"Double your pleasure, double your fun?"

- The ethics and ramifications of dual-boxing. Most developers don't mind ("Buy all the
subscriptions you like!"), but should they?

Wow, this week for our network content article we got such a cool topic, and one that I had to jump all over.  Being a complete computer geek for the past 25+ years (yeah, I’m old!), I have a huge collection of computer equipment just lying around.  Over the years this has made it very possible to dual, triple, even quad box many games.  I have done it in many different games at many different points in time.

The question comes about, should I?  Is there a moral or ethical reason to not dual-box?  Should developers care?  Should casual players?

Dual-boxing – What exactly is it?

Dual-boxing is playing two accounts at a single time.  Most commonly this is done to mule goods, power level, farm, check and sell items in the auction houses, heal a main, watch for PvP’ers and more.  The term dual-boxing comes from the fact that traditionally you needed two computers to accomplish this.  With many games now, you can run them in a windowed mode and accomplish it on a single computer as long as you have two valid accounts. 

Dual boxing can also be used by players that just don’t like groups.  By having a second character and some serious uber-micro you can actually play both characters in many games and accomplish things that there is no way you could solo.  Many older players do this as a way to avoid having to play with the vast number of kids that are now playing MMO’s (especially WoW).

All you really need to dual-box is two legit accounts on a game and either 2 computers or 1 very good computer and a large screen or dual screens.  From that point is just building up the skill to control two characters at once (if you are playing them) or building the macros to help the main character.

Here is one person’s take on why she dual-boxes.  The article is called: My Digital Toy box

Is Dual-boxing bad?

For the purpose of this article I am just going to look at dual-boxing as a method of playing 2 characters at one time so that you can access areas that you normally couldn’t and to level faster.  When used for these methods in my opinion, no, dual-boxing is not a bad thing.  Of course, I have dual boxed in many games (FPS and MMOs mainly) including Diablo and WoW.

When used as a method just to gain gold for profit, or power level characters for profit (IE: selling on the secondary market), then I draw the line.  Not so much at the fact that they are dual-boxing, but at the fact that they are doing it to sell items, gold or characters which is against the ULA.

Used to level, dual-boxing brings another element to the game.  Because you are trying to maintain and control two characters, there are twice as many chances to make errors, screw up and die.  When you are learning to dual-box this will happen very often.  To be able to control both characters demands constant attention, skill, patience and practice.  If you are willing to dedicate the time to it, I say, more power to you.

Some people have a real aversion to players that dual-box, saying that they are cheating or wrecking the game.  I don’t see it.  If grouping is legal and morally ok, then why isn’t grouping with yourself. 

Your saying I should WANT to put up with that useless 8 year old hunter that inevitably ends up in each group that pulls without regard for how many MOBs will come?  Or the Warrior that at level 60 still insists they can be a valid tank with two swords? Or that priest that insists that vampiric embraces do enough healing for them to remain in shadowform?  Come on, a guy can only take so much, and then it drive you to play with yourself….  Hmmm, ok, bad wording there, but stick with me…. Oh, damn, did it again, didn’t I.  

Ok, strike that whole last bit!

What it comes down to is that sometimes there just are no other good options for players.  Sometimes there are, and at those times, I would rather group with a friend or guild member.  However when they are not around, a random grouping is asking for trouble so much of the time, that many players just give up on it.

I would not suggest someone to completely skip grouping to dual-box.  Just like I would strongly recommend that no one dual-box level their first character (or even their second) to level 60.  The game is after all supposed to be an item of enjoyment, not something to rush through.  Take you time, slow down, smell the peacebloom.  On your 3rd, 4th, or 12th alt though, it’s all fair game….  Get to the end to play with your other level 60 friends as fast as you can.

Should the Developer or other players care if I dual-box?

This is a tough question and one that isn’t all that straight forward to answer.  Should the developer care?  Yes, but only if you are doing it to break the ULA.  If you are doing ti to avoid groups, get further faster, etc.  I do not believe it is any of their concern, after all you are paying them twice as much, they should be thrilled!  If you are doing it for some nefarious gold or item farming scheme / scam then, I am all for the developers finding and banning you.  Better yet I hope they seize all the gold and items before you sell it!

Should other players care?  Again, it’s a little complicated.  In general though, no they shouldn’t.  May the average gamer bitch and complain that it’s unfair, you have an advantage, etc, etc, etc.  Yes, but when doesn’t an mmo player complain about something! If they wanted to enjoy the same advantage, they can, just buy a second computer, game, account and so on and go for it.  Most people already have more than one computer in their house anyway, and a lot of new games can be run twice on the same computer, so you could do it with 1 decent computer instead of using two.

The time where other players should care is when you are in groups.  It is completely unfair to have both of your characters join a group and not tell the other players.  No matter how good at dual-boxing you are, you can not play both characters at 100%.  Make sure the other players know and expect a little less than perfect.  If they prefer, you should really drop down to playing a single character.

So, how do you dual box in WoW?

Ok so you’ve read through the whole article and decided that you need to try this yourself.  Good for you!  To really make up your own mind about it, you need to try it.  Rather than get into a long description and instructions on how to go about dual-boxing World of Warcraft, I am going to point you to two excellent guides that I found while doing research for this article.

The first article talks a little about what dual-boxing is, the benefits, and the methods that the author uses to make dual-boxing WoW easier.  This includes using a Nostromo N52 Gamepad to make control easier.  You can read the whole article here: http://www.silversurferuk.com/

The second one goes into a much more detailed description of how to dual-box, with the twist that he shows you how to do it on one computer and switch between the screens to the proper character. He also talks about methods to use to fight and level, as well as thoughts on professions, patience and best class combinations.

Many other players have posted comments on the article further expanding the detail provided.  So, if you really want to dual-box WoW, I strongly suggest checking this article out: http://worldofwarcraft.gameamp.com/guide/viewGuide/136.php


Have comments or suggestions? Thought of something that has been missed? Found an error? We would love to hear from you! Please post in our fourms or email me at [email protected].


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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.