Are we the bad guys of Azeroth?

Allison Robert
A. Robert|04.02.08

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Are we the bad guys of Azeroth?
After publishing a recent Breakfast Topic on whether there should be a sense of personal honor in PvP, I wasn't really all that surprised to see a few comments echoing the sentiments of "If it's red, it's dead" and "Don't roll on a PvP server if you don't want to get ganked." These crop up in any discussion about PvP, and while there's an undeniable sense to them -- why would you roll on a PvP realm unless you wanted to, I dunno, PvP? -- I've always felt that they did actual PvP a disservice. You can't frame ganking as true PvP. There's no such thing as strategy, skill, or even combat when a player one-shots another, so I've never considered ganking to be defensible along the same lines that actual PvP is.

But that just made me think about legitimate ways that people defend world PvP occurring under fairer circumstances. According to existing lore, the Horde and the Alliance more or less operate under the terms of an informal and at times uncomfortable truce. The lore justifies battlegrounds in the sense that the Silverwing Sentinels versus the Warsong Outriders (for example) aren't operating under the official auspices of their respective factions; the clashes are understood to be quarrels between sub-groups. But you can make a pretty strong case that as long as these quarrels are being actively fought, no true peace between the Horde and the Alliance is possible. Any negotiation or discussion is bound to deteriorate into a never-ending litany of "But (your sub-group) is still attacking (my sub-group)!" Clashes between individual players are likely to be considered the same way ("I know what you did in Nagrand last summer!"). You can't swing a dead cat in the world today without hitting a long-running intranational, international, or interstate feud being continued by people who absolutely will not back off an old grudge, and that's the lens through which I tend to view most world PvP and battlegrounds. All very well and good, but in the end both factions face significantly more danger from the Burning Legion and the Scourge than they do from each other.

Assuming we're all still in it for the fun of PvP (and, well, the gear), this is pretty much just a mental exercise, but it's interesting to consider that player-characters are, lore-wise, among the primary contributors (rather than the primary responders) to the friction between the Horde and the Alliance.
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