Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bots, Goldfarmers, and WoW. Oh my!

Here's a recent New York Times article about strange behavior in relation to the game World of Warcraft.

"Should people have the right to cheat? More than 100,000 folks seem to think so. That is how many copies have been sold of a computer program called Glider, which essentially plays the game World of Warcraft for you. While you sleep, eat, go to work, attend class or do whatever else, Glider controls your WOW character — killing monsters, casting spells, collecting treasure and accumulating the experience points required to advance and become more powerful ... But should creating and selling a program like Glider be illegal?"

This article interests me primarily in relation to ethics, though human behavior and philosophy of technology certainly come into play as well. Here we have certain gamers buying programs such as Glider, using "bots" to automatically increase player skill, or even going so far as to hire "goldfarmers" -- hiring cheap labor, usually overseas, to play the game for you in order to boost your character skill levels and such. How surreal.

1 comment:

Jeff LaSala said...

It certainly is. My only knowledge of WoW comes from a friend of mine, who leads a guild (a large organized group of players) within the game. Although I'm a big fan of fantasy, to me WoW doesn't appeal to that interest because it's not immersive enough; it's more about acquiring in-game experience points and in-game gold than about adventure or a good story.

But from what I hear, programs like the one you're talking about certainly would appeal to the players more interested in the aforementioned goals than anything else. It's about being the best: the wealthiest, most powerful character. About being the best. How eerily similar to the subject of Book 3, Chapter 8 of Mere Christianity. Not only are programs like this available, but I've heard that WoW characters are often auctioned up on Ebay.

Yikes, huh?

Although I'm largely ignorant of WoW's particulars, I have actually submitted to one MMOG (massively multiplayer online game), and that is LOTRO, Lord of the Rings Online, chiefly out of interest in the subject matter and its impressive portrayal of Tolkien's world. Now, it's still a game and there ARE numbers to churn through. But I've found the spirit of the game and its players to be a bit more amiable, and less competitive, than WoW's.