In Defense of God Mode

Warcraft III - The Frozen Throne I’ve been playing World of Warcraft lately mainly because I have not had the mental capacity (due to reading for and prepping literature courses) to do a lot more than level my Paladin, who has recently hit Outland. The whole experience of looking at the game from a new perspective has helped bolster my enjoyment.

Because I’ve enjoyed the Paladin so much, I’ve actually taken to really enjoying Paladin lore.  One of the things I’ve done is downloaded the Arthas novel for my iPhone Kindle and read it during my spare time.  At roughly a quarter through it, I can say I’m intrigued and want more.

So my attention turned to that Warcraft III Battlechest just sitting in my bedroom corner, never having been finished.  But with my schedule and incredibly limited gaming time, how can I ever expect to work my way through the main game and the incredible expansion pack?

Answer: God Mode.

I have abhorred God Mode and similar cheating in games—and cheating it is—since I was young.  I’d rather play a game on Easy than use an invincibility code.  Heck, I’d rather spend hours on a game being stuck in the same spot than even keep a strategy guide beside me or access one on the internet. (I draw the line on consulting one when I absolutely stop having fun, though.  That’s kind of missing the point.)

Warcraft III - Frostmourne Even by going Easy Mode, I would be able to say I had accomplished something.  With God Mode, I wouldn’t be able to say that I had played at all.  More like I had pointed, clicked, and watched the game play itself.

But what if the only reason I want to play a game is solely for the story, like my current interest in Warcraft III?  What if I had no interest whatsoever in the genre, platform, puzzles, or mechanics of the game world? Would it be wrong for me to just enter the God Mode cheat and cruise my way through all the campaigns to finally experience the story?

Even with my disdain of such cheats, I don’t think so.

Why would I deign to get off my nerdrage fueled, self-righteous high horse, you ask?  Because my purpose for playing the game in the first place is not to have fun (in the strictest sense in regard to gaming), nor would it be to experience the well-crafted content in a way the developers made it to be conquered.

No, my whole reason for even reinstalling the game would be to see first-hand the original story.  I don’t see it as being much different than reading Arthas, Rise of the Lich King or even just looking the lore up on WoWwiki and reading a summary of WCIII’s story.  I would be God Moding solely to experience the narrative portion of the game, not actual mechanics. I would be playing in only the loosest sense of the word.

Warcraft III - Arthas For me, this is just another way to get an interesting story.  I equate it with reading a summary or watching a TV show: non-interactive entertainment.  I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) consider to have played and beaten Warcraft III by going invincible, but I would get to see some content that I would not get to experience otherwise.  To me, the end justifies the means. I want to see Arthas become the Lich King, Illidan become the Betrayer, and Archimonde thrown down at Hyjal.  I don’t want to read about it…again.

So tell me now, do you God Mode in any games?  If so, what makes you do it and why? If not, the same question to you!

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


    1. I’m on Malygos-US. I was on Ner’Zhul-US briefly, but couldn’t end up making the guild’s schedule, so it wasn’t worth being away from my friends as great as the guild was.

  1. Of course this was okay! I think cheating only becomes a problem if it affects other people directly or indirectly.

    1. That’s kind of what I’m thinking. It’s not as though I’m on, trying to hack away and get an uber Hero or anything. I’m just…maximizing my time spent with the game most efficiently.

  2. You’re free to do what you want, of course, but personally I never think there is a good reason to god mode. The last time I used a god mode was probably when I played the first Doom… I’m sure my teenaged mind thought it would be awesome, but I quickly learned how hollow a game is to me when “playing” like that.

    The stories in games aren’t strong enough to stand up w/o actual real gameplay (again, IMO) and in fact are created with the assumption that the player is, you know, playing. =)
    .-= Andrew´s last blog ..Story-Driven MMORPGs =-.

    1. I agree with you 100%. Or well, let’s say 98%. I do think that games become hollow shells of what they are intended to be by using God modes.

      But I’m really curious now about how player intent interacts with developer intent. Yes, the developer works a game under the assumption that gamers are playing through normally. But when a game is narrative-driven, how much does that impact the developer’s intent? Some games don’t have strong narrative ties, while others do. For me, WCIII’s story is just strong enough–or at least interesting enough–to warrant my taking an alternate route to experience it sans actual gameplay. Other games are nowhere as close. For instance, WoW: running through Ulduar loses something if one could one-shot the bosses. Because the narrative doesn’t come from progression through the Instance; progression through the Instance //is// the narrative.

  3. I love cheats like that. It’s a matter of options. If they are there, I can cheat and hurt only myself. I don’t particularly care what anyone thinks of how I play. If these cheat options are there, I can always ignore them and just play as normal.

    If they aren’t there, though, I’m stuck and have to play the way the devs designed… and I may not always agree with their design. Gaming, to me, is about *me* making choices, not doing what someone else mapped out. Devs, give me the option to “cheat”, drop the sermonizing, and let me play already. If nothing else, cheating may be my only way to play the game that you set up as a Nintendo Hard tribute to your godlike programming skills. I don’t pay money for that, I pay for something I want to play and have fun with.

    I wrote about it at more length hereabouts:
    Game Tourism
    wherein I link to a great article by Shamus over at Twenty Sided about much the same topic.

    One other thought: I work in the game industry, and if nothing else, “cheats” allow us as devs to get to places in the game that need testing without grinding through the game “as intended”. They let us see the game as a whole, without getting bogged down in the minutae of playing through everything. That’s hugely important when trying to get a “big picture” sense of the game, and what is working on that level. It’s not a bad idea to give at least some of that control to players for the same purpose; to let them understand the narrative and game world without getting bogged down in the “gaming” mechanics.
    .-= Tesh´s last blog ..Us and Them =-.

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game with a “God Mode” that I know of. My video game experience is clearly lacking.

    I see it similiar to what you described though: when you’re playing God Mode, you’re not actually *playing* the game, but you are enjoying a story like a TV show or a movie.

    I don’t think I would ever do it personally, I love discovering stories in games as I go. I think that might actually be why I rarely watch TV shows or movies, I can’t stand non-interactive stories. Written stories might be the only exception, but then again, reading is somewhat interactive since you’re in control of how you imagine the characters and their adventures.
    .-= Ophelie´s last blog ..Why do I Need Battle Text? Let Me Tell You! =-.

  5. I never had much fun with God mode in games like Doom. Yeah, it was occasionally cool to run around and blast everything but I really believe that in any game, without risk there can be no reward. Balancing them is tricky though and very hard to get right.

    Of course, the cheeky monkey in me would say that playing a Paladin in WoW is already God mode 😀
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..WoW Arena Season 8: Fashion Victim =-.

  6. I think that’s a perfectly acceptable way to do it, particularly if you’re more motivated by story in this case than by anything else.

    I’ve always been one of those embarrassing people who loves games but who is pretty much skill challenged when it comes to actually playing them. But a lot of my motivation is also story based. When a game I’m not good at doesn’t have a “cheat” option it often takes me a very long time to struggle through it, and in those circumstances I often will use a strategy guide, just to make sure that I get to see everything that I want to see in the game, without having to play through it multiple times. I did this with Mass Effect, since I’m notoriously bad with anything that requires me to aim, but because the story sucked me in so much that I NEEDED to see the outcome of the game. I kept a strategy guide with me, because making up lost ground would have been punishing considering how often I died, and I turned the game to easy difficulty when I got overwhelmed by a particular fight.

    When a game you would otherwise like is set up in such a way that the challenge is in areas you don’t enjoy the challenge of, or when the challenge is actually obstructing the part of the game you enjoy, I think it’s perfectly legitimate to find a way to play that emphasizes the parts you like. This, of course, only applies to single player games, where you’re not out-god-moding other players.

  7. I completely understand where you’re going man. I just found this post/article 2 yrs post publishing, and I’m glad I found it. When I told others that I was going god mode for the storyline almost everyone looked at me weird.
    A game has to have a storyline.
    I don’t get how other gamers can just PvP and call it fun. (e.g. first person shooters) “Dude I killed you like 10 times.” “I know that was awesome!”… Eventually if I’m curious about the game play and whatnot I’ll give it an actual try prior to going god. Then there’s StarCraft 2 that gives you achievements and other challenges that would be rendered invalid with cheats. I guess it’s all how you spin it.

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