Is it okay to torture prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?
Is it okay to torture an emotionless animated character in The Torture Game?
Is it okay to carry out a World of Warcraft quest that requires the player to torture a prisoner?
boingboing reports on the controversy generated by one Richard Bartle, himself the inventor of the MUD genre. It seems that Bartle recently came across a mission in WoW's Wrath of the Lich King expansion that gave him pause:
Basically, you have to take some kind of cow poke and zap a prisoner until he talks.
I'm not at all happy with this. I was expecting for there to be some way to tell the guy who gave you the quest that no, actually I don't want to torture a prisoner, but there didn't seem to be any way to do that. Worse, the quest is part of a chain you need to complete to gain access to the Nexus, which is the first instance you encounter (if you start on the west of the continent, as I did). So, either you play along and zap the guy, or you don't get to go to the Nexus.
I did zap him, pretty well in disbelief — I thought that surely the quest-giver would step in and stop it at some point? It didn't happen, though. Unless there's some kind of awful consequence further down the line, it would seem that Blizzard's designers are OK with breaking the Geneva convention.
It is fortunate you're here, <race>.
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 [torture device] useful....