Griefing… Is it in your game?

An editorial by
Jasarina

face=Arial>

face=Arial>Have you ever experienced the anger and frustration that comes in the
form of a player in your favorite game who insists that he must kill the mob you
have spent all night getting to? Forget the rest of the mobs in the game, yours
is the one he wants and no other. Not only is this his feeling, he also doesn’t
care to listen to anything you have to say about it and helps himself anyway,
while you take time to talk and even petition. How many times have you been in a
zone of your favorite game and been trying to communicate with others, trade
skill, hunt or just relax and the public channels are instantly full of the
gibberish, fighting, and nonsense of the obnoxious? Finding it impossible to
“hear” yourself think in this environment is not the definition of fun. In fact
it’s the kind of grief that one doesn’t want to intrude on an evening of game
play.

face=Arial>

face=Arial>This is something that anyone that logs into an MMO experiences. It
happens in all the games. There is honestly little official recourse in most
games for those affected by this activity that has earned the fitting name of
griefing. This is a word that has become rooted in the online gaming community.
By definition, grief means a deep and poignant distress. A griefer then, we can
assume, is a person who causes distress to others.

face=Arial>

face=Arial>Recently I polled various MMO forums to see what players thought
about griefing and how they defined it in relation to each game. I received
varied responses from approximately 5% of those who viewed my postings. In
addition to these replies, I received about twenty emails. Surprisingly, I found
that the majority of the players had a high tolerance for griefing and were not
overly concerned about griefing as long as they had the ability to self-police
these occurrences. Is it possible that this the practice has become so prevalent
that most players just tune it out?

face=Arial>

face=Arial>In my travels through the MMO forums, there was one where I learned
of another form of griefing that occurs outside of the confines of the game
called trolling. Trolling is when a member of a forum community constantly
leaves negative remarks in topics just for the means of attacking the posters.
Their comments are often off topic and do not add anything to the conversation.

face=Arial>

face=Arial>I encountered this on the official World of Warcraft forums where my
simple questions were answered with nothing but flames. It can be argued that
because the target audience for World of Warcraft is younger that this
contributes to the amount of trolling on their forums and griefing in their
game. While this can not be proven it is my personal theory.

face=Arial>

face=Arial>Along with the official site, I also posed my questions on two guild
forums from World of Warcraft. These guilds were Afterdark ( http://www.afterdarkguild.com face=Arial> ) and Unfinished Tale ( http://www.unfinishedtale.com/default.aspx face=Arial>). Finion, from Afterdark, was the first to chime in. He feels that
there are three main problems with griefing in World of Warcraft.

face=Arial>

face=Arial>The first thing he mentioned is that members of the opposite faction
who would kill non-player characters who were essential to questing. This
prevents players from turning in the pieces of quests that they had completed.
He also mentions an issue with players camping the battleground graveyards.
These areas are PvP, or player versus player. When the battleground is camped,
and a character comes back to life they are easily killed. Finally, he speaks
about the large number of farmers who steal mobs, and taunt players openly with
insults and rude gestures. All of these forms of griefing he states could be
addressed and easily fixed.

face=Arial>

face=Arial>Finion suggests that the first and second examples of griefing could
be alleviated with a code changes. He offers that with a small change of making
it impossible to kill a player within the first thirty seconds they appear after
death, this would make graveyard griefing non existent. The character would have
a chance to fight or flee instead of being forced into a loop of life and death
unable to do anything other than bang on their desk in frustration.

face=Arial>

face=Arial>He suggests that it would be a conscious choice by the powers that be
at Blizzard to set in on the third example of griefing. The intentional rude and
disruptive behavior that the griefers take part in can only be curtailed by a
consistent and empowered customer service policy and staff. Finion, unlike many
who complain about the problem has offered insightful ideas on how to fix
things.

face=Arial>

face=Arial>Trennik, another member of Afterdark, believes that a griefer is,
“…somebody of the opposing faction who seeks to decrease their victim's gaming
experience with the ultimate goal of making the victim stop playing the game”
When asked if he felt that younger gamers caused more griefing, he responded,
“Perhaps, but to categorize people like that isn't proper. I'd say that a lower
maturity level causes more griefing, and that can be applied to any age range,
but has a higher percentage in younger people.”

face=Arial>

face=Arial>In his closing remarks Trennik stated, “Griefers are out there, and
they get the majority of their gaming experience out of griefing. Take the
griefing away and these people wouldn't play the game at all. It is the game for
them. Unfortunately, their gaming experiences come at the cost of a decreased
gaming experience value for other players who are, in effect, paying to be
griefed. It's a vicious and malicious practice, and should be categorized under
some form of psychosis.”

face=Arial>

face=Arial>Raun, Guild Leader of Afterdark, gave his thoughts on griefing in
World of Warcraft. When asked if he felt that PvP caused an increase in this, he
stated, “I don't think PvP servers necessarily increase griefing. In fact, they
can lessen it in some situations. Such as, when I am clearing around a mine and
some other person runs in and tried to take it. I'm given the option of
attacking and killing them, preventing them from taking the item. Of course,
this opens the door for somebody to kill you when you had first rights at the
item, as well.”

face=Arial> 

face=Arial>Raun addressed the question of how to stop griefing. He said, “…how
it can be stopped? Any time there's a massive online world, where players
interact with each other and the same environment, there's going to be a form of
griefing. To remove the possibility of griefing would mean to remove the ability
of players to interact with the same environment. WoW does that somewhat with
instances by separating players. However, if you instance everything, you've
lost the MMO portion of MMORPG. That gets rid of the fun side of MMOs as well,
the fact that there is a persistent world that thousands of people are all
interacting with the same location as you.”

face=Arial>

face=Arial>When asked how she thought griefing could be fixed Ranna, a member of
Unfinished Tale, responded, “I think the only way you can address the problem is
the same way you do in real life: create accountability. When people hide behind
anonymity, with their behavior governed by very few rules, they tend to act out
in ways they normally wouldn't.” Her thoughts on how to do this include finding
ways to identify characters by account tags. This would allow their behavior to
be attached to the account holder and not just a character or server. She feels
this would give the Game Masters a clearer policy on how to react to accusations
of griefing.

face=Arial>

face=Arial>On the official forums for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, the community
that has already formed around this game is very vocal. They have voiced their
opinions on what they wish to see and very clearly what they do not want to see.
In terms of griefing, the majority of players agreed that they would like a
world where they were free to self-police this type of activity. There is a
general feeling that as long as there is accountability for one’s behavior, that
this shouldn’t be a problem.

face=Arial>

face=Arial>One thing that gives hope to the community surrounding Vanguard: Saga
of Heroes is the daily reminders that the development team is listening to them.
This is clear to anyone that looks at the forum. Daily there are several posts
from the many departments of Sigil Games Online. This is truly a game made by
gamers for gamers. Taking that philosophy, we have seen the crafting and combat
designers, the team that is setting up the economy, and the customer support
team all working together. They have talked through many of the community’s
ideas to best ward against griefing, exploiting and secondary sales. They have
expressed their own frustrations with these issues and their commitment to avoid
them if at all possible.

face=Arial>

face=Arial>There is one thing that must be realized about the dynamics of any
community. It doesn’t matter if it is in “real life” or online. When more than
two people get together, there will be those that feel the need to act in a way
that most find disruptive. Small or large, you have seen how this grief can
affect worlds. Next time you are sitting in your favorite online game, perhaps
you will recall some of the suggestions laid out here and help call others to
account for their behavior.

face=Arial>  


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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Karen 1
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.

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