WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

December 9, 2008 -

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.

GP: Kotaku reports that the quest at issue is The Art of Persuasion. The in-game instructions for the quest are as follows:

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....


Comments

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

He's the one that brought up the Geneva Convention, which was a BAN on the use of torture.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

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Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

It was a comment tacked on to the end, it's either a jok, a little swipe at Blizzard or firmly tongue in cheek. there's really no reason to take it so literally.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

Nevertheless.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

I agree with you, hardly controversy, but apparently this guy started the controversy so of course people will ridicule him :P Mainly cause we're bored at work and not at home playing WoW.

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Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

PC nazis rule wanting fair rights for fictional charatcer..... and here I thought the "right" was where the thought police would come from....
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Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

You do not need to complete this quest to enter the Nexus.  You can get off the boat at the Borean Tundra, ride to the flight master near that quest giver, and fly directly there, never once talking to ANY quest givers.

Also, the achievement for completing the Borean Tundra, "Nothing Boring About Borean," can be completed without this 'torture' quest.

So, why is this an issue?  It's fiction, people.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

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Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

Something I always say when I hear the bitching about this quest. This is a war environment and it often requires doing things that you are not proud of. You need info fast and he isn't talking  simply by asking him. Heck, this is probably the one time in the game where you have to extract the info and the target lives.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

you know, you DONT have to accept the quest, you can decline it, thats how you choose not to torture the prisoner. Apparently torture is worse than the slaughter of all kinds of humaniods and wildlife. Like the D.H.E.T.A. quest line where you kill trappers just cause they are killing animals...   lol   hey i got an idea, how about you uninstall WARcraft....

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Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

Man up, Nancy.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

Yeah, suck it up.

-- Olly

-- Olly

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

What's this guy confused about?  If you don't want to torture the guy then you don't get the information.  Then the quest is over.  You fail and evil wins.  If you want the info in time to save the Lady you have to poke that guy.  Would he feel ok if you passed on the torturing and later have to fight the undead version of the Lady after she herself had been tortured, killed, and returned as an undead horror. 

Actually there are several instances of torture in the game.  One where you participate in an exorcism that gets rather brutal seeing as the holy powers of the interregator cause physical pain to the undead wretch your questioning.  Also as a DeathKnight you are charged with running around torturing many random people with hot pokers till someone, instead of dying with honor, tries to live by giving up the information your looking for.  Of course even if he gives it up you kill him anyway.  You are a Death Knight after all.

There is a choice in all of this.  I don't know if he's upset if you have to make the choice at all, or if only one side of the choice has an effect on the story.  If you don't torture the guy then its all over and you never have to hear about the outcome.  It seems that the current condition is tamer then the reality that this guy wants. 

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

If he wants to bitch about torture in a game, maybe he should be moaning about The Punisher game instead.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

The geneva Convention doesn't exsist in the world of warcraft.

This is a medieval times, with magic, and the undead you know.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

This is a medieval times, with magic, and the undead you know.

And steam power.  And nuclear reactors.  And spaceships full of blue-skinned goat men.

Yeah, I don't know where I'm going with this, it's just my standard response whenever somebody uses the word 'medieval' in reference to Warcraft.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

The geneva Convention doesn't exsist in the world of warcraft.

Quoted for win

岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

So... he finds issue with this, but not the slaughtering of 100s 1,000s or 10,000s of mobs during questing?

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

whats next PETA hating RPGs and MMOs because of animal killing.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

In WoW, in Borean Tundra, you encounter a group called "D.E.H.T.A." (Druids for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Animals.) If you kill any animal in that zone, even a wolf that attacks you, you get a short debuff that causes that group to try and kill you on sight.

There's a whole series of quests you can do for them. It's a pretty funny parody of PETA, and also of certain questlines in WoW. (The Nessingwary hunting related quests.) What I loved was doing quests for them along with other quests that had me killing animals. Nothing like encountering a group of 4 baby mammoths, one caught in a trap. Rescue the trapped mammoth for DEHTA, then kill the 3 others to take their hides for the gnomes.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

So by his logic blizzard supports genocide because there were only rewards for me when i killed all those quillboar.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

The Geneva Convention doesn't cover pixellated animated characters in a game.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

No doubt. WTF does the GC have to do with video game action?

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Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

Yeah... I think this guy climbed the stupid tree, and got hit by every branch on the fall down.

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Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

Don't confuse stupid and strong emotional response.

He is usually a pretty cool dude.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

^what he said^

I don't know enough about this guy to say much about him normally.  Maybe he just climbed the stupid tree recently, and maybe it will wear off.

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Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
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Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

This isn't a strong emotional response. This is akin to hating Uma Thurman because she starred in a movie where she assassinated a former-assassin-turned-mother in front of her own kid= i.e., ridiculous whining over something FAKE. 

This is fiction. You're supposed to enjoy it, or roll your eyes and move on, not accuse people of breaking some contractual agreement, and even less-so since it's not even real people (or races, for that matter.)

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

With a movie you got a choice to watch it or not. If you are not allowed to enter an entire area of the game if you're not willing to perform torture, that's not really a fair choice.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

Regardless of what the mechanics are - you don't have to play WoW at all, anymore than you have to Watch a movie. You could, in WoW, just like in a Movie, skip the parts you find objectionable. Actually, it's more of an option in WoW, than in many movies. I'm sure you could still play the game quite effectively skipping this part.

Try to watch SAW and skip past the torture parts. Good Luck.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

It's pretty easy to bypass this quest, true - the rewards for the chain aren't that great, and you can skip them and still get the quest achievement for Borean Tundra.

To play devil's advocate, though, there is a torture quest you can't skip. At least, if you're playing a Death Knight. In that one, if you push too hard, you actually risk killing the victim before they give you the information you need. That one's part of a chain that all Death Knights have to finish before they can enter the main game world.

For the sake of completeness, WoW's pretty full of torture and torture like stuff. Plenty of quests going way back to the human and undead lowbie areas involve doing all sorts of horrible things to prisoners - Northrend's stepped it up a notch. Trying to cure the plague infecting one, you're told to administer a potion to him that instead liquifies him and makes several of the prison gaurds throw up. In Dragonblight, you watch as a priest tortures an undead prisoner by reciting prayers and casting healing spells on him. Then there's a few executions, and the wholesale slaughter of the prisoners in the Stormwind prison.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

To play devil's advocate, though, there is a torture quest you can't skip. At least, if you're playing a Death Knight. In that one, if you push too hard, you actually risk killing the victim before they give you the information you need. That one's part of a chain that all Death Knights have to finish before they can enter the main game world.

 

Then don't play as a Death Knight.  Why in the world choose a such a dark character, then be a pussy about quests that the motherfuckers would go on? 

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

Calm down Bill... if you learn to read he didn't actually say he was complaining about being a deathknight He was simply stating information.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

I don't give a shit if he was complaining about it or not, the "Devil's Advocate" scenario he suggested is what I was responding to.  It's a method of defending those who complain about portions of the game that cannot be bypassed without torture. 

Yes they have a point that they can't play as a bad ass evil motherfucker because the game forces them to be mean and torture somebody.  I simply am pointing out that that's a stupid fucking thing to bitch about.

  But I assume since you are such a strong advocate of reading, you already read and comprehended that that was the obvious point, and you just wanted me to further explain myself because you are a dick.

Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

We've already established that it actually does NOT affect entry into the Nexus instance.

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Re: WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

And if you had bothered to read further into the discussion you would see you can still access the area, you're not locked out for not doing the quest.

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I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

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