When Games Go Beyond Gaming

This post should go live waaay before this, around the time of the 2nd Guild Wars 2 Stress Test. But hey, who said I could come with some clever title for it?

Anyway, there are only two moments in my life where a game made me move back in my chair to get a clear picture of everything I was seeing.

The first one was in World of Warcraft, after Cataclysm. At the time, the only thing I wanted was the Loremaster title, which requires completing almost every single quest in the game. I was going around in the flooded Thousand Needles, in a boat with goblins and dwarfs. Your mission was to steal something in a bar (I can’t really remember what it was) but it required some sort of distraction. Since the things between goblins and dwarfs weren’t going so fine, all you needed to do was to smash a bottle in someone’s head.

And there I was. In a bar in a boat in the middle of a huge lake, with cramped tables, all with mixed dwarfs and goblins and a single bottle sitting in one of them. You looted the bottle, opened you inventory, selected any other NPC, double clicked the bottle and… the whole bar starts fighting. The scene was so weird, so surreal and still so funny, I almost forgot I had to steal whatever I needed.

(In case you’re curious, the name of the quest is Bar Fight!)

The second time was in Guild Wars 2 2nd Beta Weekend.

In my attempt to get some XP, I decided to go around completing the waypoints and interest points in Hoelbrak when I witnessed the following conversation between two NPCs:

Bann, a Norn hunter, approaches Shaman Ursel with a problem.

Bann: I was out in the Borealis Forest, not far from here, and I came across an enraged broodmother.

Bann: I tracked it for a while, I was in a dominant position, until it caught my scent and attacked.

Bann: When the fight was over, the broodmother and its offspring lay dead, scattered in the underbrush.

Shaman Ursel: So you won the battle.

Bann: It’s true. My enemy is not the broodmother or her ravenous kits.

Bann: My enemy is the wound I suffered during the fight. It can’t be healed. I can’t hunt. I can’t do anything.

Bann: I’m less than half what I was, and I don’t know how to overcome it.

Shaman Ursel: I understand your challenge, and Bear has a lesson that’ll give you comfort, it you’re ready to learn it.

Bann: I’m ready.

Shaman Ursel: Bear teaches us the seasons. We have spring, winter, summer and autumn.

Shaman Ursel: In the spring, the bears awaken, find mates and form families. In summer, they teach their cubs to survive.

Shaman Ursel: In autumn, they hunt, and the forest belongs to them. In winter, THEY belong to the forest.

Shaman Ursel: In life, we also have seasons we must respect. Your season has changed, but you’re no less part of the forest.

Bann: I think I understand.

Shaman Ursel: Don’t try to walk autumn’s path in winter. Bear has given you a new mantle to wear and new challenges to overcome.

Now, maybe it doesn’t make a connecting with you right now, but it will, eventually. And the fact that such lesson is given by two NPCs that don’t do anything more extraordinary while still following the theme in the game… that’s completely mindblowing.