Is it possible to be immoral in a virtual world?
Can we be immoral to a NPC?
What is a NPC? It is essentially a physical object in the virtual world. It acts and we interact with it, but it is ultimately a scripted object which exists for a purpose. Morality is hard to define, but in the case of NPCs, let's define immorality as violation or denial of purpose.
Taken strictly this would imply that it is immoral to not complete the quests of a quest NPC. But maybe the NPC exists to offer the quest and rewards, not necessarily to give the quest. That suggests that not talking to a quest NPC is immoral, which seems ridiculous. However morality rarely rests on a foundation of "don't be ridiculous", because if it did, then I'd be getting hit by lightning often enough to give America energy independence.
Let's rewind a bit: who is defining purpose? The developers define the purpose of a NPC, so logically it would seem that they could define the related morality. This is a big assumption, but I assume that the developer-gods wouldn't define an immoral action and have no punishment for it. However there is punishment for ignoring NPCs: loss of income, items, and reputation. It is clear that we are behaving immorally when we do not talk to, accept, and complete quests from NPCs. We are awful people.
There are of course other NPCs. Vendors exist to offer goods for sale. We visit them, but not all, which similar to the quest NPCs implies a massive subversion of purpose and therefore immorality. Trainers exist to provide spells, so as long as we have all our spells on that character, our morality is untainted. This suggests that perhaps we should apply the same to vendors, that if we have completed all our needs for buying and selling, that we have sufficiently interacted with vendors as a whole. This also means that if we leave a NPC area with our bags fuller than we'd like, that we are behaving immorally by denying the vendor his purpose. Guard NPCs are meant to fight, meaning they are meant to possibly die. The same goes for all hostile NPCs.
Can the vendor argument be applied to quest NPCs? Can we ignore their quests if our needs for quests are met? I do not think so, because as long as there is a quest, we have not yet completed all we can, so it remains immoral to ignore a quest giver.
By this reasoning, only Loremasters are anywhere close to moral, but even they fail to complete all daily quests. However this is inevitable as there are too many daily quests. This does not excuse them from all daily quests, but instead means they must seek out those quest givers most in need of offering. And here is where I must end, because I cannot say which quests are most needed. Are they the most recent quests, or are they in fact the least recent quests, those which have been neglected?
Let us pray on this to our developer-gods.
Try-It Tuesdays: Ninelives
6 hours ago