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Oct 23, 2007

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Comments

1.

Keep the term, just be more careful when using it to avoid diluting it's meaning.

Personally, I'd stick with the first definition. To me, defining someone as a griefer or any particular action as griefing requires that the primary motivation is to cause pain to others. The problem is that this is quite hard to validate, and in many cases would require the griefer to acknowledge it himself, because nobody else knows what the griefer was thinking at the time.

2.

My observation (which admittedly is limited to very few virtual worlds), is that griefing still means to deliberately cause others pain for the sheer pleasure of it.

The other forms of griefing you've listed all seem to have an element of personal gain. I can't think of a form of griefing that doesn't have such an element of gain, which has obtained a name of it's own.

Incidentally, I don't think of the last two you listed as griefing. In my view, any form of griefing has to include the intent or willingness to hurt others. Mere stupidity doesn't count, nor does the willingness to pay more than others in an auction, as far as I am concerned (now if people deliberately out-bid others just so they don't get what they want, that'd be griefing).

To summarize: any form of griefing should include the intent or willingness to cause pain to others, and pure griefing should cause no other gain than the pleasure of doing so.

3.

We have to keep in mind that juveniles have been misapplying terms since the dawn of time. Your last two "definitions" are definitely examples of this. Just because juveniles misapply the term doesn't mean we should change the definition of the word, let alone abandon it in favor a something new.

4.

I cannot agree with the last two, too. If somebody hit me with a prim that flied over the sim after mistyping the position of it, applying accidentaly (or while testing a script)too much force, if somebody bump me because of lag... that is not griefing. It is "Ops! Sorrrry." - "No problem." situation.

Also, the term "pain" that appears in some definitions is somewhat problematic. Avatars don't feel the pain. It is mostly annoyance that is caused by griefing. And deliberately acting to make the environment or an avatar disfunctional (partly or completely).

Some months ago the three of us had some fun that can be easily described as griefing. Only difference was, we were not in the mood to annoy people. We were just behaving "violent" knowing that nobody will get hurt. We all knew that if any of our "victims" tell us to go away we would appologize and leave him/her to do own business. Was that a case of griefing? Are prank jokes griefing?

5.

For my part, I haven't noticed any such broadening in usage that would require a new term. In my mind (which may admittedly be far from the status quo at this point), griefing can only really be defined by the first 3.5 items (the fourth one is debatable).

I guess this is what happens when you stop playing WoW-- the culture gets away from you :-(

6.

Why not use more descriptive terms from Real Life, like "jerks," "bullies," "thugs" and "muggers"?

Actually, I really like "bully," even though it only suits a fraction of possible griefing behaviour (high-level avatars turning noobs into fine red mist, plutarchs bidding for auction items their class can't use...)(is plutarch a word?)

I think you want a label for observed behaviour, and you're going to run into trouble when you're trying to include motivation in the definition. The common-law definition of "griefer" includes malevolent intent, but how does an observer accurately detect intent from a single event? It costs nothing to say "oups, my bad. LOL!", either as an genuine apology or as an attempt to deflect vengeance. Heck, sometimes people don't talk at all either because they did it out of ignorance, or they can't be bothered to gloat to victims, or because they don't speak the local language (whether it be Russian, English, or Orcish).

7.

unwesen>any form of griefing should include the intent or willingness to cause pain to others, and pure griefing should cause no other gain than the pleasure of doing so.

That's how I see it, but I've seen those last two examples myself. People have complained on guild chat of having been griefed, and in their minds it means that they felt annoyance (grief) at someone for having done something. Whether that thing was done deliberately to cause grief or not was immaterial to them - merely having been caused some inconvenience was enough.

Richard

8.

I have to admit that for a while (wayyyyy back, a couple years ago), I thought the term meant a whiner, the victim who complains a lot. It made sense on my RP server of WoW where there was plenty of whining.

But now it seems the core idea is someone who's causing others some degree of pain/irritation. Where you set the dial for how much is and isn't griefing is pretty subjective.

9.

Dandelion Kimban>the term "pain" that appears in some definitions is somewhat problematic. Avatars don't feel the pain.

Yes, it's a player thing, not an avatar thing. The player feels the hit emotionally; the avatar is just the conduit through which the griefer reaches the player.

>Are prank jokes griefing?

I don't know how you feel about them, but I consider them to be so.

Richard

10.

Moses>I think you want a label for observed behaviour, and you're going to run into trouble when you're trying to include motivation in the definition.

You are if people try to disguise it, yes. However, if someone goes out of their way to gank you and then laughs at you and tells you you're a loser and tries to worsen your distress, they pretty well admitted it.

>The common-law definition of "griefer" includes malevolent intent, but how does an observer accurately detect intent from a single event?

Some acts of griefing may not be detected because the perpetrator managed to talk their way out of it, but most that are detected will be genuine examples. It's hard to see how someone could pretend to be a griefer but not actually be one.

Richard

11.

Hi Richard,

All these problems seem to result from a social/cultural definition of griefing that depends on some value system beyond that of the game. Why not give the term a more objective, system definition?

Of the options you offer, "greed play" perhaps seems closest to that, in that it emphasizes the degree to which self interests become more important than group interests, without assigning more or less value to either individual or group play. When these two conflict within a game, "grief" becomes a label commonly directed from the group toward the individual -- usually for no other reason than it's easier for the group to achieve its goals if the individual quits "griefing."

My own experience is that play in which players gain pleasure solely from causing pain among others is very rare and short-lived, particularly in comparison with the number of times a player is accused of "griefing" because that player simply prevents other players from doing something they want to do. This "something they want to do" may be perfectly kosher within the rules of the game but (more commonly in my experience) it is some distorted version of "house-rules" within the rules of the game which favor group (eg,"social", warm and fuzzy, pve-ish) play rather than individual (eg, antagonistic, greedy, pvp-ish) play.

Using this sort of definition, we can then begin to 1) look for instances in which groups "grief" individuals (ostracize, deny information, blackball, etc), and 2) inspect the consequences of "grief" (greed) play on the system itself (rather than simply on the "victims" of the griefing).

12.

We need to separate several different concepts here, that currently fall under the umbrella of griefing, such as "criminal versus non-criminal." Crashing the Second Life grid intentionally could be considered a crime (denial-of-service); however, using things like push weapons are simply annoying. We also need to better distinguish between pranks; if I go up to a friend I know well and pull a prank, it could be very different than pranking a stranger. Far too much falls under the single umbrella these days, and you're right, it is time for several terms. How about we look towards the griefers own dictionary to see what they call these things?

I've heard the term "gridcrash" to describe taking down the Second Life grid. Of course, the term "lulz" is more universal for a more Borat-esque prank level. Another term is particle-spam. Sorry to be so Second Life centric, but it is what I'm most familiar with; I think if we come up with more generic terms, it would be a good start in addition to those provided above.

Regards,

-Flip

13.

I think what you're seeing here is that the negative meaning of griefing is so firmly established that many players try to describe other behaviors they want to discourage as "griefing" in order to criticize those behaviors more effectively. But we don't have to accept that extension, only to see it for what it is.

14.

I will have to agree with Timothy on this one. We are finding ourselves at a point where divergence between strict 'terms of art' and the vernacular is becoming abundantly clear.

while I agree with Richard that the definition of griefing ought to include malicious intent, we find that the more common rubric these behaviors would fall into is defined almost solely by intent.

"jerk, bully, thug, etc" all stem largely from intent to harm and don't include any notion of differing social considerations (PvP server, PvE server) and norms (red = dead, whether you want to consider that a norm or not is up to you).

we may not end up at a satisfactory answer to this question, as out definition of griefer will diverge sharply from the more broad usage of th word.

15.

I see problems with "pain" that go beyond the fact that avatars don't really experience it.

First, causing pain isn't really the point of griefing from what I've seen. Causing frustration, anger, and drama, yes, but pain is a stretch. In fact, though I may get crucified for this, it seems like there is frequently an element of "play" to a lot of griefing -- e.g. releasing an angry dragon in the middle of a RP wedding in UO, or using a fountain of Mario characters (rather than something more offensive) to harass land owners in Second Life. (Obviously, some attacks are less "play" oriented and darker.)

How about:

Griefing: harassing other players and/or users of a virtual space outside of the designed user experience and/or game mechanic, thereby diminishing other players' and/or users' experience.

Second, it seems critical that the definition focus on activity contrary to the world/game mechanic, and not the intent of the user or the pain caused, because in some worlds and games (e.g. Eve Online, early PvP in Ultima, etc.) deliberately causing pain (or at least massive frustration) really is the whole point. Not only can a game legitimately be designed that way, it seems that at its core, all PvP (from Monopoly to Eve Online) involves an element of taking joy from others' pain. I never considered my red character a griefer on Ultima in early 1999 -- he played by the rules they set up, it's just that his "Class" was murderer. (For those not familiar, the game-mechanic penalty for that in UO was that he was freely attackable by any player at any time. I still think early UO's Red/Blue/Gray morality system was the very best mechanic I have ever seen for PvP.)

16.

"Anybody who costs you more money than they give you."

17.

""Anybody who costs you more money than they give you.""

damn those pets and children. :)

18.

I’d go with the definition as play for which the motivation is to cause others pain. This definition has a practical application in MMOG design, as you can distinguish play that is pure griefing from play where causing suffering is not the main motivation. In the latter case, if the designer changes the in game rewards for a behavior, the rate of the behavior will change. In the case of pure griefing, the motivation is internal, so no “in game” reward changes will affect it.

To my mind, it’s the lack of effective incentives or disincentives that make pure griefing such a pain for people running VWs. You can only deal with it by blanket reduction of the ways in which players can interact. Or by expensive GM monitoring.

@Benjamin

I’d say if you were playing Monopoly in order to inflict pain on the other players, you were a grief player. Where is the pain in losing a fair game?

19.

Interesting. Benjamin said: "Griefing: harassing other players... outside of the designed user experience and/or game mechanic..."

In my experience, most griefing takes place *within* the experience/mechanic. Ninja looting, corpse camping, etc. are all well within the parameters of the game.

That which takes place from the outside is some kind of "hacking." Which, of course, can cause grief...

20.

No time to read other people's comments, alas, but isn't this a situation where what you want is an adjective to modify "griefer" to preserve the original meaning? Perhaps "intentional griefer" or "malicious griefer"?

21.

dmyers>My own experience is that play in which players gain pleasure solely from causing pain among others is very rare and short-lived

Oh, very few of them would gain pleasure solely from grief play, yes. However, should the opportunity present itself, a griefer would generally take it.

>particularly in comparison with the number of times a player is accused of "griefing" because that player simply prevents other players from doing something they want to do.

Interestingly, the selfishness argument works the other way round here. *I* want to do something and *YOU* stopped me, therefore *YOU* are a griefer - irrespective of your motives or your awareness of me. It assumes the accuser to be at the centre of the universe and objectifies the other players - just like in greed play.

>look for instances in which groups "grief" individuals (ostracize, deny information, blackball, etc)

This is an interesting point. Can groups grief? Or can only individuals grief?

Richard

22.

Tim>the negative meaning of griefing is so firmly established that many players try to describe other behaviors they want to discourage as "griefing" in order to criticize those behaviors more effectively.

This does have the effect of diluting the original meaning, though. If you widen the definition of "obese" to include "slightly overweight" (so as to shock people into exercising rather than be labelled "obese"), what happens after a while is that they regard "obese" to mean the same thing as "slightly overweight", rather than the other way round.

>But we don't have to accept that extension, only to see it for what it is.

Except if it falls into common usage, we do have to accept it. That, for example, is why we no longer get to call virtual worlds MUDs.

Richard

23.

Benjamin Duranske>causing pain isn't really the point of griefing from what I've seen. Causing frustration, anger, and drama, yes, but pain is a stretch.

Provoking any negative emotional response will usually do, yes. The recurrent griefer has a need to demonstrate superiority over others, and any sign of anguish is evidence of success. Pain would probably be the optimum result, although I can envisage there being griefers who wouldn't want to go quite that far.

>Griefing: harassing other players and/or users of a virtual space outside of the designed user experience and/or game mechanic, thereby diminishing other players' and/or users' experience.

Hmm, except that it could happen within the virtual space, and even within the designed user experience.

Harassment is one of the four types of grief that Foo and Koivisto identify (the others are power imposition, scamming and greed play). I have issues with their definition of what is or isn't griefer behaviour (they decouple enjoyment from the effect on the victim), but they do have examples of "griefing" that are non-harassing. Ninja-looting, for example, they call greed play.

Richard

24.

Richard -

Ninja looting, corpse camping, etc. are all well within the parameters of the game.
---------------------------------

In Eve-Online the analogs to the above might be at least considered the domain of "pirates" and while pirates may be disliked by many if not most players, their role seems accepted as part of the texture (as well as the dynamic) of this game world. Those who don't like this sort of darker world self-select out. To echo a couple of writers above, I think the culture of the game world has to be a factor in measuring conduct (and also intent).

25.

Provoking any negative emotional response will usually do, yes. The recurrent griefer has a need to demonstrate superiority over others, and any sign of anguish is evidence of success. Pain would probably be the optimum result, although I can envisage there being griefers who wouldn't want to go quite that far.

This seems to be in conflict with the idea that pranks are grief. Furthermore, at least one third of the playerbase has a need to demonstrate superiority over others... What can be observed as so called "griefing" is a matter of playstyle-superiority demonstration (pvp vs non-pvp, roleplayers vs non-roleplayers etc) or odd humour (cheating newbies).

"Griefer" should be viewed as popular term that is somewhat wishy-washy... Rather unsatisfactory, imo.

26.

Just to elaborate: that would be "teaching the clueless a lesson" or "telling them what their place is". That can be done in many ways and on many levels. Many MMO players do however object to this as they aren't participating in a world, they are talking a stroll in the park (Disney World) and expect others to play nice with them. Non-world players will view world-players as "griefers", hence the dilution of the term.

Virtual worlds are generally emotional under-performers. So in order to evoke a response you have to cross the borders, that combined to with the more uniformed/anonymous situation leads to odd behaviour. I'm sure many players of MUDs have experienced that they as newbies have been "taught lessons", ganking, humiliating teasing, followed up with twinking and friendlieness. Push down, pull up, welcome, embrace. Is that "griefing"? It is quite common for MUDs to require that you invest, undergo a ritual where you struggle, in order to prove your being worthy of becoming a full member. Are the designers per definition griefers, then? Some kinds of "grief" is quite functional.

MMOs are somewhat less personal, of course.

If the term "griefer" is diluted that's just a result of the term being a fuzzy populist term, lacking the power to explain what happens in virtual worlds, in the first place. Nyahnyah...

27.

"This is an interesting point. Can groups grief? Or can only individuals grief?"

If you're willing to accept something as small as a duo or trio as a group then I would say yes, groups can grief.

28.

What I'd consider as "griefing" is only the first one: "Deliberately causing others pain for the pleasure in knowing this" - with the proviso that it's usually causing some kind of emotional distress, rather than actual pain.

If it's done for some gain, rather than the emotional effect on the victim, I wouldn't count it as griefing. (Although, sometimes the two overlap).

I also wouldn't count it as griefing if it's consensual - within socially agreed upon "rules of the game". The problem is that there are some things that the software will permit, but which violate social norms. (The social norms are typically not completely expressible in a way that a computer program can enforce). So, for example, the members of a BDSM club don't count as griefers if their activities are consensual, even if pain is involved.

29.

when things get too articulate, becomes more useful to move from binary distinctions (griefing vs. not griefing) to spectra (degree of griefing) or typologies (types of griefing). think the movement from friend yes/no --> type of relationship in social networking tools.

30.

According to some Prokofy^Wpeople, griefing is disagreeing with them.

31.

Nate>Ninja looting, corpse camping, etc. are all well within the parameters of the game.

So being within the parameters of the game is a contributing factor in deciding whether something is griefing or not?

In MUD2, we had/have permadeath. You get killed in a fight, you're GONE. This is within the parameters of the game, and people do expect it to happen. That doesn't mean they like it, though.

If someone ninja-loots because they need what they looted, that's different to someone who ninja-loots something useless to them because they know you desperately want it and they know how mad you'll be that they took it and they get a kick out of that.

Richard

32.

Rich Bryant>According to some Prokofy^Wpeople, griefing is disagreeing with them.

Is it griefing to insult someone publicly in a forum where they can't reply because they were banned?

Richard

33. at least one third of the playerbase has a need to demonstrate superiority over others... What can be observed as so called "griefing" is a matter of playstyle-superiority demonstration

Not every demonstration of superiority is griefing. Far away from that. But, one thing that is (maybe not common, but) very spread among griefers is gaining superiority by different observation of the whole system. E.g. griefer vs. highly immersive rezident, the one that takes its avatar very seriously and has a strong connection with it. caging, orbiting, bumping with attached genitals... all can be more than annoying to the player but the griefer will say "It's only a game. It is not a rape. Avatar is just a pile of pixels." But the griefer gets its pleasure becouse the player takes it seriously.

34.

((it says that blockquote tag is allowed))
the previous post has Ola Fosheim Grøstad quote

35.

"Is it griefing to insult someone publicly in a forum where they can't reply because they were banned?"

I don't know - ask Prokofy. Since everyone who gets attacked at Second Thoughts has been banned for one arbitrary "threat" or another, I'm not losing much sleep over Rich Bryant's comment.

Bringing this back around to the topic, and responding to Richard Bartle's earlier point, I'm starting to wonder if the definitions at the top of the post are so subjective as to be valueless anyway.

Basically, your "ninja looting" is my "roleplaying a thief." My "harassment" is your "advertising." It's pretty tough to define this by the victim's perception and have it result in anything remotely fair.

My old-school UO murderer was undoubtedly considered a griefer by some of his victims, but some murderers considered the ad hoc vigilante groups griefers themselves.

And yeah, I play monopoly to win. Winning involves beating everyone else. You do that by taking all their money. Tell me it's not painful to land on boardwalk with a hotel.

PvP *is* griefing under these definitions. I kill you and take your stuff, I am, by definition, causing you pain.

But that's okay, because you're trying to do the same thing. A NFL player who sacks the quarterback isn't griefing, but he is definitely causing pain (frankly, a lot more pain than finding goatse on your lawn).

There has to be a component to this that examines whether or not the action is part of the game/world mechanic and contemplated user experience.

36.

One important moment in this is
"But that's okay, because you're trying to do the same thing."

37.

Benjamin Duranske>your "ninja looting" is my "roleplaying a thief." My "harassment" is your "advertising."

This is indeed a problem when you define things in terms of what people do rather than why they do it (and why they say they do it - "I was only role-playing" is a traditional defence used by griefers to try deny responsibilities for their actions").

The original definition - doing something purely for the pleasure of knowing others won't like it - doesn't have this problem, as it incorporates motivation. However, that does mean it's a lot harder to identify, because only the person who does it truly knows why they were doing it (and many of them don't like to admit it, even to themselves).

Richard

38.

I would've thought that an intrinsic problem with 'role-play' is defining what constitutes 'play' and what goes beyond that and becomes 'grief'. We can justify most things in real life by saying "I didn't mean it" or "that's not what I meant". In face-to-face encounters wecan often see the lie, if there is one. Online we're left to guess a person's motivation, unless they're being blatant.

Having been on the receiving end of harrassment from a much more powerful player on WoW, I've come to accept that 'griefing', like powerplay, is just another consequence of the hobby. Unless those running the world are actively involved in supressing the perpetrators there's little we can do. But then formal supression is a type of censorship and that would, undoubtedly, be a whole new cause for concern.

39.

I think you have your chronology all topsy turvy.

Many gamers and/or virtual world inhabitants were familiar with camping, spwn camping, looting, TKing etc. well before the term griefing became the much banded around term it is today. I also think you need define the demographics that use the term 'griefing' in the senses you defined above and name virtual worlds associated with those demographics.

If you are talking about Second Life, sure. I think WoW and some others can be lumped in there too. But you can't make these sweeping assumptions which may strike a chord with TNers but aren't true across all platforms.

40.

dandellion: Not every demonstration of superiority is griefing.

Well, but when people label others as griefers they do it not out of psychological insight, but as moral judgment. The term "griefer" assumes that people form clear goals and follow them. Well, people are more fuzzy than that. They go with their hazy feelings...

Hence, anyone who shows themselves superior to me in a way which interferes with my playstyle in a way I feel is unnecessary or tactless would be perceived as griefers. BUT, players do have good reasons to diss other people's playstyles because they often interfere with each other. That's just social dynamics. "Play my game or get off my turf, you bastard/sissy/newbie...".

The griefer notion is too simplistic. It might apply to some rare cases of people who are very angry at something in their own life, or who have serious mental disorders and thus lack empathy. I think that is rather uncommon. (Though you might see thousands in a game with millions of players.)

But, one thing that is (maybe not common, but) very spread among griefers is gaining superiority by different observation of the whole system.

Yes, PKs are often like this. They play the virtual world as if it is a contest between Quake players. Others feel they are griefers. These players refuse to give in to the idea that other people actually value taking the fictional world as a viable reality (immersion). They are out-of-the-world and the-world-norms-amounts-to-nothing players. They view characters as game pieces.

Then you have the majority of the players which also are out-of-the-world, but adhere to the the-world-norms-should-follow-what-is-real. They view characters as proxies for their real self.

I personally find both groups equally annoying. They both bring death to the playground, the immersion and the fictional world.

They are MY griefers, because they cannot understand immersion and they bring the real into my fictional world. They attack my immersion. I hate that. And I am their griefer because I refuse to sacrifice a single inch of my character for their pointless little reality-based game that has no artistic merits.

In my view, if they participate in a role-playing universe they do indeed involve themselves in my role-playing experience. If my character doesn't like them it might very well cause them grief or confusion. I somehow fail to see that this is my responsibility however, as going against that would destroy my immersion.

PKs probably feel the same way. Hiding in the bushes and jumping at someone's throat is not as fun if you have to ask them first if they think it is OK. (The more polite ones ask if it was OK, after they attack though... Somewhat pathetic. :-D)

The power of virtual worlds is that you get to do stuff you cannot do in the real world. Unfortunately, most players haven't realised that. They expect to stand in queue at Disney World. I avoid such worlds... They are death to creativity.

Designers have a responsibility to separate playstyles. Otherwise the designers become the griefers.

41.

Richard Bartle> "The original definition - doing something purely for the pleasure of knowing others won't like it - doesn't have this problem, as it incorporates motivation."

I'm not making myself clear. This definition seems problematic for the very reason that "the pleasure of knowing others won't like it" strikes me as an entirely valid reason why one might do certain things in a PvP context.

The definition seems fine for free-form worlds, but in the context of PvP games, it just doesn't work. It makes too many very enjoyable things (from trash-talking when playing Madden football, to killing an opponent in a particularly spectacular way in classic UO, to loading up on armies in Risk to make your sweep across the world complete, devastating, and demoralizing) just as wrong as showing up in a game just to call somebody racist names. There's a difference and I think the definition has got to acknowledge that.

I put a house on my property in Monopoly so that you to lose more money when you land there. That betters my position and worsens yours, which helps me win (the goal we all seem to be okay with) but you cannot tell me that it's anywhere near as fun to have your opponent's little hat land on Boardwalk-with-a-hotel if you're playing a computer that doesn't care when it sees the dreaded dice roll come up.

That's undeniably a big part of the reason that a lot of people like PvP more than playing the computer controlled opponents. It's partly for the better competition, but it is undeniably also partly to beat somebody who actually cares, and potentially be beat by someone who views the emotional stakes as higher as well.

I'm certain that there are studies that back this up -- anybody have a reference?

42.


That's undeniably a big part of the reason that a lot of people like PvP more than playing the computer controlled opponents. It's partly for the better competition, but it is undeniably also partly to beat somebody who actually cares, and potentially be beat by someone who views the emotional stakes as higher as well.

I often suspect that I am completely out of touch with many aspects of modern culture, but I can't see the above as any more justifiable than any other negative aspects of human behaviour such as greed and prejudice.

I have seen interviews with international quality swimmers, people who invest their whole lives into their sport, who have finished "only" 7th in the final and yet in the post-race interview indicated how excited they were because they'd just set a new personal best time.

For me, this is what competition provides: a driver and/or tool to seek the best in ourselves, not a source of fellow human beings to feel superior about.

I feel there are activities with great meaning and impact, where "winning" is everything - war is probably the most obvious example. But sport is on one level essentially meaningless - if our objective if to get a person to the end of a pool as fast as possible, then for heaven sakes give them a jet-ski. :-) What gives sport its meaning is only, IMHO, the drive for personal excellence, and the work and dedication that entails. I feel much the same way about the game-like MMO's. Having a lvl-60 nightelf is essentially meaningless, outside of what ever dedication you applied in getting to that point, together with the fun (hopefully at least) you had along the way. Because its only how you play the game that matters, the idea that one derives *additional* satisfaction from the discomfort of the 'losers' is, too me, a rather nasty one, and we don't need to excuse it from the charge of griefing.

If the counterargument to this is "well, sure people suck, but what can you do about that?", I agree that my preaching is not going to change anything. But I still think its appropriate to identify bad behaviour as such, even if the behaviour is inevitable.

43.

I want to reitterate what Susan said above about whether the action is consentual or not.

I have been in many online games where good friends are playing together, and they essentially grief each other for fun, and both the griefer and the griefee find it amusing. Like accidentally killing your own team mate in a shooter game with Friendly Fire, and replying with "Oops", and actually using quotes to express the sarcasm or incincerity. Then it becomes this fun game where you are always watching your back because now you know one of your own team is out for revenge.

Ah and I want to also bring up the Ninja Looting example someone else mentioned. I used to really enjoy being a Rogue in WoW. Sneaking into places all stealthy, then wait for other players to come around and distract the monsters while I looted the chests. Griefing? Maybe. Role playing? Most definitely.

44.

If we both have fun, that isn't griefing.

45.

What about goons in Eve? It would be fair to say that a large number of us - I would suggest a majority - harbour an intense and long-lasting grudge against Bob for the treatment we received at their hands when we started out in the game. This and other similar treatment by D2, LV, -V-, the AoF etc changed the goonswarm from a standard, newbie, "e-honour"-abiding alliance into the vengeful, scamming scum that we are today.

We want to grief Bob's players out of the game. The perfect scenario would be to remove everything that they have built up in the game, to destroy all of their achievements, to ensure that they are remembered in the game primarily as those who lost, and then to drive them from the gameworld itself. We have stated this often enough, and perhaps people don't realise how serious many of us are about these goals, and our willingness to continue to pursue individuals after the conflict in order to ensure it.

Here is a video on the subject, released in the last couple of days.

46.

Since the a tags displayed in the preview, but don't function, here is that link in full: http://youtube.com/watch?v=c4diQEwrjv8

47.

Griefing (v) causing pain or discomfort to another sentient being for the sole purpose of obtaining pleasure. See human (n).

48.

Dandellion has it right here, "If we both have fun, that isn't griefing." So where the definition is problematic for me is where we've both agreed that the outcome could hurt a little for one of us, but where that increases the net "fun" available for both. In the long run, we agree that we'll both have more fun if we participate in something where inflicting some pain on each other is a possible outcome. That defines a lot of PvP (particularly with looting).

Even if the negotiation mechanic is hidden (e.g. we both affirmatively choose to play on a PvP server) there is a tacit agreement to increase the net fun by running the risk of some additional emotional pain. That has got to be seen as different than a player *unilaterally* inflicting pain for the joy of it.

49.

Cunzy1 1>Many gamers and/or virtual world inhabitants were familiar with camping, spwn camping, looting, TKing etc. well before the term griefing became the much banded around term it is today.

Yes, these are all examples of behaviour that broke social norms. The point is, so was "griefing" until it got expanded to cover these additional areas.

>If you are talking about Second Life, sure. I think WoW and some others can be lumped in there too. But you can't make these sweeping assumptions which may strike a chord with TNers but aren't true across all platforms.

What I was saying is that the term has acquired a wider meaning than it once had. I actually only need that to be true in one well-played virtual world in order to make my point. That said, yes, it would be interesting to know whether the same kind of shift has occurred in the cultures of other virtual worlds.

Richard

50.

From back in my MUD days, "griefing" has required a sustained and/or systematic disruption of the spirit of gameplay mostly for the pleasure derived from such disruption.

That is, it's hard for me to think of a single action that, in and of itself, should properly be "griefing." For example, drive-by ganking a lower level as you travel may be a crappy thing to do, but doesn't rise to the level of griefing. On the other hand, patrolling a hunting ground ganking all lower levels attempting to hunt the ground mostly for the purpose of disrupting the gameplay is clearly griefing.

51.

Dude, #5 and #8 aren't griefing, although they are settings in which griefing happens: Generally they are when the rules were violated or 'gamed' in order for the winning or bidding to take place.

Merely winning isn't griefing.

52.

Griefing is a meme. I believe that 'meme' is a word that is ridiculously overused in SL and yet I think that it fits perfectly in this case. Griefing was created and has evolved through social interaction, both in terms of how to be a griefer and of how others identify a griefer.

Trying to come up with a theoretical definition for griefing is a dauntless (and perhaps impossible) task. A meme like griefing can be defined only in practical terms. That is why even in FL, while we do have laws that are formally defined, the application of those laws is left to jury systems with juries made of peers. BTW, I loved it when I saw 'The "Anshe plus two rule": What Anshe and two randomly selected Dreamland residents consider "ugly" must be changed. No arguing, no complaint, no drama.' [the covenant of the Forgotten Legends sim]

My 2 cents on what is the best practical definition of griefing? In a world that is collaborative, griefing is being non-collaborative. Now, can someone just define what 'collaborative' means?

53.

An interesting viewpoint for analyzing griefing might be W.D. Hamilton's categorization of social interactions into four types, depending on whether actor and recipient gain or lose.

mutualism: actor and receiver both gain
altruism: actor loses, receiver gains
selfishness: actor gains, receiver loses
spite: actor loses, receiver loses

Griefers would be engaging either in selfishness (if they gain a material benefit) or spite (if they gain no material benefit and waste time that could have been spent gaining material benefit).

Two caveats:

1. Hamilton's categories refer to reproductive outcomes, not general competitive outcomes.

2. Spite has been difficult to prove in animal examples as it is often uncertain whether the actor may receive a delayed or indirect benefit.

54.

"Now, can someone just define what 'collaborative' means?"

" bring me fame, money, power, sex "; that's very collaborative. Fight me for your own interest/pleasure , and you'll become a griefer.In SL AND in " FL ".

55.

Just some random thoughts:

If you exlpoit a system to interrupt someone else's good time "Because you can," you might be a griefer.

Exploiting a system doesn't necessarily take a lot of technical proficiency.

For me it's like pr0n, I know it when I see it.

56.

Greg>spite: actor loses, receiver loses

But even in spite, the actor must believe they're getting something back, otherwise they wouldn't do it. At some level, they must feel slightly better for what they've done.

Richard

57.

@ fasdf...

I believe that is also griefing, but I am not sure...

58.

My personal observations of in-game griefing lead me to define it as "Deliberately causing others frustration to elicit a negative reaction." Without a reaction from a griefing victim, the griefer has failed, and will usually move on to a more productive target.

Let me illustrate with some examples of my WoW gameplay. A node in WoW is a harvestable resource that can be used or sold. As a miner I have an expectation of harvesting say one node every four minutes. Nodes are often "guarded" by mobs that have to be killed before harvesting.

Example A: I am standing near a node, fighting a mob in preperation for harvesting, when another player rides up and harvests the node. On the server WoW Tich this is bad-behavior, but doesn't rise to the level of griefing. I put him on my do not group with list and think nothing more about it.

Example B: I am standing near a node, fighting a mob in preparation for harvesting, when a player with the name r_u_mad_now rides up and harvests the node, and emotes laughter. His name and emote indicates his intention to grief. In example B I put the player on my griefer list and actively look for him to disrupt his gameplay.

Example C. I am sitting in a zone protected by friendly guards. A mage opens up a portal, then proceeds to gank me and goes through his own portal before the guards get to him. I lost one minute of time. I actually thought this was pretty funny as I had not thought of that "exploit" before.

Example D. I am sitting in a zone protected by friendly guards. A paladin engages me in combat, knowing that if I respond the guards will attack both of us. Being killed by a guard entails a monetary penalty. So I do not respond to the paladin's attack and he uses his class's mechanics to escape retribution from the guards. I lose one minute of time, and return to my previous location to "buff up". He then repeats the attack. The first attack was annoying but in my mind did not rise to the level of griefing. However by attacking me twice, with the unspoken threat to continue attacking me, it did rise to griefing.

I believe when discussing griefing we should use as a metric "Time Lost". In an early EQ raid a LeeeeRoy moment cost me 1 hour of time, and the raid as a whole over 50 man hours of time. So although the term griefing would cover this example plus Example B and D, they are not equally as serious. So that we could call the current example Griefing(50H), Example B Griefing (4M) and example D Griefing (1M.C) the C standing for cycle, in that I could take action to break the cycle, by logging off, waiting to rez, etc.

My personal observation is that accepted behavior on one server may not be accepted on another server, and that this needs to be referenced when discussing griefing.

59.

I do think the word has lost meaning to the general public to the point it will be used to mean no more than a description of someone who caused someone else grief.

From the point of view of game design I think the term can still be used to talk about the potential actions that cause players grief. Each individual game will have to establish just what level of grief and what kinds of grief their playerbase will have to deal with.

For example someone playing DAOC can step out into the RVR world and get killed in seconds. They may feel grief, the person who killed them would be the griefer. From a design pov it can be established that is an acceptable level of grief, and/or they may want to find ways to help the griefed person avoid being griefed.

60.

My suggestion is to replace "deliberately" with "unfairly".

Then the qualifiers and conditions really take care of themselves.

Too ambiguous?

One other: I don't think a single instance of causing grief makes a person a griefer any more than one white lie makes one a liar.

Griefer implies a pattern of behavior, to me

From a game design standpoint, it's more useful to address it as a pattern of behavior. Whether it's 1 jerk being a jerk 100 times, or 100 players being jerks 1 time each, you still have to deal with it.

61.

Incidentally, I don't think motive has anything to do with it.

A gold farmer hogging all the spawns, despite his motivation being to feed his kids, is as much a griefer as a spoiled kid hogging all the spawns just to piss you off because he's bored.

A player basically doing the very same thing because he needs the coppers to buy a shiny new sword, however, is rarely labeled "griefer".

There's a sense of fairness at work.

62.

My last at-bat.

Did I just miss the point entirely here, and "suggestions?" was a request for a new term to take the place of the more narrow original definition of "griefer"?

If so, I don't think one's necessary, as we already and always have had plenty of words to describe people like that.

Gregg Henry's dialog in Slither consists almost entirely of them.

63.

Frankly I find the definitions used to be "offensively broad". For emotional hypochondriacs like Prokofy Neva, everything they disapprove of is griefing merely because they feel they have an inherent right to not be offended, and that mere offense causes pain.

No, griefing has a much narrower definition: engaging in gameplay which crashes or otherwise seriously degrades server or client performance such as to prevent or seriously inhibit the game experience of others, and to do so purely "for the lulz".

Being upset over how others play the game makes 90 % of gameplay "griefing". Hell, by your definition, any idiot who cant calculate a P/E or understand an NAV that bids down my company's stock is 'griefing' me...

64.

My rough definition of griefing is "in-game behavior intended to disrupt other players from playing the game as designed by its developers."

The key components are intentionality and the following of the designer's gameplay rules. If you foul up someone else's game unintentionally, you're not griefing. And if you cause someone else's game to be more difficult, you're not necessarily griefing -- maybe you're just a good competitor. It's only griefing if causing someone else's game to become harder occurs outside the rules of play as envisioned by the game's designer, because at that point you've bounced outside of "the game"; you've broken the magic circle.

In a larger sense (and I differ from Jeff here in that I do think motivation matters), I see griefing as an aspect of what I call the Manipulator player type, which is my version of Richard's Killer type expanded to be as potentially positive as his other three player types. I see a griefer as a Manipulator gone bad. Instead of enhancing the gameplay of others through the artistic manipulation of the world (meaning objects and people and systems) according to the designer's rules of play, the griefer steps outside the gameworld to manipulate it according to his own designs.

One of my little projects is what might be called the Redemption of the Killer. I'm basically trying to think of gameplay designs that will offer positive outlets for Manipulator behaviors. The theory (and that's all it is so far) is that griefers grief in part because games are explicitly designed to exclude them, but unfortunately that also means eliminating possibilities for supportive Manipulator gameplay. Without such positive outlets, they go rogue.

So I'm looking for things they can do in a game that they enjoy and that make the game better for other players. Some ideas so far include offering tools (I consider this player type the consummate tool-user) that allow objects to be constructed with very high levels of craftsmanship (for introverted Manipulators), and political systems that reward the responsible manipulation of public opinion as a deliberate aspect of gameplay (for the more social Manipulators).

Of course a game designed in this way won't "cure" griefing, however it's defined. Regardless of motivation, some people are just jerks. A game offering features that appeal to the positive aspects of Manipulators might wind up attracting more than its share of negative Manipulators (i.e., griefers).

The thing is, would the good outweigh the bad?

I don't know. But it seems to me that this might be an experiment worth trying.

--Bart

65.

Griefing is easy to define with words.

Griefing is the use of one's rights, be they natural or virtual (code, et al), to adversely affect the rights of others.

Whether one gains pleasure from the act is immaterial.


As far as comments...

"Richard Bartle says:

Rich Bryant>According to some Prokofy^Wpeople, griefing is disagreeing with them.

Is it griefing to insult someone publicly in a forum where they can't reply because they were banned?"

If that statement is an 'insult' rather than 'true', well - it could be considered griefing. However, if we fit the definition I gave - it could be if you consider the reputation involved. However, since the subject doesn't care too much for the reputation of others, its the Wild Wild West. Grab a sixgun.

Intlibber - please define 'emotional hypochondriac'. I have a feeling you are being redundant.

66.

One problem with defining words based on what you think the word should describe is that everyone has their own opinion about that. This leads to instances where the meaning is not conveyed and the word loses effectiveness.

In the end people will just tend to trend towards a literal interpretation. Especially when talking about a word like "griefer" which has a very obvious literal meaning. (Someone who causes grief)

If you really want to convey additional meaning then you are going to need additional modifiers. For example a malicious griefer, an accidental griefer, a pious griefer, etc. Or you will have to establish a set meaning for a specific setting. For example a design team could decide that Griefers are only people that cause grief for other players to an undesireable level.

67.

replying to Richard: "But even in spite, the actor must believe they're getting something back, otherwise they wouldn't do it."

This is also what's intriguing about the concept of spite in biology. The usual situation in nature (and I would suggest MMORPGs) is that everyone is competing against everyone else, with the exception of local mutuality and a little altruism amongst kin (game analogy: guilds). We expect actors to harm others for selfish benefit, even if the harm is simply getting ahead on points. In cases of spite however, an actor harms others for no obvious benefit to himself. My feeling is that this distinction, rather than the actor's conscious intention, gets at what people have in mind when they talk about griefers.

That said, the concept of spite is controversial in biology, because in many suggested examples the actor can be shown either to have gained indirect or delayed advantage, ie the apparent spite advantaged the actor either by benefiting a friendly/related third party or attenuating competition for the actor at a later point in time.

There's a good (biology) paper on this at http://www.lasi.group.shef.ac.uk/pdf/fwrannzoolfenn2001.pdf . I'm not sure whether biology is applicable to player actions in MMORPGs but it's interesting to ponder.

68.

Perhaps the concept should be something like

Griefing is an act that may or may not be 'legal' bullying that impacts another players enjoyment that exists outside the existed social compact of the games community.

For instance:

Cheating? Not really griefing. Its just plain cheating.
Cheating disadvantaging another player? Thats griefing AND cheating.
Cheating disadvantaging another player in a way that the whole community does? Its cheating, but its not griefing, because its accepted by the community.

Pulling a corporate heist in EVE online? Its not cheating and its not griefing, because the commuity accepts it as part of the course of the game.
Pulling a bitter corporate takeover for lulz in Second life in a legal manner? Its not cheating but it is griefing, because its considered bad form.
Pulling a bitter corporate takeover for lulz in second life using an exploit. Its cheating and its griefing because its bad form, and anyway you might just get taken to court for it.
Pulling a bitter corporate takeover due to a commercial debate legally? Its not griefing because its part of the hustle and bustle of business.

Newbie killing in empire(EVE) using suicide alts in eve? Its not REALLY cheating, because the mechanics allow it, but it is griefing because the community considers it bad form
Newbie killing in empire(EVE) with a war declaration. Its not cheating and its considered part of the game so its not really griefing.
Newbie killing in empire(EVE) using a standings 'sploit. Its cheating and its griefing. Nobody including CCP is down with this.

Sorry about the repetition there, but I just wanted to isolate three key points of griefing and try and make them interact
1) Is it "EULA" legal?
2) Is it community accepted?
3) Is it bullying?

69.

Hmm. Looking back on that. I'm not making my argument particularly well. Basically what I'm getting at is that "Griefing" doesn't invoke EULA type conecpts of 'legal' play. You can cheat, you can be an asshole, but if the game accepts it as par for the course, its not really griefing. What makes it griefing is the condemnation of the community, ie the social compact of the community. IF your an asshole, and IF the community thinks your being an asshole, then your a griefer.

70.

"...the concept of spite is controversial in biology..."

Not when it's about primates. One cannot dissociate the psychology from biology.

"In cases of spite however, an actor harms others for no obvious benefit to himself."

Except for : feeling better ; wich is the main goal/obvious benefit of playing games. The " normal " human behavior ; except for saints, is in our nature to to do " bad things " , " wrongdoings ", from time to time. It fulfills a need.

71.

The term "griefer" is pretty clear in it's definition. It's someone who is carrying out an activity for the primary purpose of creating "grief".

That implies willingness to impose emotional distress on the part of the griefer and an ability to feel this grief on the part of the recipient.

The first 3 definitions all apply, the rest do not.

Just because 90% of the people who call me in tech support refer to a PC as a "hard drive" does not make the PC a hard drive. It makes them ignorant of the meaning of the words they are using. One day "hard drive" may indeed by an appropriate term for a PC base unit, due to mass perception of the meaning (see "decimate" for a contemporary example), but not just yet.

The same applies to griefer. It's not exactly sufficiently in the public domain yet for the meaning of it to have drained away entirely. Presuming you can make the etymological leap between the abstract noun grief and the verb "griefer".

As for why people do it, that's easy.

Power.

72.

"The term "griefer" is pretty clear in it's definition"

should read:

"The term "griefer" is pretty clear in its definition"

Sorry about that.

73.

"The term "griefer" is pretty clear in it's definition. It's someone who is carrying out an activity for the primary purpose of creating "grief".

That implies willingness to impose emotional distress on the part of the griefer and an ability to feel this grief on the part of the recipient."

The problem with that is you don't always know the purpose the person is acting. This makes the population of people defined as griefer very poorly defined.

It is also a relatively meaningless distinction to the person who is suffering grief which is the primary concern from a design perspective.

74.

If you're just looking for a term that describes disruptive players (ones whose behaviour results in conflict rather than facilitation) then I'm afraid you'd need to define it relative to all the other modes of play.

Certainly using the griefer tag is inappropriate as it immediately lumps in the incompetent with the malevolent, which is useless from a design perspective since both groups respond to very different carrots.

75.

I am not "looking" for a term for anything. I am talking about the term griefer and how it will be used and why. I don't even think it is an issue of how "should" the term be used, but how it will be used.

There are also a lot more people that fall into that group then the malevolent and the incompetent.

From a design perspective if you use carrots, or really disincentives, to mold behavior they are likely to be the same, not different let alone completely different.

And you are still trying to define something you have no chance of ever knowing. Generally speaking if something can be done in a game it will be done and it doesn’t really matter that much if the griefer says oops or haha after they grief someone.

76.

My definition: A griefer views any interaction with other players as a zero-sum transaction. The griefer obtains pleasure from destroying the pleasure of the other players, and interacts with other players in a way to maximize unpleasant outcomes for those players (frustration, wasted time, feelings of helplessness). Furthermore, the griefer does this without any pre-existing relationship with the other player, which differentiates it from actions taken in anger, for revenge, etc.

The simplest definition of a griefer: Someone who enjoys making little kids cry.

77.

I would consider that among the definitions you gave, only definitions 1, 2 and 6 are definitely, without a doubt, griefing. 3 is not griefing so long as you aren't aware that you're causing harm. 4 is usually griefing, but it can be okay if you're 'playing Robin Hood' and only scamming the scammers. 5 is not griefing so long as the other person actually did okay it. 7 is not griefing unless you are aware of your own incompetence and of the fact that you will cause harm to superior players by playing on their team. 8, again, is only griefing if you know the other person doesn't like it and if you aren't stealing anything (so outbidding them at an auction wouldn't count, unless you did it solely to prevent them from getting whatever it was you were bidding on).

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