The more I play World of Warcraft, the more that I begin to believe that all people are basically good people, but that they are nicer in this game than they are in real life. The game is played by adults, teenagers, and children and yet, the ethics of the people while they are in the game world are usually of a desirable quality.
Examples of this are people who sell their skills in the large cities such as Ironforge or Stormwind. Sometimes they will throw in a free bonus item to those who purchase their skills, such as lockpicking for the various lockboxes that can be picked up while on your adventures. Lockpicking can only be done by rogues or by keys made by blacksmiths of the appropriate level and so the skill can be quite profitable were you to sell it to other players. Some, however, choose to give this service for free. For free! You would scarcely see such a thing in real life today. On the opposite side is the customer, who generally will, if they have the money, give a tip to someone who offers their skill for free. Sometimes the tip is outlandish and well appreciated by the seller. Some who don’t play the game would say that the reason for giving these “skills” away is that it takes no real effort on the gamer’s part to click that button that says “create”… or does it? What these people do not understand is that it takes time and many gaming hours (or sometimes just many gold pieces) to be able to create certain things. So, to say that it does not really take any effort to click that “create” button or that “pick lock” button is simply untrue in many cases.
Speaking of effort, how much does it take to give someone something that you are not using? I’ve had a number of mages come up to me just out of the blue and say “want some food?” Of course, my answer is usually “yes, please”. They conjure the food and just give it to me. Or if it’s another non-mage player who just has some extra food in their backpack, they’ll just give that away, too, especially if you’re in a group with them and they know you need it. Sometimes classes who use mana or magic power will have another class who does not come to them and give them water of all levels (which restores mana) for no charge at all. These people could very easily take these things to a non-player vendor or to the auction house and just sell them. I give such things away on a regular basis instead of selling them and even I have yet to figure out why.
Guilds are another noteworthy subject, because they are full of people who enjoy helping others. Most guilds exist simply to help other players. Some join guilds just to reap the benefits of being in a guild, such as the pooling of resources, help with quests, leveling, and etcetera, but many others are there simply to help out. Many high level players will run a lower level through a dungeon for free, even if payment is offered. Sometimes these “run-throughs” can take as little as 20 minutes or as long as an hour. Why not accept the payment?
Even players of the opposing faction have been known to help their “enemies” out at times. Players of the Alliance cannot communicate, trade with, or heal members of the Horde and yet, they continue to assist each other in other ways. A Horde member has saved my gnome rogue’s bacon more times than I can count, simply by pulling whatever I’m fighting off of me so I can get away or killing it before it kills me. These people who are supposed to be my enemy have less of a reason than anyone else to help me, but they do it anyway. If they try to help you and your character dies, anyway, many times they will express regret via the emote system.
You can still get taken for a ride in the game just as easily as you can in the real world, though. Very often on the general chat channel you’ll hear that a certain person is a “ninja” and not to group with him. These people are those who join a group and see a treasure chest, and instead of performing a “roll” which gives every player who does it a number between 1 and 100 (with the highest number “winning” the rights to the chest), he snatches the contents of it and leaves the group. This doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen, and the denizens of World of Warcraft consider it the same thing as thievery and will do whatever they can to keep such a person from gaining a good reputation.
Parents are concerned that their teenagers and younger children are picking up bad habits or beliefs playing World of Warcraft, but when it comes to ethics such as this, I disagree. The act of being selfless and learning to take the time and effort to help another person achieve a goal or to make their quality of life (even if it’s only game life) better is something that people in our real world seem to be forgetting in this day and age. Maybe we all need to take a lesson from the people who play this game or even the people who play the game should notice how they act while they are within it and ask themselves, “why do I behave this way in a game world and not in the real one?”
Maybe it’s time we learn to say to each other in the real world, what vendors and other players say to each other in Azeroth:
“Can I help you?”