W-Hat is Emergent Gameplay?

A meta-guild -- i.e., a guild with a presence across a number of virtual worlds and/or MMOs -- allows a group to share their experiences of gameplay in various environments, and eases the process of traveling among such worlds for the individual. I don't play CoH/V, but members of my EVE Online corporation do. As a result, I have a good idea of what the game is like (a better idea than I can get from the press), and I'd have an instant group of co-adventurers should I decide to join, a group which would provide me with tips and aid to speed the process of my getting acclimated (and grinding out my time there).

But just as such groups can serve to funnel information out of virtual worlds to their members, they can also serve to bring information about the group into the virtual world, if the group culture is strong enough. One such culture is that which has arisen on SomethingAwful.com, a Web site devoted to general Internet outrageousness, satire and irreverence of all things . . . well, of all things, really, let's leave it at that.

The rule on SA seems to be, If it exists, it exists to be made fun of. There are some extremely creative minds on the site and in the accompanying forums, and if you can stomach some occasional political incorrectness, juvenilia and scatology, it can be an amusing place to check in. (Try the Missed Connections in World of Warcraft page, for instance.

What fascinates me about SA culture is the way it's manifested itself in the Something Awful meta-guild. The "Goons," as they're known, have a presence in World of Warcraft, EVE Online, Second Life, CoH/V and a number of other games, in most of which they're very active. (There are more than 90,500 users registered on their forums.) In each case that I know of, the edge-of-offensive SA forum culture (sometimes way over the edge) has replicated itself in the native terms of the world in which they're playing, creating what are to me some really interesting examples of emergent gameplay.

In Second Life, the Something Awful Goons are known as "W-Hats," after a forum meme that would get you banned for using the word "what." Members and past members of the W-Hat groups there have been responsible for some of the most outrageous builds in all the virtual world -- including satirizations of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the assassination attempt on the pope. They are also among the most creative and talented builders and scripters in the world, however. A rotating gallery of their creations can be found in the Baku region.

Being outrageous in Second Life is no great accomplishment, to be sure. More interesting to me is the GoonSwarm alliance in EVE Online, which boasts almost 2,600 pilots (or about 1,500 players, by EVE alt averages). While the Goons can't help but hew to EVE's game mechanics, they do so in their own way: they make gleeful zergling suicide runs at enemies and are regularly accused of using exploits to gain an edge. They color as far outside the lines as the game will let them -- as they do everywhere. The in-game profile of one Goon I encountered in EVE summed it up nicely (I paraphrase): "You may be playing EVE Online, but be warned: we are playing Something Awful."

That profile line is very telling: For the Goons, it's Goon culture that comes first, and game culture a not-very-close second. Is this somehow a failing of the games currently available? Is it a mark of how strong the SA culture actually is? Outrageousness aside, is this a desirable condition for a meta-guild? If so, is it something developers could build for or seek somehow to promote? Or would that merely extend the boundaries, and necessitate even more creativity from those who will always seek to bring something more to a virtual world than the world itself could ever offer?


Comments on W-Hat is Emergent Gameplay?:

Prokofy Neva says:

>There are some extremely creative minds on the site and in the accompanying forums, and if you can stomach some occasional political incorrectness, juvenilia and scatology, it can be an amusing place to check in.

Um, I think you mean, if you can tolerate the following, which many of us have suffered in Second Life, which isn't "creative," but just the usual banality of evil:

o destruction of SL property causing actual RL US dollar damage -- destruction because seemingly indestructible virtual property *can indeed* be destroyed when someone invades a group and uses group exploits to edit, dismantle, delink builds or flood sims with prims, forcing builds back into lost and found and delinking them and destroying those not copyable and deleting those not transferable

o disruption of service so that tenants move out, causing actual RL damages in US dollars

o denial-of-service attacks downing the entire grid; this is the cause of a reported FBI case that the Lindens initiated against Plastic Duck and friends

o vicious sexualized attacks constituting cyber-rape; sexual harassment

o horrendous flooding of sims with the awful tub-girl or goatse pictures turned into spewing particle rain, or giant penises, such as was done to Anshe's press conference

o asshole stalker trolling the Internet for my name and avatar linkage, calling up people with that name, then finally calling me at home, and talking even to my child to try to pry information about me

o making an account using my RL info, spoofing an identity

o anonymous, abusive, trolling, defacing of my RL picture, harassment in and out of SL through unasked for teleport offers, notecard spamming, IM spanning.

Shame on you, Mark, for thinking this is just a fun Ludologist thingie to study.

Hell, no.

It's not cultural; it's criminal.

Posted Feb 4, 2007 3:05:32 PM | link

Michael Chui says:

And naturally, instead of learning about criminals, we should just lock them up and ignore them. This prevents crime very effectively.

Posted Feb 4, 2007 4:01:38 PM | link

Mark Wallace says:

I think it's worth examining the two strains of Goonism separately. I wanted to post about the broader issue of meta-guild cultures here. We cover the Goons' transgressions and alleged transgressions pretty thoroughly in the Herald.

Posted Feb 4, 2007 4:28:30 PM | link

says:

As more complex virtual environments emerge, so do more complex griefers, mimicking real life. It is crime, and it is an evolutionary necessity. Certain behaviors are wrong and must be punished, but they will spur the development of the metaverse. I've read before that certain MMOG designers actually dig griefers because they point out the weaknesses in the code. Unfortunately, now there are real resources at stake. What a bitter-sweet sympony.

Posted Feb 4, 2007 4:33:38 PM | link

Bryant says:

Probably worth noting that one strain of the Goons on WoW evolved into the Elitist Jerks, who are among the best theorycrafters in the game. Probably not coincidentally, their expertise is in doing things others think impossible -- they started the "how few can you do Onyxia with" trend with a 10-man kill, and came within 3% of downing Hakkar before killing any of his priests. Coloring outside the lines in a different way.

Posted Feb 4, 2007 4:49:19 PM | link

fofofo says:

Hi! I liked this entry. I'm a goon and former GF/GS member (as well as other goon guilds).

The thing is goon guilds tend to push games to their limits. Who thought newbies could stand a chance against bigger opponents in EVE while losing small amounts or money? Who thought you could actually kidnap mobs in WoW just to spice up the boring PvP? There are lots of those examples and that's the awesome thing about being a goon in a goon guild: you get to do things nobody else did before in MMOs or web based games, thanks to goons trying just to have fun instead of taking games too seriously.

Prokofy Neva I can't believe all those things were made by goons, specially the more haxxor thingies. Are you talking about goons?

Posted Feb 4, 2007 4:51:48 PM | link

Thomas says:

It's good you have fun - as long as your fun doesnt consist in taking away the fun someone else is having.

That's my point of view..


Posted Feb 4, 2007 5:35:30 PM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

Um, I'm not interested in studying criminals further. I've studied them up close for a year. I'm interested in prosecuting them now, thank you very much.

And no, no, no, NO, Mark, I will NOT let you put up this crap about "games" and "meta guild theories" and prettify the ugliness that is W-Hat by forking off to some fun, groovy, Ludology around them. No way. I'm here to remind you that your fun, groovy, Ludology is *based on criminality*. Meta-guild THAT Mark!!!!

Honestly, if you folks had YOUR business destroyed, YOUR real-life pictures defaced, and YOUR home invaded by these freaks, you might not find it as funny and interesting and groovy as you do.

fofofo, yes, Eddie Haskell, I'm talking about Goons, absolutely, undeniably, and please, save yourself the typing, do not start in with the "oh, but it's only a few bad eggs in the carton" and "oh, but don't tar them all with the same brush" blah blah blah BLAH.

No sale. Non pasarant.

Twenty-five banned bad eggs makes more than two dozen eggs and at least one full carton -- not a question of a few bad eggs, here truly. Don't even start.

Yes, they definitely all follow the same patterns, fake deniability gambits, peppering of forums with apologies, distractions, word-saladation, etc. etc. Nope, no sale.

When this stuff starts getting prosecuted seriously, it will stop being a game.

Posted Feb 4, 2007 5:55:24 PM | link

says:

Why haven't you pursued prosecution?

Posted Feb 4, 2007 7:11:52 PM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

How's that anonymous life coming along there dude? And why would I tell anonymous people on the Internet the details of prosecution or not prosecution, in order to make it easier for them to avoid it, hmmm?

Posted Feb 4, 2007 7:30:54 PM | link

Zlatomir Zarkov says:

"...Certain behaviors are wrong and must be punished, but they will spur the development of the metaverse..."

I agree on this, that kind of behaviors will help in development of a real society inside virtual worlds.

Posted Feb 4, 2007 8:57:05 PM | link

Elle Pollack says:

The difference between Goons in SL and Goons in EVE: In EVE, it's legal to shoot back at them. Getting one's ship blown up in EVE is par for the course, pushing the rules of the game is to be expected (though breaking them is frowned on). In SL, however the "rules" are social niceities: bending or breaking those leave people a lot more angry, annoyed or offended. A speculation on why the EVE brand of goons don't push my buttons as much, at least.

Posted Feb 4, 2007 10:09:59 PM | link

JuJutsu says:

Interesting read. The metaguild I belong to is only 1/9 the size of SA but it is great to have guildmates in place no matter what game I would play.

Posted Feb 4, 2007 11:12:41 PM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

>As more complex virtual environments emerge, so do more complex griefers, mimicking real life. It is crime, and it is an evolutionary necessity. Certain behaviors are wrong and must be punished, but they will spur the development of the metaverse. I've read before that certain MMOG designers actually dig griefers because they point out the weaknesses in the code. Unfortunately, now there are real resources at stake. What a bitter-sweet sympony.

I don't see anything "sweet" about it, anonymous take-no-responsibility poster.

Um, I don't buy the extremist line that crime is necessary to develop the metaverse. It's like saying the Black Panthers and the Weathermen were crucial to the revolution of the 1960s and the development of the peace movements around the world, when in fact, they were detours, aberrations, destructive sects.

None of the lefties on this blog would *ever* accept this line of reasoning if we were talking about, oh, robber-barons in the United States in the 18th or 19th centuries being necessary to develop rail or ship lines.

If we said Columbus was vital to developing America, we'd have to hear endless lectures of political correctness.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 1:04:40 AM | link

Jen Dornan says:

I’m going to gingerly dip my toe into this mess and suggest that it is possible to acknowledge that these kinds of meta-guilds are pushing some interesting boundaries within games while also condemning much of their behavior. Barring the kinds of extreme criminal behavior listed, I find the notion that groups of players are seizing virtual worlds across genres and refusing to play the game “as designed” extremely compelling.

On the other hand, while some of these “goons” might in fact be creative minds irreverently exploring the boundaries of modern virtual media, I sadly suspect that the vast majority of them are young kids caught up in the excitement of anonymous aggression. I see SomethingAwful as walking that fine line between witty modern day Tristram Shandy’s and genuine thugs out to wreak havoc for their own pleasure.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 1:36:28 AM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

>I find the notion that groups of players are seizing virtual worlds across genres and refusing to play the game “as designed” extremely compelling.

We all do that, those of us who spend any time in games. Most gamers push around the edges and do stuff that isn't part of the original game plan. But most of us do it without crime or harassment. The maker of Eve can say "Fraud is Fun" with a twinkle in his eye because fraud is part of the accepted gameplay. In Second Life, which isn't supposed to be a game, fraud is a TOS violation that may overlap into RL crime if the amounts are large enough.

The real meta game here, if Mark is willing to study it and if somebody like Cory Linden is willing to discuss it, is what was said with this kind of statement: "certain MMOG designers actually dig griefers because they point out the weaknesses in the code."

It's so obvious that this is the case, and it's one of the severe MMORPG hangovers that Second Life suffers greatly from. The coder Lindens love the griefers, feed them, form the substrate for them to continue, are adulated by them, fete them, and therefore it's hard to imagine any judge in the land ever saying, "Um, and...you think you have a case for a denial-of-service attack when you ENCOURAGE reverse engineering? Hello???" And this attitude of love and respect and *fun* is what makes it so hard to get rid of griefing -- there is always somebody official in charge who is in fact having a good laugh at whatever antics the hacksters got up to, and thinking it's great that they found an exploit (it's part of the secretive culture of both the griefers, the reverse engineers, and LL that we never get to hear WHAT these wonderful bug-hunters found. I've asked this question over and over again, and heard only crickets).

LL's irreverent attitude to this was displayed in spades long ago when they created a "corn field" for the miscreants who were, as Torley Linden inimitably put it, the "white collar criminals". That is, the garden-variety TOS violators who shot people or sexually harassed them or indulged in racist remarks got the old-fashioned boot and were logged out and banned for 3 or 7 or 14 days.

But the smart haxxors who tweaked the code or fiddled around with bots or exploits or whatever were sent to the exotic "Corn Field" where they became media darlings and got to brag to their friends about their coolness.

I always feel like the Lindens aren't really chasing these hackster gridcrashers so much as playing an elaborate red/blue team sort of game with them where they actually enjoy the fight, and like their opponents who make their jobs fun. THIS is the meta game across all games, the elite camraderie of coders who feel themselves superior to civilians, even sneering at their bourgeois behaviours and valuation of things like "property" or "buildings" or "civilization" or "socializing".

I find it gets really damn tiresome though, all this preciousness about what amounts to a gang of juvenile delinquents.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 1:54:39 AM | link

Cael says:

Prokofy:

You seem to be of the opinion that the Internet is Serious Business.

I think it's important to nte that the Goons/SA don't. The only thing they take seriusly is mocking those who take things so seriously that they come across as po-faced shut-ins with nothing better to think about than WoW or EVE or Second Life. SL probably more than the rest since the "It's not a game!!!" crowd are NOT there have fun and actually think they're doing something serious when they are, in fact, just jerking off online, like the Goons.

Your four-page comments are equally, just jerking off. It's not life. Nobody really cares. Grow up.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 4:07:20 AM | link

Alvis Brigis says:

--- Sorry Prok, my apologies for errantly posting the evolutionary necessity entry sans name (didn't post the second one though). Didn't catch my irresponsible blunder until just now. ---

I do not dispute the criminality of many W-Hat behaviors, just as I do not dispute the criminality or many RL crimes. But I would like to reiterate that both do spur structural evolution and antibody development. A destructive / criminal / deviant /griefer element % is built into the human species. Those of us with empathy, morals, values who maintain order rightfully want to reduce that behavior. But, stepping outside of the self and our precious real life resources (not sarcasm), and flying in the face of political correctness, it's obvious that the behavior of robber barons and other resource gobblers and social deviants does indeed spur on the system. Over time, as people evolve in response to such opportunism, society strengthens its defenses and develops new capabilities, transforms.

As VW's and other ICTs increase the fluidity of social behavior and evolution, that allows for a corresponding evolution of griefing and crime. Regardless of how we feel about that, the trend continues. As minds react, and services pop up that counter this deviant behavior, new beneficial innovations akin to virus protection, anti-spam software, alarm systems, etc. also pop into existence. Minus the demand generated by these mini-crises, such reactive innovations may evolve at a slower rate. And that *might* be a really bad thing. For example, what if the recorded natural dynamic behavior (good, bad, ugly) of people in VWs eventually helps us to solve a complex RL virus or other disease faster…

As the sheriffs in the wild wild metaverse step up the complexity of their defense / maintenance behavior to deal with the new and inevitable hi-tech goons, griefers, etc., the broader immune system develops. And, over time, the broader world benefits from and mimics the new solutions that were forced to evolve in these VW chambers.

So I stand by the statement that a bitter-sweet symphony is emanating from these experiments that are now blending into our reality. The sweetness in the equation is derived from the vast potential for quantification / learning at a *reduced* cost, like the lack of physical murder, rape, vandalism, etc.

Your general point is well taken, and I'm on the side of the law. But I believe that one can also learn valuable lessons from costly heinous VW/RL crime and acknowledge that such behavior may cause good, while also condemning such activities. You are right, Prok, in your vehement condemnation of the illegal, resource-burning behavior. Glorifying / allowing such behavior is a recipe for disaster. But it's inevitable that we go down the rabbit hole, and as you are aware, we’re already going there and it is what it is and what we ALL are making of it.

re: LL valuing certain hackers. Your point about the "white collar" griefers/criminals is excellent. It’s interesting to note that this emergent trend is not limited to complex VWs. Just as in RL, those with the skillful hacks get off with fewer penalties and, more or less, are allowed to continue their play in the system. Like it or not, there's much to be learned here as the mirror of SL is held up to the reality of RL and we are forced to come to terms with our natural, instinctual, emergent special behavior. In fact, it may well be key to our long term survival.


Posted Feb 5, 2007 4:46:11 AM | link

Wolfe says:

Its up to the devs to make these types of cultures work within the game without degrading the quality as percieved by other players. In some cases you might need to allow for free server transfers to allow the more "ordinary" players a method of opting out from the chaos which might follow a too large player organisation.

Other constructions such as SL or EVE might have to figure out other measures, which might be difficult.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 5:16:43 AM | link

Endie says:

I was lucky enough to be on the right server in SWG, and to share it with a bunch of Goons (I think it was Lowca?) Frankly, it was great fun: this bunch of people with a shared set of values (strange, weird and perverse, but still values) and a degree of ready-made social cohesion who would puncture every pompous bubble, needle the self-important and generally rile those most in need of a dose of riling.

That said, I was never hugely tempted to join. Until now. Prokofy reminds me, by his very existence, just why Goons are needed. In fact, as soon as I get home, I'm going to hand over my money and stump up for an SA forum account. I'm well aware of the possibility for humiliation and grief that this involves, but really: Second Life is a game, Prok. Just not a very fun one. You're not doing something important. You're not forging something on the digital frontier.

Gnosi se auton. Have a Naked Lunch moment: you're hanging out with the rest of the fabulous furry freak brothers in a glorified chat room with RMT. And I occasionally take a peek at your blog: it is a hilarious and camply-shrieked list of schoolgirl-level offences against you committed by - apparently - everyone who has ever had an SL account, including most of Linden Labs' imaginary million-billion-strong user-base. If you stopped being so easily provoked, you might even find the kiddies pull someone else's pigtails...

Posted Feb 5, 2007 6:53:03 AM | link

Ian Betteridge says:

Cael says:

"Your four-page comments are equally, just jerking off. It's not life. Nobody really cares. Grow up."

But that's the problem, Cael, and the key difference between Second Life and (say) WoW. For some people, SL is a vital part of their life, because it provides a significant chunk of their income.

At one end off the scale are the Anshe Chung's, but at the other end their are lots of ordinary people - students, home workers and others - who manage to make a decent chunk of money. Two students I know replaced their summer McJobs with making stuff in Second Life.

Griefing and grid exploits affect these people's real lives to a far greater extent than they would in WoW or Eve.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 7:59:38 AM | link

Pete says:

Woah. If people start getting prosecuted for in-game behaviour in SL, then it ceases to be a game and becomes just a pile of advertising and money-sucking devices with a battery of lawyers standing over it. If I wanted that I'd go to the mall.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 8:16:04 AM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

Neat little distraction and subversion there, Pete. People are NOT being prosecuted for mere "ingame behaviour" like shooting someone with a pixelated gun so that they don't die, but get teleported home.

No, they are being prosecuted for *real criminal activity in the real world*.

o Bringing an entire grid of 4000 or 5000 servers to a halt -- this is a denial-of-service attack. It's a real-world attack.

o Stalking someone using the Internet is a *real-life crime*

o Destructing of property systematically even if in a virtual world is a crime, no different than the "virtual" crime of denial-of-service

o Identity spoofing -- a RL offense.

You're already revealing your hand as a typical W-hat zealot with your obvious noir, nihilist, and narf-narfing viewpoint, notorious and known to all, that a complex and evolving thing like Second Life is "just a pile of advertising" and "just money-sucking devices" with "a battery of lawyers" unless it is "purified" through "better-world-through griefing" tactics such as you applaud.

The idea that we "need" W-hat terrorism to save us from this "awful fate worse than death" called "having lots of advertising and shopping malls" is fallacy no. 1.

Fallacy no. 2 is that there is "only shopping malls and advertising" in SL, when there is everything from non-profits to education to socializing to entertainment.

This Puritanical screeching about what other people wish to have the freedom to do is really unseemly, and isn't sanctified coming from the extreme left.

The criminality of griefing prevents the constructive development of SL in a civilized manner. As such, it is nihilist, and not at all "beneficial" as the W-Hat idealogues imagine.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 8:31:10 AM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

>But I would like to reiterate that both do spur structural evolution and antibody development.
I really dispute this logic, because it is rooted in real-life dynamics, which are entirely different as far as scale, magnitude, and remedy.

In Second Life or in a game world, we don't have recourse -- we are often helplessly under the thumb of autocratic or even corrupt (see the GM discussion above) powers that in fact encourage griefing tacitly for their own internal reasons.

In a virtual world, we might log off, of course, but we don't have the protections from destuctiveness that we have in RL.

These worlds are synthetic, accelerated, exaggerated, and therefore unleashing the griefing in them in the name of "therapy" and "anti-body" creation is completely uncontrollable.

You could never get away with such nihilist logic in real life, telling the town fathers and school authorities and parents that they need to allow a certain amount of criminality and delinquency for the good of development of both adults and children and the society at large. I don't see why you get a pass to bring this into synthetic worlds where it is far more lethal to the structure of the world itself.

The idea that we are also supposed to sit in games and worlds and suffer batters of griefing in the name of some Greater Glory that someone might be able to apply the lessons to fighting RL disease is just Bolshevik utilitarianism. You cannot do that to human beings.

These worlds are supposed to be better, not just mirrors. They aren't better, if they merely replicate in an even more virulent and destructive form the same forces of real life.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 8:37:35 AM | link

Cael says:

Ian: I guess it removes some of the usual stigma from prostitution. But really, when the carnival moves away, so do the jobs that follow it. Neither SL nor the carnival are Real Life.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 9:32:17 AM | link

Thomas Malaby says:

@Cael: That's an utterly political statement, not one that adds to our understanding of SL (or carnivals, for that matter). Yet again, SL's propensity to provoke polarized reactions gets in the way of good sense.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 9:52:06 AM | link

Fire Plus Fuel says:

Gangs are international, cross-platform, and they usually start off small with acts of vandalism and theft. Wouldn't that aptly describe W-Hat?

Posted Feb 5, 2007 10:28:51 AM | link

Steven "PlayNoEvil" Davis says:

Thank you, Mark.

The discussion of "meta guilds" and "alternate play" / "emergent play" / "griefing" are critically important in online games. Game developers need to consider these types of players and the freedom that the relative anonymity of online play provides.

Is griefing simply emergent play that some folks don't like?

Yes, griefing and online criminal behavior are problems. Yes, it is important to study them. Yes, it is unfortunate that some online games / virtual worlds do not manage these issues well.

However, at the end of the day, I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who set up businesses in a Virtual Beirut.

So, all here in favor of ending emergent game play? If not, how does one intelligently manage it?

I await the inevitable griefing (correction) detailed and thoughtful responses.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 10:48:35 AM | link

Ian Betteridge says:

Cael: "But really, when the carnival moves away, so do the jobs that follow it. Neither SL nor the carnival are Real Life."

Tell that to the people who work in the carnival - to them, of course it's real life. What you're claiming is that because SL looks a little like a game, it's of no more importance than a game. That's easily refuted, and I think I've done that.

Griefing in WoW is an irritant, but at the end of the day all it robs someone of is the opportunity to gain completely artificial tokens. SL gives you the chance to make real money, and - if you're good enough - even make a living. That means that griefing within SL natually has more "real world" consequences than WoW. It's not often I agree with Prokofy, but on that point at least she's right. I think her language is ludicrous, and part of a nasty extension of the use of "terrorist" to mean "any criminal who does things that I disagree with", but that's by the by.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 11:01:19 AM | link

Waxahachie says:

Sounds like Prokofy Neva is taking a computer game *way* too seriously.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 11:13:11 AM | link

Cael says:

Ian: oh yes, and Second Life is Real Life to Linden Labs and its employees. Everyone else in that game is basically like those barnacles that grown on whales. It might be a good living but it's doomed eventually.

I don't believe anyone not employed by Linden Labs made a long-term (i'd take 2 years as long term in this day and age) living wage from SL - or better yet, supported themselves entirely on Second Life activity. Happy to be proven wrong, but proof is a fun thing and i, like Clay Shirky, can read a balance sheet.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 11:57:05 AM | link

Matt Mihaly says:

Ian Betterridege wrote:

But that's the problem, Cael, and the key difference between Second Life and (say) WoW. For some people, SL is a vital part of their life, because it provides a significant chunk of their income.

That's such a straw man. How many people make a "significant chunk of their income" from Second Life who also have other income?

Linden's own stats (http://secondlife.com/whatis/economy_stats.php) say that in December 2006, not even 500 Second Life users managed to gross $1000 in that month. Pretty poor considering they brag on their front page about having "3 million residents."

Magnitudes more is being made by selling gold in WoW, and far FAR more people are making "a significant chunk of their income" (all of it in the case of many gold farmers), so let's not get our panties all twisted about Second Life somehow being "different" because a tiny percentage of their users make a couple hundred bucks a month from it.

--matt

Posted Feb 5, 2007 12:13:23 PM | link

Onder Skall says:

I don't know how I feel about them yet, and as one who has not yet been a victim of them it's possibly improper for me to say anything at all. I will say this: without them, it would be that much harder for us all to put things into context.

We all tend to be a little sensitive or sensationalist about things. When somebody takes a giant dump on our object of worship we get the option to either freak out or laugh about it.

Personally, I'm of the mind that the second is healthier.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 12:14:59 PM | link

says:

Punishment does not alter behavior. 1% of the US population is in prison. Is crime gone?

Smarten up. Punishment is mere spite without any real interest in a solution.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 12:22:20 PM | link

Pete says:

Prokofy, in reply to me:

"You're already revealing your hand as a typical W-hat zealot with your obvious noir, nihilist, and narf-narfing viewpoint, notorious and known to all, that a complex and evolving thing like Second Life is "just a pile of advertising" and "just money-sucking devices" with "a battery of lawyers" unless it is "purified" through "better-world-through griefing" tactics such as you applaud."

Bloody hell. I am not nor ever have been a somethingawful member, "goon", "w-hat" or suchlike. I don't have an SL account either. Stop throwing accusations around. Clearly I hit a nerve by being cynical and jaded about commercial online activity.

None of the stuff you complain about is new or in any way limited to Second Life. I'm a email administrator and I have to devote signifigant human and computer time to the tide of spam that comes my way. I used to use USENET, also an open sewer of spam, disruption, trolling, aggression, impersonation and defacement. This stuff happens all the time, and the authorities can basically only put a very small dent in a very small corner of it.

Also, merely impersonating someone online is not a crime. It's only a crime if it's done as part of a fraud, or it breaks your local computer security laws.

I'm not saying that nothing should be done about these people, I'm just saying that bans are appropriate and attempting to get them prosecuted is both an overreaction and a waste of time.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 12:38:45 PM | link

Pete says:

And while I'm here, to "" above:

Punshment can alter behaviour. People in prison are not committing crimes. People banned from an online game can't grief in it (although it appears that the really determined can still grief outside it).

Posted Feb 5, 2007 12:41:05 PM | link

Mark W says:

Well to try and get back on topic, there is actually a lot to learn from the Goon's and their meta guild.

They are a presence in almost every big MMO, but all Goon guilds are not equal. In Eve for example, where I know them from, they're a major political force who up until recently were looked down upon by most of the big players. But they're now the biggest single alliance in the game due to their skill in injecting massive amounts of new players into the game regularly and getting them involved straight in the heart of the PvP side of the game.

I'd pay good money to hear their leaders collective experience of how to organise a group of players that big into something cohesive. And what kind of tools they find useful in doing so. For example in Eve they use Teamspeak exclusively because Ventrillo can't handle the stress, despite the lower sound quality.

Also in Eve as far as I know they've never harassed and griefed anyone close to the level Prokofy describes, probably because the game mechanics exist to channel them into the PvP side of the game. Which they fling themselves at with enthusiasm as they enjoy upsetting the status-quo anywhere and everywhere.

Are there any other meta-guilds this size or close out there that we could compare them to?

Posted Feb 5, 2007 12:52:58 PM | link

says:

"People in prison are not committing crimes" ... uh, no, but they're that much more likely to come right on back and re-commit them. Was prison a solution in that case?

Likewise, banning in a world of free alt accounts is like putting a great big "kick me" sign on the SL universe.

Why don't we... I don't know... try something else besides flipping out and trying to smash the offending force away? It's fun to kill things in games because it's RIDICULOUS to think that problems are solved in the real world that way!

Posted Feb 5, 2007 12:59:02 PM | link

Ian Betteridge says:

Matt writes: "Linden's own stats (http://secondlife.com/whatis/economy_stats.php) say that in December 2006, not even 500 Second Life users managed to gross $1000 in that month. Pretty poor considering they brag on their front page about having "3 million residents."

Considering, though, that peak concurrency is only 30,000 that 500 looks a lot better. Plus don't forget that underneath that 500 there's a lot of people making in the $100-1000 USD range. Now that might not be a lot to you, but to some people it's a decent chunk of change. Like I say, I have personal experience of people for whom SL has replaced McJobs. For a virtual economy that's really only hit its stride in the past year, that's not bad going.

"Magnitudes more is being made by selling gold in WoW"

This is something of a red herring, given that selling gold in WoW is explicitly against the ToS. That, incidentally, is another reason why SL is a service in the same vane as the web, and not a game.

Mark W says: "I'd pay good money to hear their leaders collective experience of how to organise a group of players that big into something cohesive."

If there's one thing the above discussion has proved to me, it's that goons aren't cohesive. The comment by fofofo where he/she doubts that goons could be responsible for the griefing she has had shows that. The behaviour varies not just because of the "rules of the game" and what the game mechanics let them do, but according to the reaction to them and the individuals involved.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 1:32:24 PM | link

Mark Wallace says:

> Mark Wilkin: "I'd pay good money to hear their leaders collective experience of how to organise a group of players that big into something cohesive."

Thank you, Mark, this was just the point of the OP. My feeling is that their leaders don't need to do anything to organize them; what organization exists grows naturally out of the strong bonds that have formed on the forums, which in this case are somehow bonds of culture, not friendships struck. (Could some sociologist come in here with some technical terms? Also: The question of how to manage a large alliance in EVE is a different matter.) What I'm fascinated by is that their forum culture seems to be strong enough to be a cohesive force no matter what game they enter. And this is true across hundreds (thousands?) of people across maybe a dozen games or more. Why is that?

Posted Feb 5, 2007 2:20:30 PM | link

Nick says:

I think griefing in social games is great. The only reason I play online games, and I don't play them often, is to get interactions in the game environment that I can't get from a computer. If it makes the game better, or more interesting, or shows me something new, or gives me a chance to "meet" new people, then great. If it ruins the game, then I turn it off and look for a better one or do something else.

I think Prokofy is complaining about actions that fall into three categories:

In the first category are actions in the game which are possible given the software of the game (or virtual world), and do not violate any user agreements or applicable real world laws, but may violate the spirit of the game or some other ethical standards. These are the "groovy" exploits that make games playgrounds for emergent behavior or uncivilized cesspools of 3d animated genitalia and failed virtual businesses. Other than feeling angry, offended, sad, bitter, or whatever, Prokofy shouldn't have a problem with these things or any legal recourse to stop them because users of the games consent to the rules, choose to spend time and money on them, and have the right to quit the games at any time they want.

In the second category are actions in the game or the real world which change the way the game operates by hacking the code, slowing or crashing a server, tampering with other people's accounts, etc. The legality and ethics of actions in this category would have to be judged case by case. Game designers and server owners should take whatever technical or legal steps they can afford to protect their products from harm, and users should be careful about paying for software that may perform unsatisfactorily or dangerously. If those things are accomplished, then attempting to harm people's servers would be both illegal and hard. On the other hand, its possible that the benefits of allowing public tinkering and debugging in an open source or somewhat exposed system could outweigh the risks of damage from malicious hackers. It's good that Prokofy recognizes the harm done when servers are disrupted or crashed by hackers, just as it's good that society recognizes the harm done by skate boarders grinding up publicly owned benches and railings or doctors carving their initials on people's livers. The free market solution to the problem is to charge more for games and spend it hacker-proofing the servers. The policy solution is to enact and enforce anti-hacking laws until the cost of enforcement outweighs the benefit of decreasing hacking. After that, Prokofy can still try to convince hackers not to hack.

In the third category are actions in the game or the real world that do violate real world laws, in other words, crimes. I wish Prokofy the best of luck in prosecuting the creep that found his/her info online and talked to his/her kid on the phone. It's definitely a reminder to everyone that the internet is not a safe place and that we should all be careful with our information.

Prokofy is incorrect to think that all griefing is "criminal not cultural" because there are clearly ways to reduce someone's enjoyment of an experience, even an expensive experience, without being ethically or legally at fault. Athletes don't like to lose, but are considered bad sports if they blame their opponents, the crowd, or the weather. People in the movie theater who are disturbed by others might shush them, ask them to leave, or tell the management, but they shouldn't expect a court to force the theater or the talkers to reimburse them. A kid whose blocks get knocked over by a playmate isn't entitled to have the teacher rebuild the tower.

Prokofy said "These worlds are supposed to be better" than the real world. For a person who uses words like "lefties" and "Bolshevik", Prokofy seems to feel entitled to live in a very safe and controlled environment. I say, go for it Prokofy! Quit second life, or whatever you're playing, take your money and time and sink it into a heavily moderated game with good security, membership screening, or whatever measures make you comfortable, and do what you can to convince people that assets in that game are just as valuable as "real money" in second life. In real life, feel free to withdraw as far as you can afford to go from anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable or might subject you to the little cruelties and inconveniences that we all inflict on each other, or alternately feel free to be as pushy and self righteous with your opinions as you want and get used to people biting back at or ignoring you.

Luckily the world, and virtual worlds, and the people in them aren't ethically obliged to cater to your tastes.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 5:11:31 PM | link

JuJutsu says:

"Are there any other meta-guilds this size or close out there that we could compare them to?"

As of this afternoon The Older Gamers has 12,818 members in a batch of different countries (mostly north america or australia). Nothing like 90k though. It's a metaguild that spans 10 FPS games, 9 MMORPG's, 4 simulation forums and 4 strategy/rpg/other forums. Plus the public forums and in-house member forums.

As the name suggests it's an age based organization (25+ to join) that emphasizes low key fun. There are, of course, hardcore players but the general tenor is relaxed. Definitely low tolerance for violations of EULAs, NDA's etc (the FPS people in particular won't tolerate any speed hacks or anything like that).

Very strong forum culture. It gets reinforced by familarity - I play with people that I've played with in multiple games for several years.

Nothing at all like SA from the description given in the original post except for the zergling rushes. Using 'sploits or disrupting gameplay is a no-no.

You can check it out at

www.theoldergamers.com


Posted Feb 5, 2007 5:30:57 PM | link

Nobody Fugazi says:

Prok continues to describe the internet through SecondLife glasses. Everything that happens in SecondLife has an analog on the internet because virtual worlds are derived from the internet.

Perhaps the answer - if the sky is falling in the manner which Prok describes - is to continue the Luddite conundrum and vex one's self. Or maybe it is to lobby to dismantle the internet.

Everyone who wants to dismantle the Internet, please start with your own computer.

That is all. ;-)

Posted Feb 5, 2007 5:58:50 PM | link

Bart Stewart says:

I'm also curious about the larger structure of SA.

From the descriptions given, I see them fitting pretty neatly into my conjoined Bartle/Keirsey typology of player styles. In their case, they sound to me a lot like the Killer/Guardian type, whom I call the "Manipulators." These would be the folks who find rules painful, whose enjoyment comes from breaking the rules and getting away with it (or, even better, being lauded for it). Whether it's game rules or human social rules, the Manipulators look for ways to twist them -- not so much for serious advantage (like Achievers) as from the adrenaline rush of busting up other people's expectations.

Sounds very much like SA (as described here) to me.

Which brings up the interesting question: Does a group of such individuals impose rules on its members? Here's a group of people whose major similarity is an instinctive rejection of imposed rules, but the general path of social organizations is almost always to generate internal rules as they get bigger and live longer. So how can SA and such groups survive as groups, much less grow, if they're composed of people who hate rules?

My guess would be that there are a few charismatic individuals running the show, leading by example. (In other words, SA probably looks like Charles Handy's description of a "Power culture.") I would further guess that the groups like SA who've broken up have probably done so when a significant number of advantage-seeking Achievers joined up and started imposing internal rules. There's always conflict when a Power culture turns into a Role culture (which nearly always happens to successful organizations as they grow and live longer).

Is this anywhere near the mark? Or do SA and other rule-breaker organizations somehow also break the rules of classic organization theory?

--Bart

Posted Feb 5, 2007 6:16:25 PM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

>That said, I was never hugely tempted to join. Until now. Prokofy reminds me, by his very existence, just why Goons are needed. In fact, as soon as I get home, I'm going to hand over my money and stump up for an SA forum account. I'm well aware of the possibility for humiliation and grief that this involves, but really: Second Life is a game, Prok. Just not a very fun one. You're not doing something important. You're not forging something on the digital frontier.

See what I mean?

Posted Feb 5, 2007 10:15:08 PM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

>we should all be careful with our information.

Just to bat aside that all-to-common little hector/lecture, let me assure you that my private information was always that -- private. It was not put on a blog, given to people, put on a profile, or linked.

What you're underestimating is the power of people to stalk. People who vengefully stalked me first years ago in The Sims Online, were able to follow a complicated set of clues and then match them to other clues because they were malevolent, persistent, and determined. That's not ok. People who get stalked that viciously aren't "careless with their information," they are stalked.

And just because someone can link your avatar's name with your RL name through Google witch-hunting, and then have the nasty determination to call everyone in the phonebook with your name until they find you, doesn't mean that they are now "off the hook" from stalking and you are "careless with your information".


Posted Feb 5, 2007 10:20:14 PM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

>Prokofy said "These worlds are supposed to be better" than the real world. For a person who uses words like "lefties" and "Bolshevik", Prokofy seems to feel entitled to live in a very safe and controlled environment. I say, go for it Prokofy! Quit second life, or whatever you're playing, take your money and time and sink it into a heavily moderated game with good security, membership screening, or whatever measures make you comfortable, and do what you can to convince people that assets in that game are just as valuable as "real money" in second life. In real life, feel free to withdraw as far as you can afford to go from anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable or might subject you to the little cruelties and inconveniences that we all inflict on each other, or alternately feel free to be as pushy and self righteous with your opinions as you want and get used to people biting back at or ignoring you.

I think this discussion is definitely on target because the meta-game of criminally-minded extremists around games it to create networks of griefers who cause real harm. That *is* the game and they play it as hard as they can and *can* play it because there is always a crowd of cheer-leaders and minimizers like yourself to enable them.

People are *are* lefty and Bolshevik shouldn't feel exempt from being called that. And you're blurring many distinctions in your vindictive post, by saying that I'm calling "crime" something like mere petty TOS violations. For example, if someone shoots you in a safe zone, well, put your land on no-push or get a gun and fire back, don't call the police. That's obvious. And that's not what I'm talking about.

I honestly don't fear being called stupid, self-righteous, FUDded, "not on the Internet" or whatever other silly label is thrown at me merely for standing up for basic *liberal* human values that have to do with making an open society. The malevolencies being spawned by all these games and worlds are so little acknowledged and so little studied. Mark isn't interested in studying them. He's interested mainly in Eve Online. The challenge is how to get these SL griefers to go to Eve where they might actually have more fun.

Many people take that attitude that you can never challenge griefers as they will grief you more. As you can see here in this thread, there's at least one person planning to specifically join Second Life just to harass and grief me and engage in his busy-body mission to take down my "self-importance". I think it's a good exposure of the mentality.

It's hard to stand up to criminality. What happens with the conniving criminals of SL is that they endlessly pillory you, mock you, humiliate you, denigrate your points, etc. by posting under numerous alts and nicks. I fear not. I think it's important that someone stand up to real criminality.

Posted Feb 5, 2007 10:26:56 PM | link

Richard Bartle says:

Nobody Fugazi>Everything that happens in SecondLife has an analog on the internet because virtual worlds are derived from the internet.

Not true: virtual worlds predate the Internet. We didn't get a wide-area TCP/IP network until 1st January 1983 - we'd had virtual worlds for 4 years by then.

Richard

Posted Feb 6, 2007 3:51:44 AM | link

Cael says:

Richard:

Interesting thought though - imagine a distributed VW topology...

Posted Feb 6, 2007 4:14:12 AM | link

Endie says:

Prokofy Squealed in outrage:

"As you can see here in this thread, there's at least one person planning to specifically join Second Life just to harass and grief me and engage in his busy-body mission to take down my "self-importance". I think it's a good exposure of the mentality. "

Good Lord, man. I have no interest in harassing, griefing or even mildly pestering you. On the contrary, i think that you are a hilariously wonderful (as well as virtually instantaneous and exceptionally lengthy) addition to any discussion, and I would happily hire you as a blog troll.

My intention to join SA was provoked by your pomposity, but the point is just that they're a bunch of people with finely honed senses of humour who organise well in a lot of games I might play. Stop being such a narcissist and read my lips: I... don't... care... about... your... psychodrama.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 6:02:26 AM | link

Erillion says:

Meta Guilds are pretty common. If you have a bunch of people that work together well in one MMORPG and that enjoy each others company, you want to keep in touch, even if some or most of them move on to the next interesting MMORPG. Usually one stays in touch via websites that grow from one guild one game websites to multi game meta guild websites.

Its also a great way to hear first hand accounts from (closed) beta tests. People may have signed non-disclosure "contracts", but you usually can get the info from them on such private meta-guild websites.

Specifically about the Goonies, whom I am familiar with from SWG and EVE. Some may be creative, if somewhat eccentric people that are interesting to game with. Most that i have encountered will do their utmost to disturb any game they "invade". They will consciously try to disturb the roleplaying aspect of game worlds they join. They willingly and often use exploits or semi-exploits. They willingly and often use smack talk in the most offensive way possible (add your favorite real world racial/gender/religion/etc. slander in here). You may call this provocative, I call this "ugly". Now - i have not been in an in-game war with the Goonies. I know from others that IF you are in war with them, all the actions I mentioned above are used, but a magnitude more often or more drastic. In EVE the Goonies did come under serious attack by the most powerful PvP entity in the game (1500+ members) because they made fun of the real world death (by car accident) of a valued member of the other group.

A favorite tactics of the Goonies is infiltration and spying, followed by sabotage, in game theft and spreading misinformation. While this is annoying in EVE, its part of the game. I understand that in Second Life this is a greater problem.

It also does not stop at in game actions. Denial of service attacks, hacking and cracking Teamspeak servers is a known favorite of SOME Goonie members. In general : cyber crimes are perfectly ok to some (accepted !) members of that group.

That is IMHO the border that the Goonie meta guild has crossed which make them in my eyes "something awful".

Have fun

Erillion

Posted Feb 6, 2007 7:08:56 AM | link

Ken Fox says:

William Gibson or Walt Disney?

In cyberpunk literature all guilds are metaguilds. This seems like a safe prediction now -- look at the behavior of modern gaming guilds with their forums, DKPs, kill boards and Ventrilo servers. 30 years ago it was a fresh and interesting idea.

WoW strongly resembles Disney World. EVE and SL have a stronger cyberpunk metaverse influence. All of these worlds have strong metaguilds, so I don't think there's any correlation between designer intent and player organization.

Mark's questions (and Prokofy's responses) for me really boil down to: Is it acceptable that world owners intentionally create the conditions for danger and crime? How much closer to Gibson's dystopian metaverse will virtual worlds move?

SL seems to have that as the ultimate goal.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 9:31:33 AM | link

Erillion says:

Second Live + Google Earth = The Matrix (in its "Shadowrun" or "Snowcrash" Cyberpunk sense).

Now imagine the following scenario. In the USA students already play real life "Pacman" on the campus of their university. They are wearing cybergoogles that let them see the real world , but the old pacman grid can be seen over the real world picture. Including the pacman food pills. Other students are depicted as ghosts that want to kill Pacman. Thats how it started. And in the future (maybe):

Step 1) smaller cyber-googles (not motorcycle helmet size, but like modern sunshades, with a small laser for head up display info - already in use in civilian life)
Step 2) reality filter ... puts the grafic filter of your choice over the real picture. E.g. houses from Second Life over the real world houses. Second Life avatars wandering the streets in addition to real people. With their convos streaming down in a chat window in your head up display. Or every house seen in the look of your choice (e.g. Batman Gotham city gothic style, with grey sky and additional gargoyles on every house).

Imagine the present: Goths are wearing black and have white painted faces. A typical subculture. Imagine the future: not only do you see them the way they want you to see them, but THEY now see YOU the way they WANT to see you. Through a reality filter of their choice.

Imagine a meta guild developing their way of looking at the world. And applying THEIR reality filter to the real world. A new subculture, spawned by the internet and MMORPGs.

Its only a few increments of computing power away.

Erillion

Posted Feb 6, 2007 10:37:23 AM | link

Mark Wallace says:

Read Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End for a fully fleshed-out vision of your vision, Erillion.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 11:33:28 AM | link

Cael says:

I'm pretty sure the Matrix had more than about 30 people present in one place. In fact, if i'm not mistaken there were more than 30 Agent Smiths present in one place during a certain scene.

Second Life is a) not the Matrix b) not a part of the Matrix c) not a financial opportunity d) not stable e) not efficient f) not capable of providing any service of benefit to people not available elsewhere in a better implemented form g) not a game according to its prophets and evangelists...

I would also add h) not a "world" since it has no consistent physical environmental laws, but some people disagree as is their right.

So what is it? A platform for creativity, pomposity and sexual frustration and deviance? I can understand that one not being commonly quoted by Philip Rosedale.

The Goons however, recognise this extremely clearly - and the greater grow the pomposity and the hype, the more active one should expect them to become.

NOTE: I am not a member of the SA forums, nor am i in any of their guilds. I really hope they decide to play the game i'm working on as i can think of no better system testers. Watching the Goons crash my server and finding out how they did it might prove more immediately beneficial than every thoughtful academic argument i've ever read.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 12:04:48 PM | link

JuJutsu says:

"I really hope they decide to play the game i'm working on as i can think of no better system testers. Watching the Goons crash my server and finding out how they did it might prove more immediately beneficial than every thoughtful academic argument i've ever read."

Be very careful what you wish for Cael...

Posted Feb 6, 2007 12:30:51 PM | link

Adam says:

Dear Prokofy.

Shut the fuck up.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 1:44:37 PM | link

Jairbrekr says:

My dearest Prokofy,

Please go outside. You are taking the internet too seriously. It seems that you have blurred the lines between what is real, and what is not. Instead of calling for the persecution of the W-Hats (oops, I meant to say prosecution, me bad), you should instead focus on professional help to assist you in dealing with what reads as an apparent break from reality. There are drugs to assist you with this type of mental illness.

Lol cyber rape lol.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 1:51:22 PM | link

Zapato says:

I just want to point out that not all Goons are created equally. I've been a forums member for about 3 years now. I've also played something like 10 different MMO's at various times. I've never been in a Goon MMO guild or group. They generally don't play the same way I do- I tend to play no more than 5 hours a week, I have no interest in PVP, and I generally am more interested in playing with my 2 or 3 friends that happen to play the same game, than with 2 or 3 thousand people who belong to the same (enormous) community as I do.

I'd also like to point out to Prok:
I don't really pay any attention to SL, and I don't have the data you claim to, but even if your numbers are completely accurate, 25 (banned) griefers divided by 90780 forums members equals... approximately 0.002%? Oh. Yes. EVERY SINGLE Goon is out to personally get you, Prok.


By the way, last time I checked, use of Google is not illegal. Neither is use of the telephone system.

If you don't like the attitude of SL members and staff, stop playing (or, since it's 'not a game', living) it. Is anyone holding a gun to your head?

Posted Feb 6, 2007 1:57:07 PM | link

Nick says:

Prokofy,

From your e-mail I guess that you or someone you know is bringing a civil lawsuit (not criminal charges) against another person who harassed them both in game and in real life, and your main point is that you want to make sure that you/they get damages for the in game harassment as well as the real life harassment?

Is that an accurate characterization of what you are trying to say?

Posted Feb 6, 2007 2:19:37 PM | link

Ian Betteridge says:

Cael says: "Second Life is... not a financial opportunity d) not stable e) not efficient f) not capable of providing any service of benefit to people not available elsewhere in a better implemented form..."

Of course, many of these arguments were also made about the web. A web forum is less "efficient" than a text-only one accessed via telnet (I still miss my Well terminal access).

Efficiency, though, is not the goal of a social medium, and it's not what attracts people to either the web or SL. What both give is a greater depth of experience than the "more efficient" media that predate them.

"So what is it? A platform for creativity, pomposity and sexual frustration and deviance? I can understand that one not being commonly quoted by Philip Rosedale."

And thus, it reflects real non-virtual life, with which it share all those characteristics. And, come to think of it, it shares all those characteristics with the web too. So what exactly *is* your point, Cael? :)

"The Goons however, recognise this extremely clearly - and the greater grow the pomposity and the hype, the more active one should expect them to become."

But that's the point that you're missing: there is nothing pompous about the people that play SL, any more than there is anything pompous about someone using the web. It's a tool for socialising, working, and having fun. It's an extension of "real" life, not a replacement for it.

Not referring to you personally here, Cael, but I do find it incredibly funny that there's a bunch of people sitting in front of their computers answering this thread and telling other people to stop using their computers and get outside. Particularly since the readership of this blog is hardly the most likely group to be going out and "getting a life". :)

Posted Feb 6, 2007 2:23:11 PM | link

Allen Sligar says:

Well isnt this interesting.

My only conclusion after reading this entire thread is that SL obviously needs carebear servers to protect peoples property from griefers, possibly with a locked down code base and no scripting tool (or maybe a tiered subscription based tool)???

I say this in jest of course, you signed up for a VW with a real economy that plays to the strengths of coders (I wont use hakers in the derogotory because its not a derogotory term as used here at TN), whose various political bent ranges from mildly open source to anarchist. So seriously dont be suprised when property is destroyed and people distrupt the platform based on thier belief that its being co-oped by marketers.

I've logged into SL 4-5 times and I could intuit that from less than 7 hours in that VW just porting around, it's not rocket science that its a place that would appeal to a certain crowd.

@Prok

I dont think everyone on TN is a lefty.....certainly there are a few crazy libertarians around here as well....:)

All that said I belong the a so called "meta guild" and have for 10+ years, and its PVP oreinted, which is why PVP servers are a good thing, people sign up and buy into the rule set from the outset. This is distinct and different from griefing, which confuses many people.

There are many examples that could be given, but one should suffice:

A pvper will engage you and win/lose and move on.

A griefer will kill you while your fighting something else, gank you then corpse camp you for an hour.

Anyhow I didnt realize so many TN people were carebears :)~~ <----standard PVP insult included for your enjoyment.

Also, really I think some of you are repressing your inner PVP'er. I mean if Robin Williams enjoys laying down headshots as a sniper in CS whats stopping you? :)

Posted Feb 6, 2007 2:46:19 PM | link

Linda Polin says:

way, way, way back there, someone said So, all here in favor of ending emergent game play? If not, how does one intelligently manage it?

I recall a similar discussion in the early days of LambdaMOO. At that time, the Pavel Curtis and others came down on the side of "let the inmates run the asylum" er, I mean, let the inhabitants govern themselves. Thus began the board elections and petitions and newsletters. The management of the emergent play in a fairly open system for play became part of the play. (Of course, for some it made it more interesting, for others it mattered not a whit. IRL some ppl vote and some don't.)

Perhaps an interesting question here is when does an emergent play issue hit the tipping point and become worthy of world response?

Posted Feb 6, 2007 3:18:20 PM | link

Cael says:

Ian: I'm not telling anyone to go outside, really! That would be crazy, i want them to stay in and play my game at least some of the time. But for pomposity, i recommend the comments of Second Life players - note that, PLAYERS - above.

I agree that the Web offered nothing in particular of benefit compared to earlier forms of interaction except an interface which lends itself to branding and of course, point-and-drool usage suitably for the least technically capable users - the ones it's easy to sell to.

However, the web was a simplification. Second Life is a massive complication. For that reason above all, it's a dead end.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 3:52:59 PM | link

Nick says:

Prokofy,

Your last e-mail made it clear that you are not talking about any real lawsuits.

Are you trying to say that if a person were being sued for real life harassment, they could also be held liable for in game harassment?

(feel free to respond here and ignore the e-mail)

Posted Feb 6, 2007 4:02:13 PM | link

SA's Member says:

Prokofy ejaculated:

What you're underestimating is the power of people to stalk. People who vengefully stalked me first years ago in The Sims Online, were able to follow a complicated set of clues and then match them to other clues because they were malevolent, persistent, and determined. That's not ok. People who get stalked that viciously aren't "careless with their information," they are stalked.

-------------

I've played several years total between WoW, EQ, and TSO. I've been very high profile; involved in guild drama, a guild leader of hugely popular guilds that broke down, and so on and so forth. I've never been SERIOUS BUSINESS INTERNET STALKED as you were. I think I may have stumbled upon why it is happening to you.

It's because you act like a prick at the slightest provocation, and take Second Life as seriously as the real world. Something Awful members can be banned for organizing denial of service attacks like the ones you mentioned. And I think I risk flaming by saying this, but if you're complaining about real life profit loss due to cyber-vandalism in SECOND LIFE, I think you're being ridiculous. If Second Life is your primary source of income, then you're a waste to society, since your entire existence would be supported by adding nifty little widgets to a mediocre MMO, without direct association with the development team. If it's not, then you have every right to complain about having your code vandalized as I do about losing money in an online poker room to someone who is using an odds calculator.

THE INTERNET IS SERIOUS BUSINESS, and you sir, seem to be leading the charge to make griefing in a GAME a felonious offense. I salute you for how far you've managed to have your panties shoved up your arse.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 5:19:09 PM | link

SA's Member says:

Prokofy, I seem to have done you a disservice. I assumed you were an internet male, but it seems that you are internet female; and therefore, I amend my last line:

THE INTERNET IS SERIOUS BUSINESS, and you, madame, seem to be leading the charge to make griefing in a GAME a felonious offense. I salute you for how far you've managed to have your panties shoved up your arse, without disturbing the centipedes.

You can thank SomethingAwful.com for correcting me as to your gender.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 5:23:56 PM | link

SA's Member says:

Ian said:

But that's the point that you're missing: there is nothing pompous about the people that play SL, any more than there is anything pompous about someone using the web. It's a tool for socialising, working, and having fun. It's an extension of "real" life, not a replacement for it.

-------------------------------------------

It's just as idiotic to lament cyber vandalism in Second Life as it would be for a gold farmer in World of Warcraft to complain about someone undercutting their auctions and jeopardizing their major source of income.

Something Awful doesn't ridicule people for using the internet a lot - most of us do that. We ridicule people who take themselves too seriously. We ridicule people who take the internet too seriously.

If you visit Something Awful's forums, you'll realize there are a lot of things that ARE taken seriously: discrimination, child predation, and black-hat hacking to name a few. We may joke about some of those points, but if someone in our community goes beyond satire, they are quickly ostracized.

That considered, the number of goons ridiculing Prokofy is no surprise - she's on the warpath, calling goons "criminal," because she's experienced some monetary losses in a game due to griefing.

When, in World of Warcraft, I got ganked for hours straight, I was losing time off my subscription, and so was losing money as a consequence. I was furious, but I would never have called the gankers criminal, because I realized that it was a game.

The ridicule directed at Prokofy is due to her unwillingness or inability to make this concession. Say that goons are annoying, say that you hate us, but when you try to argue that our intarwebs activities are criminal, you just make yourself look like a total putz. Visit the SomethingAwful frontpage, and look at historical legal threats against the community.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 5:42:56 PM | link

barborak says:

ummm ok I didn't read this but goon squad is a-ok

Posted Feb 6, 2007 6:15:14 PM | link

barborak says:

did I post I don't like this website ;_;!!!

Posted Feb 6, 2007 6:16:09 PM | link

barborak says:

I think I broke it idk

Posted Feb 6, 2007 6:18:08 PM | link

SA's Member says:

tl;dr

Posted Feb 6, 2007 6:32:13 PM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

Nick,

Stop stalking me in off-list email, and stop feigning denseness. No one can accept any of your comments in good faith; they are made like Eddie Haskell's comments and are completely disingenuous. You're making a game, a sport of trying to word-salad, of trying to mince meaning.

I've already explained, several times, that real damages and RL offenses are real crimes deserving of real lawsuits.

Griefing in a game that causes loss of US dollars in income is indeed a real-life crime. It's not about a helm or a sword; it's about an account with hundreds of US dollars. In fact, what Anshe should have done, instead of that curious gambit of trying to claim that there was "copyright theft" involved in her penising by W-hat, was to have claimed damages -- her high-profile event, a CNET interview, with many viewers, etc. was ruined and disrupted, and her business and her persona in SL was associated all over the news with obscenity. It's real damages. She should have pursued that as a case, not tried to make the media like the Sydney Morning Herald "take down" an image that was "copyrighted" -- that wasn't at issue at all, and only led to self-righteous anger on the part of the media because she had absolutely no case.

In fact, CNET should have called up LL and demanded to put this incident in with the investigation into the activities of this same group which is ostensibly going on. My God, it's been a year now, and we have heard no news of its continued existence, and no proof that it proceeds. In RL, criminal cases don't work that way; only in a situation of child abuse do you get that sort of "we can't disclose details of the investigation as that would harm the investigatino itself". At this point, it's more like a cover-up.

What recourse do you have when a RL company will not pursue its own case? You can only hope for moral condemnation by the community -- not an easy thing to do when most people will excuse anything in the name of their libertarianism.

As anybody can see from the atrocious display here, these people have no morals or scruples, and think nothing of using someone's transgender status in SL as a means to ridicule them, and think nothing of outing their RL as a means to humiliate them, and take joyful, malicious glee in trying to scream "Internet is Serious Business" and all that other crap that they always scream. It's not a game, it's a form of harassment. That is, they treat it as a game, and Mark Wallace gets all thinky and even giddy at the prospect of making a high-profile fancy Terra Nova essay about their antics, but all he and other apologists for this "grief-as-game" notion, and all the other moral relativists nodding and egging on people who do this are diong are fueling them enormously, and forming the substrate that makes it possible for them to go on.

No, it would likely be a good thing if someone with the wealth, resources, and stamina to do it to take on these little fuckers and nail them to the wall for real, actual, true damages they have caused. They have indeed caused damages. They are real. They do have consequences. And people who applaud this, minimize it, apologize for it, write papers about it, laugh at it -- they are all accomplices, for sure.

People who stop an entire grid of thousands of simulators from working for 24 hours, or 48 hours; people who destroy even a mere $100 US building or mere $25 US item in SL are doing damages. That's what it's about. It's not about shooting in a game, it's not about "damages" in the World of Warcraft or Pokemon card sense; it's about real-life losses.

There's no question that Anshe has suffered a loss, when she is forced to sit on a sim where she thought in good faith she'd be giving an interview, and then suddenly be bombarded with penises. This isn't like a pie in the face; this is a penis in the face. It's really that much worse. And when it's constantly replayed and becomes part of the "lore," it's the gift that keeps on giving, just like the people who outed my RL gender and maliciously connected my RL and my Sl against my will, without my consent, and without my *putting any links up* (contrary to popular belief) are a gift that "keeps on giving" and does real damage.

Pete, you behave just like the infamous "Petey" of SA, and you cite all the same thinking. If you are not technically a member of SA, you partake of the same nihilist spirit.

It doesn't matter if the statistics of Second Life only show 500 people who make more than $1000 US (I think it's less even). Nor does it matter if real-life terrorists are a completely different order of magnitude and scale than a game or world, duh. It's more than fine -- indeed MANDATED -- to *reason by analogy* in trying to analyze these worlds, and in trying to figure out just what is being created when the groundwork of this Metaverse is being laid.

Seriously, I will defend my right to reason by analogy to the death here.

It will scale up and grow very fast. It will become much more valuable in terms of dollars. It will become much more meshed with real life in ways that are perilous to think of.

If you accept the noir nihilists and griefers now, what are you to do when you use a Second-Life-like tool to have a remote-control operation on a real live human being? What if virtuality becomes disruptable but lives depend on it? People have died because of the misreading of the scanners or video screens that are connected to their medical treatment. What if griefing and the inability to confront and deal with it, a griefer-centric permissive attitude leads to the inability to ever make virtuality a part of medical treatment?

Seriously, if you are going to posit all these "Better World" type things of Second Life, as the Lindens do, you really need to come to grips with the question of what is really "better".

Let's return to Mark's questions:

"That profile line is very telling: For the Goons, it's Goon culture that comes first, and game culture a not-very-close second. Is this somehow a failing of the games currently available? Is it a mark of how strong the SA culture actually is?"

If you read the latest New Yorker piece about the home-grown terrorist who fought in Afghanistan, the author talks a lot about the group cohesion and "one of the guys" stuff that is a vital component to terrorists' functioning. So yes, culture is more important than the game itself. The sense of cameraderie fills something evidently missing elsewhere.

>Outrageousness aside, is this a desirable condition for a meta-guild? If so, is it something developers could build for or seek somehow to promote? Or would that merely extend the boundaries, and necessitate even more creativity from those who will always seek to bring something more to a virtual world than the world itself could ever offer?"

Mark's fascination with "Goon culture" is of course repulsive not only on the face of it, but upon any cursory examination, as I've tried to give it here. How could he EVER conceive of meta-guild-griefing aws "bringing something more to a virtual world"? In making it more interesting to analysts who like to probe delinquency because its fascinating???

I hope flushing it out here as I have, helps people to see the problem.

With this "something better" concept, Mark evidently thinks that meta-guilds and meta-culture is "reformable" or "transformable" or some hydraulic relationship might be set up where they will come to one world, and get bored and grief, and come to another world, that is better made and more clever, and have fun and be creative -- the desire for cultural meta-ing will be easily turned to good. Huh? This is part of the fallacy driving Philip Linden's thinking, at least circa 2005, when he said in the famous interview with the Herald, that people wouldn't grief, because they'd have all these creative outlets in Second Life. I've not yet read any updating on his thinking there today; judging from his actions, all he does now is invent ever new tools and ever new patches to discourage griefing.

In Sims Online, gloving people -- catching them and redlining them unawares, while they were AFK, or not fast enough, etc. -- was a game. It was fun for many people. If you didn't like it, well, you had to avoid frequenting those joints where you'd be gloved, and avoid the glovers, and also not fuss about it (as the gloves wore off if you didn't get re-gloved in a few days).

Second Life is different. It is open-ended. There aren't rules. And people use it for many, many different things. It's not wrong, or incorrect, or "taking the Internet too seriously" as these latter-day Puritanical witch-hunters say about people who do something they don't like on Second Life.

Some people collected gloves so that they had deep red "balloons" on their profile that terrified anyone who clicked on them (as they saw they were bad characters whom were gloved). That is, just as in some ghetto highs schools, bad is good, and playing dumb is being smart. In a game, the bad is good; in real life, it's rightly recognized as a dysfunction.

The banality of nasty griefing that you see here, and which I and others experience, isn't a good. It's not a game. It's not part of pushing the envelope of the tools. It's not creative. It's only one thing: experiencing malicious glee at the misfortune of others. You can't rescue this by saying, oh, it's about culture, identity, branding, interacting with the technology, or whatever highfalutin label you put on it.

If griefing occured as a byproduct of testing the limits of prim production; if making interesting replicating flowers and studying organic life sometimes got out of control and crashed the grid, that's the sort of meta game play that people might appreciate in the long run.

But that's NOT what we're talking about. We're talking about the banality of evil here. We're talking about particle rains of the tub-girl just becaue they can, and just to make people experience the awful ugliness and be forced out of someone's rental homes, in order to destroy their business. It's conscious and deliberate, like terrorism.

I don't fear AT ALL any facile equations between real life terrorism and simulated terrorism in a game because I've experienced both. Trust me, I know the difference between 9/11 in New York City, and the loss of a $1.50 US a month tenant.

But the mechanisms, engines, springs, attitudes, methods, results -- they are the same. "As above, so below," said the ancients. There is every reason to study this very, very carefully and deeply.

What could game makers do to respond to this phenomenon? Mark seems to make the point that only those games that allow for a great deal of fraud and crime, like Eve Online, can be flexible enough and capaciousness to make these metastasizing malicious meta-guilds stick, and be engaged for awhile. So what, we should all buy gift certificates for goons to go play Eve? What is the policy recommendation that grows out of the reality that "fraud is fun?"

Another tactic is to make griefing dull -- turn off push, remove the gloving (like Ea.com with the Sims), take off negrates (as the Lindens did in SL), etc. etc.

All that causes is an arms race -- take away push, then the new game is to send harassment friend offers a million times, etc.

Ultimately, I think it has to work like the different methodologies that work with real-life crime and prevent real-life impunity, and not be seen as a zero-sum "let's figure out how to distract the toddler" sort of game. Prosecution and upholding of the rights of the victim matter. Naming names matters and works. Solving "broken windows" problems early works.

Unfortunately, the Lindens have followed this liberal tactic, often urged in situations of impunity that are out of control, of not publicizing what they are doing or not doing visa-visa this FBI investigation, about which we've heard so little, that some bloggers have concluded that it's fake.

They could have gone the opposite direction, and held weekly press conferences, even drawing in RL politicians and having solidarity groups and demonstrations and raising media awareness. They didn't. And that's because I think they are in a blue team and red team game too, and the software production has become more important to them in that game than the world and the people in it.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 7:59:08 PM | link

Webbill says:

Exactly how much money have you lost as a direct result of in game activity?

If the real life stalking is as bad as you say then why haven't you involved the police?

Posted Feb 6, 2007 8:30:08 PM | link

Bill O'Reilly says:

SHUT UP

Posted Feb 6, 2007 9:14:49 PM | link

a moose lol says:

Prokofy, please post tits tia.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 9:20:22 PM | link

JuJutsu says:

@Ian
""The Goons however, recognise this extremely clearly - and the greater grow the pomposity and the hype, the more active one should expect them to become."

But that's the point that you're missing: there is nothing pompous about the people that play SL, any more than there is anything pompous about someone using the web. It's a tool for socialising, working, and having fun. It's an extension of "real" life, not a replacement for it."

Lots of people argue that game forums aren't much use because they are populated by trolls while the people that enjoy the game play instead of post. It may be true that the people who play SL aren't pompous; the problem is that those people aren't the ones pumping hype to the media or spamming fora with the crisis de jour.

I'm now in the unintended [and undesirable] mindset of Second Life = Prokofy Neva. My new criteria for blog threads is "Time to Prok". The smaller the estimate the less I want to even read it.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 9:48:22 PM | link

"The Infamous Petey Of SA" says:

"Stop stalking me in off-list email"

This is why no one takes you seriously. Because you consider any contact, other than that which you specifically approve, to be stalking. Because you consider mild acts of griefing to be the moral equivalent of child pornography. Because you consider a website with 90k members of diverse interests to be a "substrate of terrorism." And because you take a hyperbolic video game so very, very seriously.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 10:05:49 PM | link

Liface says:

HAHAHAHAH. Wait. Take a step back from your computer for a second. You're talking about a VIDEO GAME.

p.s. post tits

Posted Feb 6, 2007 10:14:39 PM | link

says:

PROK is an anagram of PORK coincidence????

Posted Feb 6, 2007 10:15:55 PM | link

NO. says:

Liface, it's not even a video game. It's a 3D chatroom for fucking furries.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 10:18:20 PM | link

Goon says:

Goon gooned my goony goon goon in the goon? [goon]

Posted Feb 6, 2007 10:19:18 PM | link

Scudmunkey Impfondo says:

So Prok, how are you able to rush to the comments section of a blog so quickly to spew your vitriol? I don't understand this magical internet stuff so you have to enlighten me.

P.S. Post Tits

Posted Feb 6, 2007 10:28:11 PM | link

Nick says:

Prokofy,

I sent you three e-mails at an address you included in a public post at someone else's website asking you to clarify what you were talking about. You responded to all three of my e-mails despite saying that you didn't wish to, failed to accept my comments in good faith, assumed my interest in your post to be prurient and malicious, called me a presumptuous ass, a fucktard, whiney, nagging, nasty, and told me to piss off.

This is what you consider "stalking" and "hounding".

I apologize to TerraNova for not googling Prokofy before responding the first time.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 10:29:08 PM | link

says:

Shut up prok.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 10:51:18 PM | link

Eric says:

SECOND LIFE IS A GAME

SHUT UP

Posted Feb 6, 2007 10:53:52 PM | link

Mark Wallace says:

You mis-read me, Prok. I'm not asking whether griefing is a desirable condition. I'm asking whether having a strong culture in a meta-guild is a desirable condition.

Let's take the question as it applies to meta-guilds that are not focused on griefing. If a meta-guild has a culture of *benign* emergent gameplay that it manages to bring to all the games it is present in, what does that tell us about those games / that meta-guild / MMO culture in general, etc.? Is that somehow a good thing? Is it just neat and not worthy of much deeper examination? What makes that culture so strong? Those and similar questions are the ones I was trying to raise here. I'm certainly wasn't trying to argue in favor of griefing in the OP.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 11:07:08 PM | link

CainFortea says:

Those posts are worthless prok without tits.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 11:08:57 PM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

No, Mark, you're claiming that culture is uber alles, and I'm explaining that the culture is evil at the root, as it is based on a criminal natuture, and is built on cohesion at the expense of others, joining together precisely over the issue of taking glee in other's misfortune. Other posters here have spelled out very clearly that ganking is about power over other people, and enjoying having that power over other people. That IS the culture, Mark, and you have to see that, surely.

If you have to rescue something positive out of this ugly culture, based on enjoying having power over other human beings, then I have to call you on that as suspect. It's strong, so it's good? But it's strong because having power over other people is a great glue to make a group with. So this is progress? why?

You *are* arguing in favour of griefing even by taking up this entire line of inquiry around the Goons, and not all meta-guilds.

And let's face it. What fun is a meta-guild that is about helping noobies or cleaning up sandboxes after others who litter? Some get very involved in those sorts of "guilds," but at the end of the day, those, too, are about superiority, enhacing reputation, and feeling power over others by feeling more virtuous over them.

Meta-guilts might indeed always be malignancies, I don't know, I haven't studied them enough. They may be the rootless cosmopolitans of the Metaverse, Mark, unthered to land or nation. Beware!

Posted Feb 6, 2007 11:33:24 PM | link

Nobody Fugazi says:

"Not true: virtual worlds predate the Internet. We didn't get a wide-area TCP/IP network until 1st January 1983 - we'd had virtual worlds for 4 years by then.

-- Richard Bartle.

OK, Richard. Yet the modern virtual worlds are derived from the internet. Of course, if you wish to continue your disagreement and return to 1983 - that's on you. ;-)

Posted Feb 6, 2007 11:36:41 PM | link

says:

I jerked off to this internet page. Seriously.

Posted Feb 6, 2007 11:41:37 PM | link

Captain Butt says:

I feel sorry for your kids, having such a crazy, neglegent mother. :(

Posted Feb 6, 2007 11:48:53 PM | link

finx says:

less yakkity yak more tits plz

Posted Feb 6, 2007 11:56:06 PM | link

Nobody Fugazi says:

Cult. Culture.

SA culture - for better or worse, and the amusing things in between - is a manner for players to persist identities across virtual worlds. They do so vicariously if they must. It is nothing new. Richard Bartle was quick to point out that virtual worlds had been around for 4 years by then - but they'd actually been out about 9 years before then in the guise of D&D (which was first published in 1974 by TSR). What was lacking was a means to connect in a meaningful way; arguably this is still the case. Would that things worked and been meaningful in 1974 or 1983, things would not have changed so much.

The internet would not have been the boon that it has been for virtual worlds - and the influential baggage that gets tossed out with statements which do not include the role of the internet in virtual worlds is, perhaps, old. Which laws govern the internet which do not apply to virtual worlds on the internet? And what in modern virtual worlds does not have an analog on the internet?

Cults, tribes, cultures... we can toss out virtual worlds on this one. Usenet had them and networked them in ways that made the D&D worlds drool with envy so much that they slipped onto the internet as well.

Griefing... exists without the internet. But it was much more difficult to grief when a human dungeon master could simply give you the boot. Even then, there were rules - and those rules were defined - then - by someone whose authority came from people who placed that authority in them. It is not unlike any social 'invention'; all primates do it - even the ones with keyboards. Griefing is a lot like trying to mount other monkeys.

Griefing is not good, but it is a reality. Even when posting responses, some will post extremely verbosely in an attempt to drown out other voices. In a way that is griefing. Of course, some buckle under the sheer weight of the letters - and perhaps that is the point. It is that the squeakiest wheel often gets the oil instead of getting replaced. No wonder Iraq was invaded.

That said, I wouldn't say that gameplay of this sort is emergent. It emerged long ago. I would say that it is evolving. Amusingly, even as the griefers go mainstream - they lose griefing ability. Recognition of griefers - which they typically crave - is their undoing. It reminds me a lot of 'The Rebel Sell'. As things become mainstream, the meaning they have changes. Remember when alternative music wasn't mainstream? Remember when wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt meant supporting something instead of rebeling against something? The quaint coffeehouses of yesterday have been Starbucked into the 21st Century.

My point is... this too shall pass. :-)

Posted Feb 7, 2007 12:05:21 AM | link

says:

also second life was fun for about five minutes, my friend and i made a happy meal assault squadron and we flew around in a giant hamburger but then all these nerds and furries got all mad because i was blocking their view of the elf-mermaids or some shit and so we left

come to think of it that game was kinda faggy

Posted Feb 7, 2007 12:05:35 AM | link

Just another goon says:

Man, Prok - pass some of those digital crackrocks you are smoking, or at the very least GET SOME THERAPY. Your insistance that these are RL crimes is laughable, SL is just a video game. It is not some Brave New Frontier of the glorious INTARWEB FUTURE. Linden Labs realized that the secondary market in game-dollars for real-dollars is HUGE.

Your logic seems to suggest that if I repeatedly kill Peter Paladin on Generic-Fantasy-MMO preventing him from farming Uber-Sword01, which he was intending to turn around and sell for RL money on an auction site - that I am now a criminal because I am causing him damages in 'real US dollars'. THIS IS CRAZY TALK.

Perhaps, a more benign analogy - My friends and I are players in Generic-Fantasy-MMO, We have a lock-down on the parts required to make Super-Sword basically requiring anyone who wants to be able to make Super-Sword to beg, buy or steal them from us. Stealing is not possible, we are not very benevolent, but we sell them to you at a greatly inflated price. These swords sell very well and we keep strong regulation on how frequently they hit the market, retaining their high value and in turn making us lots of cash! Does this make us a cartel? Should we be charged with real world crimes? If you are nodding your head yes, you are utterly delusional.

These are video games, these are things played for pleasure - any real-life cash benefit you get out of them is simply a nice added bonus. Looking at video games as a source of income is as about as bright as seeing the casino or race track as a valid investment strategy.

For fuck's sake. Get a clue.

Posted Feb 7, 2007 12:31:50 AM | link

fofofofo says:

fofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofofo

Posted Feb 7, 2007 1:12:52 AM | link

Prokofy Neva says:

In a way that is griefing. Of course, some buckle under the sheer weight of the letters - and perhaps that is the point. It is that the squeakiest wheel often gets the oil instead of getting replaced. No wonder Iraq was invaded.

This sort of thing is pretty damn contemptible but something we've come to expect from the noisome Nobody. It implies that when I, an American, am standing up to griefers here, countering them word for word (there's a lot of them, and nobody else is taking them on, except for Thomas' very feeble "well gosh, kids, if your fun is interfering with other people's fun, why, that's no fun!"), then why, I'm endorsing the invasion of Iraq.

I'm the one who is supposed to be chastised for equating cyber-terrorism or cyber-rape ostensibly with RL crimes, and yet here's Nobody, ready to accuse somebody who writes a long post to rebut griefers of *being responsible for the invasion of Iraq*

!!!

I condemn the invasion of Iraq, and every day, try to do something about it in real life. What do YOU do?

Seriously, it's not a form of griefing to stand up to griefers. More people should do it.

For fuck's sake yourself "Just another goon," don't think such facile, deliberate, malicious misreading of posts can get by on a place like TN where the people are all 10 times smarter than you.

And ditto to you, "Nick" who is haranguing me off-list in email.

I don't say that getting swords and helms or thwarting swords or helms is a real life crime. To attribute that to me is to engage in the bloody-minded criminality that is the goon culture, which as we so often see, inevitably does lead to the real life crime of grid-crashing.

I've listed the REAL LIFE CRIMES that I mean, and they are not things like jousting with a virtual sword, and you know it full well, you just chose to be a dick.

These crimes include

o denial of service attacks
o destruction of property valued properly in real US dollars
o stalking in RL
o identify theft

These are all well documented. Dancing around and trying to blur the distinction here and say OMGZORZ Prok is insane talking people in a video game killing an orc as committing a crime is a lie, is said in bad faith, is deliberate misinformation, and is just all part of the conspiracy.

Thomas, I really think you need to take a look at this. Take a look at it *closely*.

For fuck's sake, goons, your Puritanical witch-hunting and Inquisitions are completely discredited. You don't get to decide how people want to use their worlds. Yes, um, evidently you hate our freedom, eh? Is that it? That people chose to do something that you can't approve of?

At this point people use Second Life for education, non-profit, business, entertainment, science. Sorry, but people aren't interested in having you church ladies bleat at them that it's only a video game and that it's like a casino, Not when millions of US dollars change hands. You're the conservatives and Luddites who will have to adapt here, sorry, not the progressives that Thomas and Mark seem to think you are.

Posted Feb 7, 2007 2:03:17 AM | link

SA's Member says:

Prokofy, get a real job. Also, get therapy.

Also, please consider this post to be me serving you for a class action lawsuit for the libelous defamation of Something Awful on your part. WE SHALL NOT ACCEPT THIS HORRENDOUS TERRORISTIC CYBERCRIME THAT IS BEING COMMITTED UPON US BY THE OSAMA BIN LADEN OF SECOND LIFE, PROKOFY NEOIHGHW.

post tits pls

Posted Feb 7, 2007 2:05:32 AM | link

SA's Member says:

Dear Prokofy,

Maybe if you had a real job that was of some benefit to society, you wouldn't have time to do something about the Iraq War every day.

Signed,

SA's Member

P.S.: I think you're useless, in case that wasn't clear.

P.P.S.: I hope picking on you in an internet forum isn't cyberterrorism. Because I must be on a DoHS red-list by now!

P.P.P.S.: You can't be an Amurricun with a name like Prokofy. :(

P.P.P.P.S.: Do you like my name? Haha, it's like saying I'm SA's phallus.

P.P.P.P.P.S.: pls post tits kthx

Posted Feb 7, 2007 2:09:10 AM | link