The Guardian has a great article on griefers and the evolving community counter measures to tackle them.
I think it’s interesting how the journalist brings up 2 examples of ‘griefing’ that have caused the debate about gaming ethics (although it’s a discussion that’s been going on forever – at least since the LambdaMoo days).
The first is the EVE Online incident where a group calling themselves the Guiding Hand Social Club, cunningly infiltrated the Ubiqua Seraph corporation and basically ruined them! They worked on this for over a year! I first heard about this after watching one of the State of Play III debates, where Dr. Kjartan Pierre Emilsson brought this up as an example of how sometimes developers just have to shrug and say “Hey! It’s all part of the gameplay!”. I remember being so amused and uttering a little ‘Yay!’. The debate harrowed in the community, however.
The second example, is ofcourse when World Of Warcraft mourners (mourning the death of a real life player in WoW) were completely ambushed by a rival guild. Which was ofcourse seen as disrespectful and awful.
But these two examples are not griefing incidents, in my opinion! And we can’t start punishing players for how they’re playing the game. I mean most of these outcries are like children screaming “BUT IT’S SOOOO UNFAIR!”. It reminds me a lot about my life at the moment. I’m moaning and groaning about my thesis and my friends and family are hitting back with “For crying out loud, Linn! Will you please just get over yourself and finish the goddamn thing! Stop taking yourself so bloody seriously!” – the analogy here is me being the screaming child and my friends being the ‘griefers’! My point is….thank God for ‘griefers’!!!! Sometimes it’s good to have players come along and take the piss of those taking the game way too seriously! Which, in my opinion, doesn’t make them griefers at all!!! So what are griefers? I would call advanced players living off of stealing and hassling new players, griefers – but why? They’re still playing the game, are they not? I’m rambling here, sorry about that – it’s just that I feel we really need to define what griefing is before we start making executive decisions about who’s playing the game the right way and who’s not. I don’t believe that anyone should be punished for these two ‘griefing’ examples, but others may disagree.
So who gets to decide what griefing is and what actions are offensive enough to merit punishment? Who should decide? Game masters or democraticly organised groups? Community or an authoritative power?
I’m gonna leave you with these questions which have so often been thrust at you in this blog – and promise to come back with some reflections on what works and why tomorrow! It’s about time, right?!!