I’m always interested in the idea of what’s optional vs. what’s compulsory — and more important, how optional something can become before it’s too optional and thus entirely skippable. For instance, in Wrath of the Lich King, I completely bypassed that Kalu’ak reputation grind. Why? Well, for one thing, I refuse to fish. I will not do it. I won’t fish in real life, and therefore I won’t fish in game. So in a way, my bypassing Kalu’ak was because I’ve bypassed fishing. Fishing itself could certainly be seen as completely optional, although I know a lot of players who do it purely for the cooking benefits and even a few who claim to enjoy it.
In a recent forum thread discussing the removal of head enchants and the possible conflict in game design with putting valor gear on the reputation vendors in Mists of Pandaria, Ghostcrawler discussed all the varieties of optional content. I thought it an interesting topic because in Mists of Pandaria, optional seems to have a different meaning than it has before.