February 22, 2009

WoW botter tells all

Daedren (not his former WoW character's name) ruffled more than a few feathers with an internet "confessional" (was it, really?) last week about his experiences botting in World of Warcraft. (To "bot," a term that comes from the word "robot," is to use a third-party program to play the game for you.) He initially declined an interview with 15 Minutes of Fame but was back in touch a few days later, after the comments and reaction began piling on.

With a measured, reasonable approach (somewhat at odds with the abrasive tone he takes with commenters on his blog), Daedren visits with us about wow botting. Is botting a blot on the soul of gaming humanity or a benign, time-saving technique for busy gamers? Read Daedren's post to learn what his botted characters were up to in WoW, then join us after the break to learn why his botting post was actually a farewell "ode to WoW."

When did you first get into botting?
Daedren: I started botting when TBC was released. I heard about Glider through some friends who had mentioned it in passing, so I decided to check it out. It looked good because once Arenas were out, I wanted to play a second character to try different Arena setups with some friends. Gearing out one character is hard enough with a limited play schedule; two is near impossible. I figured I'd check out Glider to see if I could do some of the more tedious and time-consuming things in the game like grinding reputation, honor or gold to buy things like enchants and riding skills.

Why did you bot? What were your goals?
As I mention in my article, it was always just to save time. I've never aspired to be a gold farmer or leveling and selling accounts, though I see how it could be possible. My goals were to stay competitive in the game so I could enjoy PVP and PVE to the full extent -- something very hard to do without sacrificing a lot of time.

You say that botting allowed you to "enjoy the game to its full potential." Didn't you ever feel as if you were missing out on accomplishments by not playing through them yourself?
Well, I hand leveled one character through all aspects of WoW. I don't have an aversion to questing or even a bit of grinding. It just got a bit ridiculous sometimes, especially when we're talking about multiple characters. Playing one character through all the aspects of the game is really enough, in my opinion. I've never felt I've missed anything due to botting. I've seen most end-game raids, been competitive in Arenas -- and most of all, had fun. I would have spent a lot less time actually playing the fun aspects of the game, with good friends, if I had to take time away from that to do the monotonous tasks.

Some players contend that botters cheapen the game's overall experience by making possible things that the game developers did not intend for players to have or do unless they invested considerable time -- time which, as a botter, you had a program do for you rather than spending the time yourself. The idea is that if many people go out and get these "earned" achievements without spending the time to "earn" them, they lose meaning overall for players who legitimately make the effort to achieve them. What would you say to those people?
I think it comes down to a flawed yet necessary mechanic in WoW and MMOs in general. This mechanic is basically "your only limitation is the amount of time you have to play." This is reflected in the original PVP system (Rank 13/14 people know exactly what I mean) and is still reflected in the new achievement system. I agree that botting cheats the system in some regards when it comes to total time investment, but only for certain things. For example, a botter is able to get the 50 or 75 vanity pet achievements with far less actual time invested, but botting won't get them the title "the Undying."

In that regard, I agree that some achievements (ones based on money or straight farmable things) lessen their value due to botting. Personally, though, I never was interested in achievements, especially the mundane ones where the only requirement was sheer time.

Most players use the time spent on tasks that you botted through for socializing as they played. Did your botting contribute to a more solitary playstyle?
Absolutely not. My botting schedule was basically during working hours 9-5. I only botted when I was at work. I still talked to my friends (in game and out) via IM. I've sent people that /w me in game replies via my IPhone in a meeting or conference before.

As a general rule, botting is dangerous in peak hours. I rarely botted from 5 p.m. to midnight. I'd either be playing or spending time with my family, and I preferred not to have to worry about what was happening while I was enjoying life. I really handled it just something I could get done and lightly monitor on normal work days.

Would you have felt any different about your accomplishments if you had hired another player to run your character for those tasks? Is that something you would or would not consider doing?
I've never felt the need to buy gold or other services in the game. I've let my close friends play my account, of course, but I wouldn't trust it to a third party. If I hadn't been able to bot, I probably would have tried to make do with my limited time or just went back to playing other games.

What about multiboxing? Is that something you ever did?
It's something technically I could have done but was never really interested in.

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