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Botting with a Conscience: Why and How I Bot in WoW

The benefits and costs of living on the edge.

In the World of Warcraft and other MMOs, there is a subculture of players looking to enhance their gaming experience.  Tired of the grind or looking for an edge, these like minded players have turned to the world of bots.

The bane of system admins, bots are third party automation programs designed to play some or all of a game automatically.   However, for reasons I'll discuss in this article, bots are frowned upon by many in the gaming community. 

The Official Word on Bots

Before I begin my exploration of the "Shadowy Underworld of Botting," Here is Blizzard's official stance on the practice of using bots in their games.

Automation Programs ("Bots")
We take action against accounts using Automation Programs when one or more characters on the account are identified using a third-party program (or "bot") to provide character automation. Use of these "bots" negatively affects the World of Warcraft game environment, since they allow characters to progress without player control. These "bots" include, but are not limited to, programs that automate combat, movement, and use of gathering professions (such as fishing and mining).

If a player is found to have used such a program, they may:

  • Be temporarily suspended from the game
  • Have further action taken, up to and including account closure, based on the intent of the program

Despite these warnings, some players are willing to take the risk for a variety of reasons.

Reason One for Bots: In-Game Financial Gain

 If you've played World of Warcraft for any length of time, you've probably come across ads similar to this:

"Earn Thousands of Gold per day!  We'll do the work for you!"

Who doesn't want more in game gold?  Gold allows us to purchase armor upgrades, pets, and some of the more rare mounts.  And, like all currency, gold allows us to purchase goods and services from other players so that we don't have to take the time to learn every profession and pattern. 

Reason Two for Bots: Reduction of Repetitive Tasks

Over time, I've come to realize that there are parts of the game that are down right boring.  By boring I mean various tasks take a lot of time to accomplish but produce a small amount of return on that time spent playing the game.  I am referring to, of course, fishing, mining, and gathering.

While these professions and resources are necessary to the game and its economy,  the truth is that, repeated patterns of game play are tedious and invariably taxes a persons sanity. 

As compelling as these two reasons are, there are a few downsides to botting beyond the obvious game suspension.

Bot Barrier: The Cost (in Real Money)

Running a bot "safely" requires extra money on top of your normal monthly game subscription.  Because you work hard on your character, you don't want to jeopardize the loss of your account.  To do this you typically start a second World of Warcraft account that is in no way associated with your main account.  This will cost you an extra $15 per month.

Then there's the cost of the bot itself.  Bot subscription will run anywhere between $10 and $30 per month depending on the service you choose to use.  So your approximate monthly cost to bot is between $40 and $60.  This doesn't include the cost of buying second game license at $80 for all of the current expansions. That's a big investment!

Bot Barrier: In-Game Economy

Not only is there a real world cost, there is also an in-game consequence; the devaluation of the in-game economy.

Indiscriminate auction house practices are the number one complaint of the non-botting community.  These practices mostly come in the form of massive undercutting the current value of an item just to sell it.  Not only do perpetrators of this crime undervalue the market for said item, they insist on flooding the market with these items that are usually 60 to 70 percent less than the closest competitor's price.

This type of undercutting also impacts all of the materials sold on the auction house which are associated with the final product; not just the item being sold.

So where do I stand on this issue?  

I approach World of Warcraft as a hobby and I see no reason why the boring parts of the game should interfere with the more exciting endeavors.  So I choose to bot.  

I really have no desire to gain an advantage over other players.  By making sure I don't flood the Auction House with goods to try and turn a quick profit and by limiting the amount I run the bot so I don't steal resources from other players, I believe I have found a way to bot without impacting the game for other players.  I call it Zero Footprint Botting.

I believe if more of the gamers who choose to bot followed this practice, there would be less animosity towards botters.  Sadly, however, the majority of botters are not of this mindset.  And because of their actions, they have incurred the wrath of the majority of the gaming community. 

If you are going to use bots in World of Warcraft or other MMOs, please be considerate of the other players; use Zero Footprint Botting.

Published Jun. 3rd 2013
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