Do No Harm

[Lan note: A guest post from S.]

Anar’alah belore. My name is Lyraea, and I’m a pacifist priest.

Do no harm.

My Player is fairly new to WoW (she’s only played for about a year and a half), and despite her noobness, she got very bored with the game after capping her Blood Elf beast mastery hunter and was looking for a new way to play. That’s where I came in.

My Player attended a 2010 conference in Montreal around the sociality of play, where one scholar mentioned a guild that (unsuccessfully, if I recall) attempted to level pacifist toons. After creating me, she took pause – what did it mean, exactly, to be a pacifist in a world where violence is the principle means of advancing?

In reality, it’s not very exciting. It’s actually pretty excruciating for the first 7 levels or so. Run-die-run-die-run-die-run. At level 7, having proven my worthiness to learn Power Word Shield, it became easier. Run-Shield-run-Shield-run-Shield. Through some pacifists will deal damage in self-defense and complete “good-cause quests” for experience, I decided to embark on this endeavor as a purist: do no harm. That equates to a lot of mining and flower-picking to earn experience, and the occasional courier and collection quest when it becomes available. The tedium is probably why My Player has left me at the end of her toon list, having only made it so far to level 9. I’ve died 16 times in my short life (My Player kept a journal and screenshots … you know, for “science” … kinda morbid if you ask me). I guess the nice Belf finishes last.

What My Player found most interesting was how it felt to develop a system of rules based on a virtual moral commitment. To have no accountability other than to oneself requires an immense amount of discipline, especially in the face of guildies goading me for being a sissy. It meant that she and I had to get used to dying, as it was as much a part of play as living. It was a matter of selectively engaging certain game mechanisms as part of the challenge – appropriating the affordances (e.g., experience from mining and herbing) and tolerating the constraints (the sparseness of non-violent quests). There must be some sort of religious parallel here – self-sacrifice for the ideological cause.

Of course, I’m not getting as much screen time as my big sister, My Player’s hunter, I think that somehow I’m still the bigger Elf. I’m sticking to my guns … er, to my … Power Word Shield … and doing no harm.


2 responses to “Do No Harm

  1. An alternative version could be playing a Druid as a real animal, stuck permanently in an animal form, not being allowed to speak at all or do anything that would shift the Druid out of it’s form… I guess one would not be allowed to die either;

  2. Pingback: A little WoW thinking | WoW and Other Musings

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