SYTYCB: WoW is Not a Zero Sum Game

SYTYCB: WoW is Not a Zero Sum Game

This is a SYTYCB submission from Veleda, one of the top 7 finalists.

veleda-post How broken do you have to be to think that stealing from other people is okay if it’s done through a cartoon interface?!

I have a number of alts scattered across various realms, mostly to socialize with friends that have their main characters there. In some cases, my alts belong to guilds along with those friends, so I see a bit of a number of guilds from the inside.; Recently, one had it’s bank robbed of what to them is a significant amount of material. Unlike the usual situation where the thief vanishes into the shadows, knowing that they’re scum and trying to keep from being identified, the perp in this situation made no attempt to cover his tracks, and even seemed boastful of his misdeeds.

Many of you are familiar, by now, with the scam that involves asking an officer to invite and promote a character that claims to be an alt of another high ranking character in the guild. If successful, this person has stolen the identity of the person in question, and can use that person’s status to withdraw items and gold from the guild bank. This guild had been hit by such a thief a few weeks ago, and had just mostly recovered from that incident when this newest theft occurred.

One way to prevent such a situation is by having the person make the request from his character that’s already in the guild. Assuming an account that hasn’t been hacked (if the account has been hacked, there’s no need to do this identity theft routine), then the person trying to gain access can’t log onto the character they claim to be. Having been burned once, recently, the officers were wary, and asked for just such confirmation this time. Initial contact had come from a character claiming to be an alt of, say, Tinman (not the character’s real name). The officer asked for contact directly from Tinman, and soon afterward received a whisper from Tïnman saying he wanted his alt – the thief – in the guild. Did you notice the change in spelling with the accented I? Neither did the officer. While we can, in hindsight, think of more ways that this could have been avoided, we have a situation where a volunteer officer working in good faith made an effort to help someone he thought was a guildmate, while trying to be cautious.

The thief was invited and promoted on the belief that he was Tinman, and promptly withdrew the maximum amount of high value items and gold that he could, before quitting the guild. While this is a significant and demoralizing loss to this guild, there wouldn’t be a rant here if this was the end of the story. Unlike the gold farmers and other thieves, this character didn’t just vanish into the shadows. They’re still on the server. They were, in fact, seen to be in another guild. Reportedly, when the GM of the guild that was robbed contacted the GM of the new guild to warn them, he was laughed at. It seems this character is a long-time member of that guild, and periodically goes to steal from another guild. They all think this is great fun, and part of the game. Excuse me?! Just how broken do you have to be to not realize that’s wrong?

One complaint against video games is that they glorify violence or other anti-social behaviour, and thus might encourage more of that in real life. I think this has mostly been shown to be poppycock, as most people are quite able to distinguish between actions in a game and actions in real life. They simply don’t bring game appropriate anti-social behavior into real life, for the most part. World of Warcraft isn’t a zero sum game, at least with respect to other players. Yes, we sometimes kill and steal from NPCs. We even go against other players in PvP situations, but those are voluntary and even the loosing side gains honour or arena points from the encounter. Our advancement in the game never requires that we penalize other players for their participation.

So when players steal from other players, they’re no longer operating within the bounds of the game, even if it looks like cartoons. I would hope these people don’t think it’s okay to walk down the street in real life and lift someone’s wallet. How, then, can they think this is okay? How can they brag about it?