NOTE: I've labeled this as a "Lord of the Rings Online" article, but that's just due to the example used herein. It could apply to any MMORPG, really.
Recently the subject of Dual-boxing came up again on the official LOTRO forums, as well as on other LOTRO websites, due to a bit of a controversy that has arisen in the Ettenmoors (the instanced battleground for PvP activity in LOTRO). It seems some people are dual-boxing their way to quick and easy PvMP (Player vs. Monster-Player) ranks now, and that has many up in arms.
Wait, let me step back a minute. What exactly is Dual-Boxing in the first place? This is when you have multiple game accounts running at once, with all characters linked together in a group and controlled by a single person. This is most commonly accomplished with software that feeds keystrokes and mouse-movements to all game clients at once, so that when the player hits a key, let's say the 4 key, whatever ability is mapped to 4 on each of those clients characters goes off. For all intents and purposes, this allows the player to run a full group of characters all by themselves, if they set up their characters properly. They won't have the flexibility of a group made up of individual players, who can all react as needed and think for themselves, but it still is better than having a single player out there alone.
So, why is this a problem, then? Dual-boxing may be a cheap way to get a group together, but how is it a problem for the game or other players in that game? Well, the Ettenmoors, for one thing.
You see, a little while back, Turbine revamped PvMP in LOTRO, and changed the way they calculated ranks therein. Previously, a player who was "farming" PvMP via dual-boxing was shunned by the community because it was a stupid thing to do, but they were otherwise left alone, because they couldn't really get far in PvMP that way. But now, under the new way PvP works in LOTRO, a dual-boxing player can get a character to rank 10 (out of 15) in a day.
Let me say that again. Zero to rank 10 in a single day!
There are many PvMP players who haven't ever gotten a sniff of rank 10, and have been doing it for years, and now some person running a small swarm of linked characters they control from one keyboard and mouse are able to do that in a single day? As you might expect this has some people rather upset. Really, really upset.
Turbine, for their part, have not commented on the controversy, and have instead simply locked all threads on the official forums that try to discuss it. Having no other information out of the company to go on, their previous stance that dual-boxing is just fine remains in place, and thus they have no problem with it being used in the Ettenmoors. If that's the case, I can see why they would not want to discuss it further, and would be locking all those threads. No need to make things worse by endorsing the farmers and upsetting all other PvMP players, right?
But what do you think about it? I have no horse in this race, personally, as I don't play the more competitive aspects of most MMOs anymore, but I am interested in hearing what other people think about it. Is dual-boxing an exploit, at least in this case (if not in all cases)? Does it give someone a competitive advantage, or allow them to accrue ranks faster than a player running a single character would? Feel free to respond in the comments below, if you like.