It used to be that the term griefer had a very specific meaning in virtual worlds: it meant someone who deliberately did something for the pleasure in knowing it caused others pain.
What does it mean nowadays, though?
Well, nowadays, griefing can mean a range of things:
- Deliberately causing others pain for the pleasure in knowing this (Mulligan & Patrovsky’s definition).
- Deliberately doing something pleasurable which you know will cause others pain (e.g. ganking)
- Deliberately doing something pleasurable which causes others pain (Foo & Koivisto’s definition)
- Deliberately causing others pain but not feeling there’s anything wrong in it (e.g. scamming)
- Deliberately causing others pain but believing they OKed it (e.g. winning at PvP).
- Unthinkingly causing others pain through selfishness (what Foo & Koivisto call greed play).
- Accidentally causing others pain through error or incompetence (e.g. Leeeeroy).
- Unknowingly doing something someone else doesn’t like (e.g. outbidding them in an auction).
- Lots more...
So much has the term griefer lost its potency that people will now talk instead about specific kinds of griefing, such as training or ninja looting or kill stealing. However, the reason the word griefer got used in the first place is because it’s really handy. If we can’t use it any more for what it used to mean, we need a replacement.