Tag Archives: torture

wow torture quest

So… wow. Bartle‘s been getting a lot of press and/or flak for his stance against a quest in WoW that the creators coyly titled “The Art of Persuasion”. Basically, the quest NPC is too impatient to interrogate a prisoner but doesn’t want to dirty his hands with torture – it is against his organization’s rules of operation – so he gives you a cattle prod to fry him with a few times while he looks the other way (all of 3 feet away).

The fact that the quest exists isn’t wrong. The fact that you don’t really have much of a choice in the matter is. You can’t tell the quest-giver “no”. You either have to torture the prisoner or you have to bypass the remainder of the quest chain (which is fairly important if you want anything to do with the Kirin Tor mages).

I did the quest once – on my warlock, the character whose job it is to be a little dynamo of concentrated evil – and I remember standing there for 5 minutes debating before I finally decided to actually zap the guy. I’m not planning on doing the quest chain again on any other characters. Normally, my criteria for adding a quest to my blacklist is that it is boring or a terrible waste of time vs the reward. This is the first quest I’ve ever had to swear off on moral grounds.

So why has this particular quest been singled out? Why wait until now? By every definition in the book, we (players of WoW and numerous other MMORPG’s) have clearly been engaged in innumerable unsavory activities – including torture – for years now.

This is hardly the first time a quest in WoW expects you to use violence to extract information. There are quite a few quests that expect you to beat on people until they talk. There are several quests that ask you to kill couriers for information they are carrying. There are quests where you poison people and quests where you perform horrible experiments on people and quests where you don’t actually have to beat on the source of the information, you just have to prove that you’re willing to do so. It is, after all, a game whose fundamental action is killing.

We play a game where we are asked to role-play as soulless mercenaries who’ll kill anyone/anything for a few bucks – or more likely a shirt that we’re just going to turn around and pawn because it breaks our set bonus. We’ll dig through pig droppings and harvest organs and collect on debts owed to thieves and steal apples if we accept every job offer that comes our way.

The circumstances behind this particular quest, however, are much more obvious. This particular quest NPC says:

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.

He then hands you a “Neural Needler”, which “Inflicts incredible pain to target, but does no permanent damage.” You then have to walk 3 feet to a man chained into a chair and use the needler on him five times. The ‘conversation’ goes something like this:

  1. Pathetic fool! A servant of Malygos would sooner die than aid an emeny…
  2. Aargh! Do your worst, {class}! I’ll tell you NOTHING!
  3. Aahhhh! Release me! I am of no use to you. I swear it!
  4. Stop! I beg you, pleae stop. Please….
  5. Alright! I am beaten. {information you wanted goes here} Your mission is folly!

But you can keep zapping him a few times before turning in the quest…

  1. I’ve given you the information, {race}! You’re wasting your time….
  2. Noooo! This tortue is inhumane! You have what you want… why don’t you just kill me?

Even “better”… you can apparently get a fresh needler (I have not confirmed this) and continue frying the guy, just for fun…

  1. What more can you possibly want, {race}?
  2. Stop! Please…
  3. How can you possibly bring me lower?
  4. What more can you take away from me?
  5. You aren’t even asking me questions…
  6. Are you trying to meet the real me?
  7. You’ve got a darkness in you, {race}.

So, whether this is some kind of weird statement on current events or not, several people at Blizzard apparently think that torture can be useful and want to spread that opinion to their audience of millions. I mean, c’mon, it’s not like children play this game, right? …

Regardless of why the quest was written, why it was included in the game, and why it’s standing out above all of the other heinous things players have been asked to do in the game… it was a mistake and needs to be revised to avoid railroading players into a choice between being evil sadists and quitting the game. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves.