Queasiness in Northrend

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I have a problem that is affecting my game play in Northrend.
The problem is what many speak of as the moral “ambiguity” in WotLK especially as it pertains to quests that require torture or mistreating prisoners to complete. Ambiguity is in quotes on purpose because I don’t see any ambiguity — these actions are wrong. Here’s what bothers me.

This country is wrestling with its current history as having committed acts specifically forbidden in the Geneva Convention to which we are a signatory. We are viewed by many as harboring war criminals. We sacrificed principle for expedience. And this is precisely the same idea in the first torture quest I ultimately abandoned.  See below…

The Art of Persuasion
Librarian Normantis on Amber Ledge wants you to use the Neural Needler on the Imprisoned Beryl Sorcerer until he reveals the location of Lady Evanor.

Quest Text:
“You see, the Kirin Tor code of conduct frowns upon our taking certain ‘extreme’ measures – even in desperate times such as these.
You, however, as an outsider, are not bound by such restrictions and could take any steps necessary in the retrieval of information.
Do what you must. We need to know where Lady Evanor is being held at once!
I’ll just busy myself organizing these shelves here. Oh, and here, perhaps you’ll find this old thing useful….”

These quests are disturbing and I, for one, have abandoned them.  This affects my game play because now, not only must I figure out the quest but I also need to evaluate whether I have to do something I consider morally impermissible in real-life to complete the quest.   So, I will continue to play in Northrend although I am more leery of the quests and spend more time on wowhead researching an entire questline before starting it.

In the interests of full disclosure, I am a history major who spent upwards of two years studying World War II from a number of perspectives.  One of the most influential books I read during that time was “Ordinary Men” by Christopher Browning.  I am also a former Marine and have experienced the kind of peer pressure / group think that can be found in a military organization.

I don’t expect people to abandon these quests or do the same thing I am doing but I do wish to at least raise the awareness that torture is a nasty topic.   I guess what I really want is a path through quest lines that allow me to keep true to myself.  Let those that choose to torture get more XP or complete it faster but let there also be an option for an interrogation technique that may take longer or may fail but does not require me to torture.  Sort of like trying to skill up when the recipe is green.

Sorry for such a bleak topic but it’s been sitting in my craw for over a month now and I just needed to share.