “If my targeting reticule is red, I kill the thing it's pointing at.”
This is one of the things that I find the most promising about Wrath of the Lich King. Things began moving in this direction with The Burning Crusade, but everything I've seen so far suggests that WoW is trying very hard to sidestep this kind of “Hero Morality” that virtually all games fall victim to at one point or another. By trimming the number of various antagonistic factions and filler quests, not only do you get a more unified narrative (“No, guys, really, we gotta stop Arthas”), but you get heroes who are, well, actually
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