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Ethics of Open PvP

Editorial By Dave Bonnewell on November 11, 2006

Debate: The Ethics of Open PvP

Dave Bonnewell and Dan Fortier debate

Editor's Introduction: Every Saturday, we feature a debate between two writers here. If you have any ideas for future debates, please do not hesitate to post them in the comment thread linked at the end.
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Dave Bonnewell: In the words of the late great writer/philosopher George Santayana, Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. It is with this very reasoning in mind that we wish to revisit an event which sent shock waves throughout the online gaming community. It was six months ago in World of Warcraft's PvP Winterspring server that an in game virtual funeral being held for the real life death of a young WoW fan. This serene memorial was interrupted by a mass ganking of all 50 or so attendees by a less than serene 20 player Alliance guild calling them selves 'Serenity Now'.

Ok, it's been six months. The jokes, the hotheadedness and the sarcasm have died down. Let's take a little time to look back at this event seriously and discuss the resulting fallout. Was this event a wake up call to the need for open PvP or was it a rude awaking for an otherwise peaceful moment of mourning? I'd like to get this debate started by saying that this tragic occurrence was completely uncalled for and shows just how low some inconsiderate a holes are willing to go to get a few easy kills under their belts. To be rewarded PvP honor points for committing such a brutal and depraved act is simply appalling.


Dan Fortier: While we are taking a trip down memory lane let's revisit the other important facts in this case. First off they decided to hold a funeral in a PvP server and they were surprised someone attacked them? Even in the real world militants whose real life is jeopardy will defy convention to attack during so called 'time outs' so why is anyone shocked that a group of gamers who have nothing to lose would do the same given the opportunity?

Secondly, when the guild told everyone they did it to encourage PvP on the server not to dishonor the memory of the dead gamer. What better way to fire people up then a mass slaughter at a serious event? I bet now they are quite pleased with the results even if it means being public enemy number one.


Dave Bonnewell: It is, of course, true that to be attacked on a PvP server should come as no surprise. However, in this case it was not just someone, but rather an entire guild who carried out a premeditated and unprovoked slaughter. As far as Serenity Now having nothing to lose is concerned, how about self respect, dignity and honor? I'd say they lost plenty the moment they collectively drew their weapons and readied their spells.

If it's more PvP that Serenity Now wanted, I'd say they got much more than they bargained for as they had succeeded only in making themselves a tasty target. The same holds true of any other guild who might dare try a similar stunt. And although Serenity Now claimed they were sorry about the girl's death, they were clearly not so sorry as to respect the good natured players who wanted merely to genuinely and solemnly honor her death.


Dan Fortier: I think it's really a matter of taking advantage of the situation. They saw a perfect opportunity to do something so infamous that the Alliance would have no choice but to call for their heads. You can't really apply morals to games in the same way as life. Most folks, including myself, want to play a game that exists outside of the ordered, safe and structured life we lead and have fun being traders, thieves and murderers. That's what makes a game a game. Why pay to play a game where you have to be nice to everyone?

Now I don't want to give them too much credit for a brilliant scheme when the motivation was most likely just an opportunity to be hated. It may be considered callous to some, but if anything has been proven by online games, it's the fact that there is always someone who's willing to do anything possible for attention and being despised is better than being ignored for some folks.


Dave Bonnewell: Role playing is at the heart of any MMO, even the action oriented ones. Yet, many find and will continue to find acting out real life rituals such as weddings and funerals in a MMO environment to be strange and even unhealthy behavior. Still, such events are far from uncommon and the advent of online gaming has become their innate outlet. The MMORPG is a powerfully visual median. Where else can so many from so far come together to participate in spectacularly emotional events (for instance, a funeral or a ganking of everyone at said funeral) in as much time as it takes a loading screen to finish? Just bear in mind that the memory of our actions will always outlive the motivation behind them.

When we log onto a MMOG for the first time, there is always an avatar of some kind with a blank slate and a story yet to be told. We, as players, through our virtual actions and real personalities, fill in the blanks and write the stories of our online personifications for all to read. It is reasonable to argue that individuals in a guild are role playing to the fullest extent by acting on valuable intel regarding the location of a vulnerable target. It is, however, just as reasonable to expect a peaceful gathering of mourners to remain undisturbed for a time. It's all in how the situation is viewed.

Speaking of which, we want to know your views on this topic, so head on over to our forums and be heard.

Dave Bonnewell / Dave Bonnewell Editor - http://rpgwatch.com

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