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Feb 06, 2007

Comments

101.

Keep in mind also that Prok is one of the worst griefers in SL afaik. The batshit insane public denunciations, and frankly defamatory nonsense she spouts about groups like libSL and whatnot oughtof , if there is any justice, had her turfed out of the game long ago (Theres a reason shes banned from so many SL forums and blogs), but yes, she will go on like a mad banshee that anyone that looks or acts different to her narrow fascist viewpoint is a EVIL CRIMINAL and if you disagree , your ENABLING EVIL CRIMINALS.

Theres a reason I dont play SL, because I dont want to be verbally abused by mad old molls like that.

102.

"It's a foregone conclusion that I will climax during sex, and yet I don't consider it pointless at all."

Your partner might if you "one-shotted" them to do so. They might even wish they'd spent the time getting ganked in WoW instead.

103.

>A person who enjoyes ganking over and over again merely for the pleasure of having power over a defenseless newb and feeling themselves to be evil, is not a person playing a game. You'd like to find some way to call it a game, but it's not a game for one simple reason: it has no rules. There's only blunt force and ignorance.


I thought this was interesting. In game studies, constraints are considered (way too often) the same as rules. Ie, people will do whatever they can, exploit bugs . cheat etc to advance.
Rules don't stop them, constraints do. For rules only exist when people follow them or are punished by them.

104.

In Defence of the Ancients (a cusotm warcraft III map), ganking means to gang up and attack or kill a stronger player in the opposing team to gain an advantage in the game.

It just kinda annoys me that people use 'ganking' as a negative term when it means something else entirely to DotA players.

105.

@Chun Tung: It annoys you that everyone else doesn't conform to your usage? I understand that. Around my city, saying, "Let's go for custard!" means you want to go out for a frozen dairy dessert often served on a cone. It annoys the heck out of me that people in other places call that ice cream. And when they serve me custard, it's *nothing* like the custard I know -- now *that's* annoying. ;)

@ErikC: I like the realist take on rules -- there's a lot of wisdom in recognizing that rules that aren't followed at all don't, in a way, exist. We've spoken about control several times in this thread, and it may be helpful to tie together the different kinds of control (both intentional and unintentional) that have been mentioned. There are rules, which are law-like, and there are material constraints (I often talk about these as architectural), and there are social conventions (which David Simkins' post very nicely lays out). (It's possible to add the market as another form, but let's leave it aside here.)

Interestingly, games are not just a collection of these different forms of control. Many institutions might be sensible in this way, but games are a bit different, because they're supposed to generate unexpected outcomes, and that means that they must also include sources of unpredictability. This is what makes them compelling and a source of meaning, in my view.

106.

I took this discussion another step on my blog - http://secondtense.blogspot.com/2007/02/griefing-ganking-is-mere-bullying.html

107.

@Ace: Lol. I wasn't going to go there about Matt's sex life. May all our sex lives be contingent, at least to some degree, not routinized. :)

108.

@Chun

Urban Dictionary, FTW:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gank

Has both definitions listed. It did derive from "gang kill" - to gang up on someone and kill them.

I think the "spirit" of the word gank has come to mean the "an easy victory". And in free-for-all games, yeah, ganking can be an integral part of the game dynamic. Context important, like all words.

109.

Prokofy is right and somebody here is wrong. This is a blog, not a game. Allowing the " tits " thingie to go for so long , is telling a lot about TN. While when about a VW , the devs there has economic/financial interrests to design and rule their on-line business, while on a game-forum/fanbois forum there are understandable ( not necessarily acceptable )reasons for the admins to rule their sites in certain ways, i have a question for TN : TN, what was/is your reason ?

110.

Does anyone know why Blizzard allows the gank?

It seems like the system actually encourages ganking, but I'll stop short of saying that because maybe ganking is emergent and unpredicted behavior. That seems unlikely though since Blizzard knew enough about player interaction to create safe zones.

111.

"When we talk about means of exchange, however, we start down the path of economics, which has nothing to do with "value" and everything to do with "worth." IE, systems of determining *relative* value, so that multiple people can exchange things. Usually many times, usually over many platforms. I can't trade my appreciation for music (though I value it highly) for your exceptional swimming ability (much as I might want to); there is no means of exchange. To exchange value, two things are needed: a means to make the exchange (a platform), and a method of determining value."

I'm not sure I follow you Andy. Unless I misunderstand the economists around me [quite possible since they talk funny] all value is relative value determined by the actor e.g. how much do you value an hour of listening to music compared to all the other things that bring you warm happy utils. Seems to me they would argue that all you need is the platform.

I'm not an economist although I consort with them. I much prefer the musings about Weber. Sociologists ftw.

112.

Ken : it is because the market. Any MMO company needs as much players as possible.And to keep them in game. With the hope that ganking/griefing will trigger the emergence of " anti ", so you can keep ppls busy , interrested , immersed.Involved .

113.

Or maybe they just think it's a bad idea to hard-code behavior.

114.

Thomas,

I'm surprised how easily you dismiss ganking as a valid form of gameplay. I http://www.whatwouldmattdo.com/2007/02/06/the-tao-of-ganking/>responded a few days back, but I'd love to here why you disregard ganing as a means of play. You literally call it "meaningless" three or four times in your post.

I think to do that not only suggests people aren't playing whatever MMO properly and that the game would be better off without said gankers (debatable to say the least), but suggests that a group of players aren't getting enjoyment out of a game because you don't see value in it.

That's pretty silly. These are people that are enjoying the game their way. Sure, it's a retarded way to play the game imho, but that doesn't mean it's any less fun for them.

And it disregards the bigger issue of what developers allow ganking to happen if it's such a plague. Sure UO was completely unable to deal with them, but future games knew about the gankers and should have come up with better solutions to dealing with them...

115.

Another possible take on this might be that the successful "Killer MUDs" have managed to incorporate the inevitable griefing into the game design. So, sure, it's griefing, but, in certain killer MUDs, it's griefing that the game designer has anticipated -- indeed, it might actually be necessary to make the game play work. In those kind of games, the potential griefers are given something obvious to do --- which is safer than them finding some unanticipated way to cause trouble.

But that only applies to killer MUDs, where the social contract between players permits certain kinds of aggression and hostility.

116.

@Matthew: First, this has been a nearly unmanageable post in terms of length and tone. I'm a bit surprised you're so offended, but please accept my apologies. I'll also avoid matching your flippancy ("silly argument"), and try to respond substantively to what you're saying here and at your blog.

I don't think you're really responding to my argument. As I've said (especially in my later comment above), "meaningless" is a bit of an overstatement. My more fundamental point is that it doesn't make sense to see ganking (the kind I'm talking about here) as a *game*. I didn't say it's not "play"; although I think it probably isn't, that would be a different argument. For me, the interesting implications of it not being understandable as a game are for what kind of meaning it can have: generative (that which can challenge one's expectations) or confirmatory (that which confirms inherited meanings).

Now, you seem to want to argue that if they *say* they're enjoying the ganking, then it must be (a) meaningful in all ways, and (b) part of the game. But there is no reason for me to take their account of what they're doing as sufficient argument against what I'm saying. I'm asserting that whatever it is they *think* they're doing, and whatever kind of meaning it has for them, it *isn't* a game (from an analytical point of view), and the meaning it has is, well, pretty shallow in the long run. Yes, this is the kind of stance that makes relativists' wince (and it's why Prok's accusation of me as a relativist is particularly perplexing), but if we are utterly beholden to the accounts people give of their own actions, then we *will* be caught in a relativist trap.

117.

(Ken Fox)
"It seems like the system actually encourages ganking, but I'll stop short of saying that because maybe ganking is emergent and unpredicted behavior."

No, I think your instinct is right. In fact, it's not that the PvP server system just encourages ganking: it's actually dependent on ganking. Otherwise you only have consensual PvP, which is exactly the same as what you have on a PvE server.

Different strokes for different folks.

118.

Greetings, all!

Let me start out by saying that I am an unrepentant ganker. A griefer. A corpse camper. I find this discussion intriguing so I figured I'd weigh in to relay the viewpoint of this ganker.

(If you want you watch the best ganking video ever made, you can view it here on Google video)

One notion I'd like to shoot down right off the bat is that gankers gank because they are incapable of being 'successful' elsewhere in the game. I assume that this fairly common accusation is mostly just a hollow attempt at an insult, as it is completely baseless. For those who measure success by gear, I have been incredibly successful. A year ago I joined an MC guild and have been part of the the team that pushed through all of BWL, all of AQ40 and well into Naxx before BC came out. I am a fairly capable individual and I do not feel that I've failed in any aspect of WoW. Even if I had not been successful at something that you may find important, keep in mind that Warcraft is simply a virtual world where the only real goals and objectives are those we make for ourselves. My personal goal in the WoW game setting is to have fun.

If anything, being a successful ganker is more challenging and more stimulating than farming mobs or instances, which are static encounters where every move of every encounter is scripted and expected. When I go to Duskwood, for example, I never know how long it will be someone calls in the level 70 (and/or group of 70s) to attempt to fend me (and/or my group) off. I would wager to say that ganking is much more challenging and, more importantly, less boring than running any encounter that is 'on farm status.'

And I'd like to ask an honest question to those of you who dislike 'the gank' yet opt to play on a PvP server? Why? The usual answer I get is that people want the option to PvP but would only do so in a fair and honorable situation. I do not give this answer much credibility, as fair and honorable PvP encounters are always allowed on PvE servers through duels and battlegrounds. If you don't want to gank/be ganked then play PvE.

To play on a PvP server is to agree to the possibility of non-consensual PvP. I first played WoW on a PvE server, where the only challenges were mobs with AI intentionally dumbed-down so that even a child can defeat them. Almost two years ago I switched to a PvP server and I will never look back. Now there is always the very real chance of an opposing faction member throwing some human intelligence and a real challenge into the equation. I LOVE this aspect of the game.


Hint for when you're being ganked repeatedly:
As someone suggested earlier in this thread, think of ganking as a game of cat and mouse. It IS a game that you CAN win. If you're getting corpse camped, the best way for the mouse to defeat the cat is to not be there. Take a 10 minute break (Yes, there is life outside WoW!) or play another character for a while. Leave your would-be assailant sitting there, wasting him time. You win! Easy!


If any of you have a question for me, go ahead and ask. I'll do my best to answer directly.

119.

Aren't you all overanalysing this beyond the realm of reasonability ?

I gank in my game on a daily basis. Is this griefing in the context in which I do it, no it is not. Would I exhibit the same behaviour in WoW then yes, it would.

Equating ganking to griefing is wholly dependent on the context the behaviour can be placed in. As an example of ganking in player versus player combat within MMO's one could categories two types of pvp combat gameplay:

the "pistols at dawn" type, absed on the honourable duel.

the "competitive warfare" type, based on team effectivity across a wide variety of activities within the VW.

Where WoW and for example Guildwars are typically "pistols at dawn" type environments (or designed on that basis but not sufficiently restricted to protect that basis in the case of WoW), Eve Online is your contemporary example of the second type.

In the latter VW, power is a goal, and combat is a tool. "Fairness" only exists on the overall level, but never on the individual encounter level, and that is a design feature, not a fault that leads to rampant giefing.

Determine the context, then determine the assertion.
Quoting respected but rather out of place philosphists doesn't help when there's no context for a discussion.

120.

deschain wrote:

In fact, it's not that the PvP server system just encourages ganking: it's actually dependent on ganking. Otherwise you only have consensual PvP, which is exactly the same as what you have on a PvE server.

Actually, this isn't true. One could easily imagine a system in which there is open PvP but a set of shared conventions about ethical ("honorable") engagement emerged. This would not be the equivalent of a coded PvE solution, where flagging is elective.

121.

@Softserv

"If anything, being a successful ganker is more challenging and more stimulating than farming mobs or instances, which are static encounters where every move of every encounter is scripted and expected."

I can understand this for PvP in general - 'real people are more unpredictable than AI'. But not for ganking [as defined in this thread] killing another player so much lower in level/power/etc that the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

In your specific example the unpredictability is

"When I go to Duskwood, for example, I never know how long it will be someone calls in the level 70 (and/or group of 70s) to attempt to fend me (and/or my group) off."

If the joy is dodging or fighting others of equivalent power then why not do that?

You're either being disingenuous or I'm slow on the uptake. Lets assume the later. Can you explain again how killing lower level players is more challenging than killing high/equal level mobs or players?

122.

Thomas said:

"One could easily imagine a system in which there is open PvP but a set of shared conventions about ethical ("honorable") engagement emerged."

But that's my point. If you have a set of shared conventions, it's consensual, either due to social conventions, or because the devs impose it through the server ruleset which the player chose when he/she rolled up the toon. Which implies a measure of safety that is intentionally supposed to be absent on PvP servers.

123.

softserv wrote:

One notion I'd like to shoot down right off the bat is that gankers gank because they are incapable of being 'successful' elsewhere in the game

I don't think anyone said this. After all, how could a player get to a high level without some competence? But your comment is incredibly helpful in several ways. Thanks for the post. Here are some off-the-cuff responses.

The meta-game argument about how long it takes for reinforcements to come in is, frankly, one of the best arguments against the claim I've made here. But there have certainly been plenty of cases where I've seen someone ganked and the ganker is long gone before any reinforcements had a chance of arriving. I guess I'd like to hear more to be convinced that the chance of a creative and effective response on the part of the gankee that you talk about (see, the contingency is crucial in our conversations, not just to me) is more than vanishingly small.

Why play on PvP if you don't like the non-consensual PvP? Speaking personally, it was because I wanted to play with friends. On the honorable question, see my comment just above.

@Peter: Your criticism is misplaced. I went out of my way to acknowledge that the context is quite important, and took what steps I could to narrow the scope to a kind of ganking that doesn't apply everywhere (this is a sound form of analytical reasoning via an ideal type). And if you give me a convincing reason why any philosopher I've mentioned is out of place, I'll gladly leave off the references from here on out. The trouble is, they're *all* thinkers who give pride of place to the need to contextualize questions (without falling into the trap of relativism), so I wish you luck :).

124.

@deschain: Yes, but I'm saying that we must be careful not to call those two eventualities identical ("exactly the same"). There is a world of difference, as it were, in what those worlds would look like and the subsequent emergent effects that we might expect to see.

(Added for clarity: And that's enough of a difference that someone might want to play on one and not the other, for example.)

125.

@JuJutsu: Great question. I'm very interested in softserv's responses.

126.

I would argue that ganking needs to exist in order to create a more interesting form of play. (This argument has been made before, I.E. Bartle)When people gank inside an open PVP world I would agree that there is a certain power trip/ego achievement going on, but shouldn't players expect to be killed off during their ventures into contested or opposing territories? Doesn’t that make it more thrilling or adventurous? Obviously ganking does get out of control and cause moments of frustration. (Especially when they are spawn campers.) What about griefing inside the global chat or to single players as a form of verbal play? Or is smack talk not relevant to the game?

127.

(I think some people are using a different definition of "gank" and not paying attention to the extremely narrow meaning that Thomas used in the OP.)

The video that Softserv links to above disgusts me because of the bad game play. It's a great example of ganking in WoW though. The gankee has no defense. The ganker takes no risk. I have a low opinion of Softserv for the same reason Samuel Johnson would (or Ann Landers or whoever said this first): "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."

Blizzard must know this occurs. They've done nothing to change it for two years. Why? What do they like about this mechanic?

Should Softserv's behavior be banned though? Evil villains should be able to commit horrible crimes. Tribal warriors should be able to kill their enemy. The gank features large in many stories. I think if WoW's open PvP game play was better balanced, we probably wouldn't have this discussion.

128.

@Softserv:

Your video showed no skill whatsoever. "The best video" which has been rated 3 times and viewed 200 or so? Proper wording would have been: "a video I made to glorify my nefarious exploits" . . . not making it out to be "good" in any way.

Several points:

1) You fought using a character capable of stealthing at will. This means that even when the "cavalry" was called you had "an out" as they could (frequently) not see you. Your risk was minimal. Your excuse that it is "exciting" is thus "do they show up at the exact second that I am one-shotting someone" . . . it would be a statistical anomaly if someone did manage to nail you. Odds are with you.

2) You fought with a character 30-40 (and now up to 50) levels higher than your prey. You one-shotted almost everyone you attacked. You deliberately ran down those who attempted to retreat and it was a foregone conclusion that they WOULD die. Again, odds totally skewed in your favor. If 10 of those characters all attacked you they'd be hard-pressed to take you out before you killed them off. (4 rogues and a druid coordinated at level 30 can kill a level 60, but it's amazingly hard.)

3) You corpse-humped half the people you killed. How does this demonstrate any skill? How does this tie into your desire to have meaningful fights? Does corpse huming translate to "log on your main and come find me" . . . ?

4) I'd suggest you play a game worth playing if you find WoW too easy. There are plenty of them out there, considering WoW is the most simplistic MMO on the market. It might save you from your complaints of boredom and predictability. Then again, I suspect you'll just grief in some other way because you enjoy hurting other players. Which is probably a good thing to simply admit and get over with. Denial sucks. :)

129.

I must admit that I did not read a lot of the comments here but I must say Thomas that you seem to have very limited experience with PvP and ganking. The debate with ganking really can not be singled down to the evidence solely provided by WoW.

You must remember as well that WoW being a hugely popular game has a more broader range of society playing it and therefore you will see more of the "power trip" ganking mentality that you seem to be describing in the article.

Talking to people who have played true FFA pvp ( WoW in a lot of PvPers minds is not true FFA )will give you more of an idea of the origins of ganking and why it is done. WoW has a twisted sense of PvP and if you look for around at developer comments from way back they intended this because they wanted to foster a huge hatred between the factions.

A few examples of why someone such as me ( who I don't consider have power problems ) would gank someone in WoW.
- you just got ganked yourself ( high level this equates to a situation like 5vYou )
- as stated before to get real competition to you ( there is a global warning channel )
- you really just want to see dead bodies everywhere, i don't consider this power tripping sure you could go into a level 20 dungeon but it is just not the same as seeing a field full of bodies and skeletons and dead guards ( hillsbrad foothills pvp ) everywhere
- the lower level did something really retarded like come up and hit you, /rude, or something ( this would translate to a lot of people as threatening your "dominance" as a higher level and therefore they need a lesson in pain )

That was just some examples of WoW. WoW pvp in itself is pretty trivial and though you might not think so is relfective of the game. The PvE in WoW is also pretty trivial when you get down to it.

Ganking in other games that are actually slanted for PvP is far more reaching in reasons and such then WoW. In shadowbane for example you needed huge sums of gold to upkeep your city. You could go kill the same mob 3000 times or you could go hunt low level characters and just take the gold that they had from killing monsters. Which one is likely to be more fun? With your WoW experience you might says mobs. With a shadowbane experience you would go batshit insane trying to get gold if you never "spiced" it up by actually killing people.

In essence I guess I am just saying that ganking can be like you described but it can also, and in most cases where the game is actually built for pvp, be an integral part of the game.

To get a better understanding of where I am coming from I direct you to this:
http://www.guildvsguild.com/nuke/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=502
It explains a lot of what most actual "real" PvPers like to see.

130.
I'm asserting that whatever it is they *think* they're doing, and whatever kind of meaning it has for them, it *isn't* a game (from an analytical point of view), and the meaning it has is, well, pretty shallow in the long run. Yes, this is the kind of stance that makes relativists' wince (and it's why Prok's accusation of me as a relativist is particularly perplexing), but if we are utterly beholden to the accounts people give of their own actions, then we *will* be caught in a relativist trap.

Thomas, I love it. First, you didn't personally offend me, I just said your ballsy to write a whole portion of the game because you don't value it.

As to your responses... I'm not suggesting you take their argument that it's fun as some sort of answer. But maybe you could look at the number of gankers/griefers and see at least some of those poor souls with no meaning in their life must be gaining some sort of enjoyment from the process.

As for your not a game argument. I'll use that which you liked last time, it's silly. The definition of a game is something that you play. Are you suggesting the gankers aren't playing the game? Again, your lack of understanding if their type of game play doesn't invalidate it as a whole.

To use an analogy, it's like saving musicians can't possibly be enjoying themselves because you don't get any enjoyment from playing an instrument. It's a very short sighted and shallow view point.

Oh, and your interesting point about a relativist trap to dismiss their point of view is quite funny. Good one there.

131.

I just wanted to say too that some people actually try to put the rpg into the game as well. We don't necessarily even take in account of the odds. Killing low levels, high levels, it is all the same. Sure sometimes you do know that person can't fight back but its just a part of playing on the pvp server.

Guess here is a quote that can some it up for a lot of us bloodthirsty pvpers.

Mongol General: Wrong! Conan, what is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!
Mongol General: That is good.

132.

pvpdoneright brings up a really good about not limiting this discussion to WoW. Ganking has been going on since the beginning of MMOs and definitely isn't half as prevalent in WoW as some others.

133.

@Mathew Reuther

It is a shame you are so closed-minded on the subject and that you resort to the oh-so typical put-downs that show no real attempt to understand the topic at hand, but I will address your points anyways.

1) When 'the cavalry' comes out I attempt to kill them repeatedly until they either have to leave or to call even more friends. If they call some friends I will attempt to pick off the weakest of the other high levels and escape. If they bring a LOT of high levels to thwart me, I feel honored that I'm being treated with the respect of an outdoor raid boss. At that point I switch toons and let the raid of anti-gankers sit on their thumbs until they finally realise that I'm gone.

2) Nobody has ever suggested that it is a challenge for a well-geared 60 to kill a handful of low level characters. And, if you read my earlier post, it is most decidedly NOT a foregone conclusion that they will be killed by me repeatedly. Please read the note on the mouse can beat the cat, as I already have explained this.

3) Pressing the sit/stand button does not demonstrate any skill whatsoever. What would give you that idea? And yes, a good corpse-hump is intended as a taunt. I have found it MUCH more effective than doing a /taunt emote.

4) I thoroughly enjoy WoW. PvP on a PvP server is one of the aspects I enjoy.

Mathew, I would entreat you to discuss things civily instead of resorting to name-calling and making assumptions about what I enjoy. I'm giving you a chance to ask real questions to someone who enjoys ganking so that perhaps you can understand it better. If I wanted to hear closed-minded self-important whining I would just go to the Barrens.

Do you have an answer to why you would play on a PvP server if you don't want to be involved on either side of ganking?

134.

@Matthew: Well, I limited this discussion for the reason that seems obvious to many who have contributed, but is apparently lost on a few -- it makes the topic more manageable. We can't talk about everything that is defined as ganking, everywhere -- it's just impractical. What's interesting to me is how many people want to broaden my argument just so they can finds grounds to criticize it.

You also wrote,

The definition of a game is something that you play.

That's not the definition I'm working from, and it's not one you'll find many working from around here. It is a layperson's definition from a particular cultural worldview, and therefore apparently seems like common sense to you, but the problem with it is that it is not useful. It is like someone saying, "The government is always right because governments are right by definition." It always strikes me as a little strange that we're willing to accept that what an economist means by, say, a currency or commodity, may be different from a lay perspective, and that it's not wrong just for being a more precise use of an ordinary term (in fact, quite the opposite -- we are ready to assume they're right), but when it comes to things that strike a little more close to home (culturally-charged things), people get very parochial.

135.

@softserv: I gave you an answer, and I'm also interested to hear your replies to my questions above. I also have to say that while I appreciate your willingness to answer these questions in a hostile environment, I think some of the questions (raised by others and me) still stand. What I thought was so interesting about your post is the way you framed ganking as involving a performative challenge (*before* equivalent levels get there), but the video and points raised by Mathew and Ken above lead me to wonder just how worthy a challenge it is for you.

136.

"it makes the topic more manageable."

"What's interesting to me is how many people want to broaden my argument just so they can finds grounds to criticize it."

Also interesting is your desire to bring up a single instance in an ongoing and much larger reason/problem of why people gank to find grounds to prove your point.

137.

I feel that whether you call WoW a game, a virtual world or an online community is merely a matter of personal preference. Different people think of it in different ways and enjoy different aspects of it.

I would not doubt that someone else enjoys a given aspect just because I do not enjoy it.

138.

@pvpdoneright: You're certainly welcome to take up the larger problem if you like, pvpdoneright (there is, after all, a thread on the larger issues right nearby), but I'm not bringing up a single instance, I'm bringing up a single kind of case. If you can't refute my claims within the scope of how I framed them, that 's not my problem. In fact, I've already conceded a lot of points that you were trying to make: that a lot of metacontextual (to use Raph's term) stuff can make ganking "fit" into any of a number of interpretive systems, and furthermore (of course) that different games have different kinds of contextual stuff built into them. But, like Tim said, it's pretty tendentious to claim that all gankers in WoW, all the time, are acting based on, say, faction rivalry. We all know that acts of ganking that demand no skill on the part of the ganker and which do not lead to some grand quasi-"boss" fight happen all the time. Do we seriously think that all gankers are actually honorable souls or, failing that, that they're all engaged in some social act (within a guild, perhaps) to achieve some degree of group-meaningful notoriousness? I actually think the latter is not to be lauded either (it's a shallow kind of meaning), but it seems even from the examples introduced here that just as often gankers are doing what they're doing totally alone.

139.

Well I don't mean to offend you and it was risky me even posting here as TN is pretty hardcore and mostly I am a lurker. I just tired to post something to try to explain how I felt. Calling everyone who ganks in WoW people with power problems in real life getting their jollies off who are only taking away from the game seemed a little extreme to me and got me to post.

I do concede that yes there are what I would say "pure" gankers in that they simply gank just to piss other people off but there are sociopaths in this world. I attribute the fact that you see more of this behavior in WoW because 1. it is realtively easy to become powerful 2. there is a larger population other games.

I just felt compelled to say something. The WoW designers made pvp the way it is to harbor hatred for the other side. What better way then to allow someone practially invincible to someone kill that someone. This is how I'm refuting the statement in your title of "ganking the meaning out of games". Being ganked IS part of the meaning of WoW.

140.

@Softserv:

(Inline quotes for ease of reference.)

"It is a shame you are so closed-minded on the subject and that you resort to the oh-so typical put-downs that show no real attempt to understand the topic at hand, but I will address your points anyways."

I am intimately familiar with the subject at hand, and I am not engaging in "putting you down" . . . something ludicrous when you consider the level you have brought yourself down to by your own actions. I appreciate the fact that you are responding.

"1) When 'the cavalry' comes out I attempt to kill them repeatedly until they either have to leave or to call even more friends. If they call some friends I will attempt to pick off the weakest of the other high levels and escape. If they bring a LOT of high levels to thwart me, I feel honored that I'm being treated with the respect of an outdoor raid boss. At that point I switch toons and let the raid of anti-gankers sit on their thumbs until they finally realise that I'm gone."

Yes, but this is a choice you are able to make. You can fight or you can flee. Or you can log out and waste the time of individuals who have come to respond to your threat. You can, in essence, inconvenience a disproportionately large number of people no matter what you do. You can grief anyone at any time, be it by stealthed one-shots or by avoiding the cavalry.

"2) Nobody has ever suggested that it is a challenge for a well-geared 60 to kill a handful of low level characters. And, if you read my earlier post, it is most decidedly NOT a foregone conclusion that they will be killed by me repeatedly. Please read the note on the mouse can beat the cat, as I already have explained this."

Ah. Your logic is terribly, horribly flawed (not a shock) here. Say you have 20 people who are adventuring in the zone, you kill a few of them, then a few more, then a group of four, and then 3 of them log out for 10 minutes as you suggest . . . at which point 17 others remain for you to kill. Your thwory is: 20 human beings must stop playing for 10 minutes in order to stop you from killing them. That's called a Denial of Service attack and is illegal. Look up the relevant criminal entires if you care to. Do I think anyone will prosecute you? Nah. But you're just as much of a miscreant as someone who floods an ISP, only the context of the game allows you to act in this manner.

"3) Pressing the sit/stand button does not demonstrate any skill whatsoever. What would give you that idea? And yes, a good corpse-hump is intended as a taunt. I have found it MUCH more effective than doing a /taunt emote."

Yes, but there's no effect other than an attempt to add insult to injury. It's petty (again, no shock) and meaningless. The only thing it does is cause discomfort to other humans. HUMANS. Not mobs. Not pieces of code. Living, breathing individuals who are sitting behind their desks. You're deliberately insulting THEM by fucking their inert bodies. But I strongly suspect you don't see them as humans in any way. "Smart mobs" is about as far as it goes in your head.

"4) I thoroughly enjoy WoW. PvP on a PvP server is one of the aspects I enjoy."

By your own admission above you do not enjoy WoW's predictability and dimensionless gameplay. I merely suggest you attempt to challenge yourself a bit more as it might result in more enjoyment. Then again, I am of the opinion that you prefer to go for the lowest common denominator.

"Mathew, I would entreat you to discuss things civily instead of resorting to name-calling and making assumptions about what I enjoy. I'm giving you a chance to ask real questions to someone who enjoys ganking so that perhaps you can understand it better. If I wanted to hear closed-minded self-important whining I would just go to the Barrens."

Civility? I am being civil. Were I not civil I would begin to resemble Prok's rants. My opinions regarding the ability level which you have displayed are honest and not mine alone. I am sorry if you find that demeaning, however I am not going to make you feel better by praising your skills. You have not demonstrated any. I've seen immensely good PvP videos where people ran a huge risk of dying, fought multiple like-level opponents and overcame their enemies much of the time. This was not indicative of anything other than pure griefing, and I refuse to see it as what it is not.

I have not called you any names unless you count me calling you a griefer. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but repeat killing people 40 levels below you is generally considered griefing, no matter WHAT the rules of the PvP environment you are in.

"Do you have an answer to why you would play on a PvP server if you don't want to be involved on either side of ganking?"

Because of the fact that it is possible to find fair, honest fights. Because of the fact that it is possible to kill people who obstruct your access to content, or those who act in a manner which is contrary to your guild/party/personal needs. But it's not necessary to kill the weak or to abuse the ability to kill with impunity. And as Thomas pointed out, to play with friends. I've played on PvP servers quite happily in the past with no desire to fuck low level corpses. I've killed people like you, and been ganked by people like you. I've also played with some very good, skilled individuals and fought a number of excellent opponents whose adherence to the "moral highground" (I would call it humanity, or empathy) was as strong as my own.

Just because you CAN do something in a game does not mean you SHOULD. Choice remains in our own hands, and if you choose to lower yourself to the level of ganking scum you cannot expect that people will agree that it's "ok" to do so, or that you show any kind of skill.

141.

@Softserv:

(Inline quotes for ease of reference.)

"It is a shame you are so closed-minded on the subject and that you resort to the oh-so typical put-downs that show no real attempt to understand the topic at hand, but I will address your points anyways."

I am intimately familiar with the subject at hand, and I am not engaging in "putting you down" . . . something ludicrous when you consider the level you have brought yourself down to by your own actions. I appreciate the fact that you are responding.

"1) When 'the cavalry' comes out I attempt to kill them repeatedly until they either have to leave or to call even more friends. If they call some friends I will attempt to pick off the weakest of the other high levels and escape. If they bring a LOT of high levels to thwart me, I feel honored that I'm being treated with the respect of an outdoor raid boss. At that point I switch toons and let the raid of anti-gankers sit on their thumbs until they finally realise that I'm gone."

Yes, but this is a choice you are able to make. You can fight or you can flee. Or you can log out and waste the time of individuals who have come to respond to your threat. You can, in essence, inconvenience a disproportionately large number of people no matter what you do. You can grief anyone at any time, be it by stealthed one-shots or by avoiding the cavalry.

"2) Nobody has ever suggested that it is a challenge for a well-geared 60 to kill a handful of low level characters. And, if you read my earlier post, it is most decidedly NOT a foregone conclusion that they will be killed by me repeatedly. Please read the note on the mouse can beat the cat, as I already have explained this."

Ah. Your logic is terribly, horribly flawed (not a shock) here. Say you have 20 people who are adventuring in the zone, you kill a few of them, then a few more, then a group of four, and then 3 of them log out for 10 minutes as you suggest . . . at which point 17 others remain for you to kill. Your thwory is: 20 human beings must stop playing for 10 minutes in order to stop you from killing them. That's called a Denial of Service attack and is illegal. Look up the relevant criminal entires if you care to. Do I think anyone will prosecute you? Nah. But you're just as much of a miscreant as someone who floods an ISP, only the context of the game allows you to act in this manner.

"3) Pressing the sit/stand button does not demonstrate any skill whatsoever. What would give you that idea? And yes, a good corpse-hump is intended as a taunt. I have found it MUCH more effective than doing a /taunt emote."

Yes, but there's no effect other than an attempt to add insult to injury. It's petty (again, no shock) and meaningless. The only thing it does is cause discomfort to other humans. HUMANS. Not mobs. Not pieces of code. Living, breathing individuals who are sitting behind their desks. You're deliberately insulting THEM by fucking their inert bodies. But I strongly suspect you don't see them as humans in any way. "Smart mobs" is about as far as it goes in your head.

"4) I thoroughly enjoy WoW. PvP on a PvP server is one of the aspects I enjoy."

By your own admission above you do not enjoy WoW's predictability and dimensionless gameplay. I merely suggest you attempt to challenge yourself a bit more as it might result in more enjoyment. Then again, I am of the opinion that you prefer to go for the lowest common denominator.

"Mathew, I would entreat you to discuss things civily instead of resorting to name-calling and making assumptions about what I enjoy. I'm giving you a chance to ask real questions to someone who enjoys ganking so that perhaps you can understand it better. If I wanted to hear closed-minded self-important whining I would just go to the Barrens."

Civility? I am being civil. Were I not civil I would begin to resemble Prok's rants. My opinions regarding the ability level which you have displayed are honest and not mine alone. I am sorry if you find that demeaning, however I am not going to make you feel better by praising your skills. You have not demonstrated any. I've seen immensely good PvP videos where people ran a huge risk of dying, fought multiple like-level opponents and overcame their enemies much of the time. This was not indicative of anything other than pure griefing, and I refuse to see it as what it is not.

I have not called you any names unless you count me calling you a griefer. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but repeat killing people 40 levels below you is generally considered griefing, no matter WHAT the rules of the PvP environment you are in.

"Do you have an answer to why you would play on a PvP server if you don't want to be involved on either side of ganking?"

Because of the fact that it is possible to find fair, honest fights. Because of the fact that it is possible to kill people who obstruct your access to content, or those who act in a manner which is contrary to your guild/party/personal needs. But it's not necessary to kill the weak or to abuse the ability to kill with impunity. And as Thomas pointed out, to play with friends. I've played on PvP servers quite happily in the past with no desire to fuck low level corpses. I've killed people like you, and been ganked by people like you. I've also played with some very good, skilled individuals and fought a number of excellent opponents whose adherence to the "moral highground" (I would call it humanity, or empathy) was as strong as my own.

Just because you CAN do something in a game does not mean you SHOULD. Choice remains in our own hands, and if you choose to lower yourself to the level of ganking scum you cannot expect that people will agree that it's "ok" to do so, or that you show any kind of skill.

142.

@pvpdoneright:

I am unsure as to the veracity of your standpoint regarding ganking in WoW. I think that when you're talking about zone control and legitimate contested areas (such as those where both Horde and Alliance have outposts) you may have a point that killing lower level characters may have a purpose, when you walk into a zone that is purely oriented towards the opposing side and slay their lower level characters repeatedly it is a different story.

While you may do so it is not necessarily "right" to do so. I would be suprised if the Duskwood ganking discussed here is something that the WoW design team anticipated and signed off on. The fact that it exists is maybe not deemed worthy of a fix, fine, but I tend to suspect that it's not up on the wall with the big list of: "Things we did right!"

143.

I find this argument to be rather absurd. If we figure that the purpose of these games are entertainment, than these moral arguments simply don't apply.

People enjoy movies about Bank heists because you can feel a bit of the immoral thrill of theft, deception and rebellion. You leave the movie theater having indulged an immoral part of your pysche without actually committing an immoral act. This has always been a seductive component of popular entertainment.

Now we have the gankers, the griefers. These comments about them being "no different" that real life criminals and sociopaths are the truely disgusting moral relativism happening here.

Are they acting like assholes? Yes. Are they doing so in the least damaging environment possible that one can indulge the petty & vindictive sides of their personality? Yes they are, and I'm glad they do.

I doubt any of the anti-griefer crowd are out protesting Rap Music for it's celebration of immorality or Grand Theft Auto for it's invitation to participate in crime for fun. That's because just about everybody has immoral impulses that they indulge through some sort of art, and there's nothing wrong with that, and it's probably healthy.

Entertainment becomes tiresome & dull when forced to adhere to the strict moral codes that we all strive to uphold in our real lives. Let's not ask for that.

144.

@JuJutsu, you have several good questions. I'm definately not being disingenuous and I doubt that you are slow. I just think that we come from different viewpoints, so I will try to explain mine a bit more.

The joy is not just in stirring up the cavalry, that is just an icing on the cake. I think perhaps one of the gank aspects I enjoy most is to 'take over' an area, with Raven Hill Cemetary in Duskwood being my favorite. Eventually, low level characters all leave the area (and I get bored and leave) or the reinforcements come. Maybe it is a bit like 'capturing the flag' when I do this.

Again I will admit that the gank itself is not challenging. I can and do regularly engage in PvP against alliance toons that are my level or higher, and that is a rush in and of itself. Also, it is highly entertaining (to me at least) to get to snipe a low level or weaker character from under the noses of high level defenders, whether or not I die in the process.


@Thomas, as for the gankee being allowed enough time to rally an 'anti-gank' defense, I usually spend anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours in Duskwood when I head out there. This is, more often that not, plenty of time for gankees to summon high level assistance. I would wager to say that level 60+ defenders show up on the scene 9 times out of 10 when I go out ganking. I would also estimate that I get killed at least one time in most of my ganking expeditions and am often even forced to logout/retreat.

@Mathew Reuther
You say that you are not putting me down, yet you continue to atttempt to insult me with comments like referring to "the level you have brought yourself down to." You call me "petty," say that it is no shock that my logic is horribly flawed and call me "scum." You sir, are nothing more than a closed-minded flaming forum troll and deserve no further response. Good day.

To the rest of you, this is a very interesting discussion. It is hard to pinpoint why any of us like certain things, but talking about it helps bring about some answers.

145.

"I would be suprised if the Duskwood ganking discussed here is something that the WoW design team anticipated and signed off on."

Just going around and killing people randomly I don't think they signed off on. Going to the town and slaughtering anyone an everythinig I think they orginally did.

If you followed WoW before it was even in beta it was a LOT more pvp based then what it has now become, even more pvp based then what originally was in beta and early retail.

Sadly, it seems the major problem of "ganking for no reason" stems from that for the most part I think pvp was never originally what it intended to be and WoW focused more on its Pve leaving PvP as an entertaining side dish.

As far as me personally have I ganked? yes. I hope that doesn't invalidate everything I say in your eyes. I have also had the chance to gank and have not. Lots of the times I gank I have perexisting qualifications though such as: moronic names, your race, your guild, i decided im going from point A to point B and slaughtering everything I see.

Since the expansion some interesting tidbits I will share though that make this debate interesting.....

The expansion added levels 61-70 and at least on my server practically every single person did not gank anyone else while leveling up. This could be the perceived idea that you're not getting away with it as every zone was overpopulated. Most ganking that did occur was rogues as they can escape. However, even after the zones thinning out you did not see a lot of ganking. People just go about leveling beside one another even on this pvp server. Here is the kicker. Every single person at max level that I have seen now tries to kill me. Why? Why no violence 61-69 then when they hit the "power limit" its balls the wall carnage with everyone they see? This lends to a lot of the "power trip" mentality as they see simply that because I'm not level 70 they have a greater chance of killing me. Most people suck though and the level difference doesn't help as much as they think.

146.

In GTA you can freely break moral codes without impacting anyone. In Fable you can do the same.

In any social game (one where your actions can be viewed by or directed at others) the level of morality which you display is directly relevant to other human beings.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a "carebear" or someone who prefers to play "me vs. da monstahs" all the time. I have no problem with conflict and competition. The key word in the last line being "and" . . . because there is no competition involved in pure ganking.

Morality is inherent to the human condition. Attempts to absolve oneself from moral quandires are simply demeaning to the other humans involved.

I find that ganking has a strongly amoral aspect to it, and thus is akin to being a jerk in real life. Is it the same as being a rapist or murderer? No. Is it the same as being someone who goes out of their way to invonvenience others by acting in the most selfinsh manner possible while not breaking any laws? Yes.

147.

Thomas

That's not the definition I'm working from, and it's not one you'll find many working from around here. It is a layperson's definition from a particular cultural worldview, and therefore apparently seems like common sense to you, but the problem with it is that it is not useful.
Well, beside the fact that dictionary.com seems to back up my pedestrian, er cultural view of of what a game is, I'll have to refuse to listen to your horrible analogy comparing my definition of gaming to saying the government is always right because to believe anything but my own point of view as right is to invite relativism into the conversation and that's a relativist trap as you have so well defined a few comments up.

Really, I'm going to give up at this point. I've got my question of where you're coming from answered and I think further discussion will kill me.

148.

@pvpdoneright
I think a huge part of the lack of ganking 60-69 is because people have other things to do in leveling, questing and 5-man instancing. Right now when someone hits 70 there isn't nearly as much productive to do, especially before more people make 70 and keyed to start raiding again.

149.

Here is a question Mathew Reuther is ganking the killing of anyone that doesnt not have a chance in hell to stop it or is ganking the act of going out of your way for an extended period of time to only cause someone less powerful distress.

Some people would say just killing a person weaker is ganking. Personally I would consider myself only ganking and amoral if I was purposefully riding around causing as much distress as I possibly could.

Camping people for even 5minutes and just riding around a lower level zone looking for people to gank repeatedly to me is amoral. Going through a lower level zone for some reason (travel, quest, profession, etc) and killing a lower level once just by flicking my wrist and then continuing on my way is in my mind not amoral and simply part of the games atmosphere/environment.

Regardless if it is amoral or not lower levels having to overcome obstacles teaches them valuable pvp lessons (such as escape) they would otherwise not get because this late into the game a lot of the servers have very very low populations in lower level zones.

150.

"Right now when someone hits 70 there isn't nearly as much productive to do, especially before more people make 70 and keyed to start raiding again."

One might tend to think that but there are a lot of level 70s on this server already and it only takes 5-10 people right now to do stuff. Not to mention arena matches, leveling up professions, getting reputation for quests and rewards.

151.

@Softserv:

I've insulted you no more than you insult a single person in one kill. Grow a spine and respond to my points. Life isn't always about one-shots, and it certainly isn't when neither your words nor mine will cause the other to be forcibly removed from the conversation.

Definitions for you so you can see that I am merely utilizing the English language and not calling you names:

petty: "having little or no importance or significance"

(In other words, you fucking corpses is not a signifigant act in the context fo the game as it gives you no mana, no hp, and wards off no evil juju.)

level: "the magnitude of a quantity considered in relation to an arbitrary reference value"

(In this case referencing morality, your actions indicating your low moral standing while engaging in them.)

scum: "a low, vile, or worthless person or group of people"

(A very minor epithet not even remotely resembling the words which crossed the lips of the guy you killed 8 times in your video. You have no worth while engaged in ganking. You are not a productive individual. You are not causing gameplay to emerge by your actions.)

If you had read the thread a bit more carefully you'd probably realize that I am not saying that it's not understandable that people gank or that they are criminals who deserve to be locked up in an asylum. What I am saying is that the behavior evidenced by those individuals who habitually do so in gross manners is often defended by them with layers of rationalization which range from considering themselves to be victims ("you're criticizing my fun") to mitigating the impact those actions have ("it's just a game, you know, you can go watch TV if you don't like it") . . . Maybe Mr. Level 20 Mage actually wants to wear some Tier3 armor some day too. Maybe killing him (2d6) times isn't really too much fun for him, and maybe his cable is out . . .

152.

@pvpdoneright:

I think there's varying levels of ganking, just as there are varying levels of asocial behavior in real life. If you kill someone who is vulnerable with little or no chance of failure it is a gank. Doing so habitually makes you more amoral than if you simply do it once or twice on rare occasions.

I think if you make an entire video out of yourself ganking and include repeat kill stats in it you have swung further towards asocial behavior than someone who kills a newbie that happened to be running cross-country through a higher level zone. (To pick up a flightpath for example.)

153.

I have to say that this most recent exchange between pvpdoneright, mathew, and softserv (if we can keep it civil, folks), is really, really enlightening to me. The idea that there *are* grounds for developing, in conversation or through practice, a set of ethics about PvP behavior is quite encouraging. What I find most compelling is the seeming readiness on both sides to acknowledge that PvP for no external reasons, and where the outcome has no challenge, is not moral or not meaningful. That's a start right there. Thanks to you all.

I'm away for quite a bit of the rest of the day. Please don't tear the place up while I'm gone.

154.

Oh, one question before I head out: If challengeless ganking with no external purpose is objectionable by all (it seems it is), then what kinds of external purposes legitimize it, if any? Is it okay if the gameworld's narrative acknowledges and even celebrates it? Is it okay if one's guild is having a weekly contest of how many female gnome toons can be killed and corpse-humped? Does it make sense to say that it is only legitimate if the player that is ganked shares in that external narrative (which would exclude things like the intra-guild contest)?

This may connect to Mathew's significant point that to play against other humans generates a moral load that can't be imagined away, no matter what the external systems of meaning are that surround the possible actions in the game world. To me, that aligns nicely with the idea that to compete against another human being on a level (enough) playing-field can generate meaningful experience in and of itself.

155.

@Eric C

Who wrote this early on:

"Aren't there ever anti-griefers? Self-designated virtual vigilantes or Virtualantes (hehe) who lie in wait or chase prospective griefers and give them a taste of their own medicine?

If so, this playing out of human behaviour, may not make for Disneyfication, but it is interesting to me at least. And if as drama it interests players, the griefer vs antigriefer (virtualante) scenario may make the initial business loss worthwhile on a macro scale, bringing new players to the operation."

These are known as Anti-Pk's and in fact early on in UO and in (mostly) EQ (PVP servers) you could define guilds as 3 sorts:

PK
Anti-PK
Neutral

And in fact this type of activity (or "emergent game play" if thats your flavor) was the prevlaent mode of guild relations amongst larger guilds. Whats entertaining is that Anti-Pk's would actively hunt down and repreatedly slaughter PK'ers or groups of them, or in the case where one was found in a disadvatagious situation PK or Anti-PK that person was likely going to get ganked

amoral?

Well good and evil just depend on your point of view...right Yoda...er Obi Wan...er Machiavelli....er...Marcus...er Plato...whatever you get my drift...


156.

The correct answer is:
"Stop whining, n00b. Learn 2 play your class."

157.

>Prokofy is right and somebody here is wrong

I think one of the things that is useful to do on both of these threads here on ganking and griefing is to see how many of the posters are men in RL, and what their views tend to run as, and how many of the posters are women in RL (only a few) and what their views are -- and do the math. The kind of math that Thomas isn't doing in his math problem-solving.

My overall impression of TN tends to be that few women post on here, and when they are invited to be guest authors, they tend to then write about sex, in a type-cast way. *Yawn*.

158.

Regarding men and women:

I think that if you check the statistics men play in Virtual Worlds more often than women. By a noticable majority at that. Expanding upon this further: PvP (combat) gameplay is dominated by men in a greater majority than in standard VW play.

When you find women engaging in competitive behavior it is often in arenas which are more social. A good example is perhaps the outspoken nature with which some female gamers can be found engaging in political spheres within VWs. Advocacy and "non-violent" competitive (yet ostensibly PvP) arenas seem to draw more women (ratio-wise) than those directly related to combat. I have seen first-hand evidence of "griefer" behavior in non-combat spheres within a variety of VWs. In fact, I can point to an interesting "sub game" that happens between women who know each other socially within VWs and incorporates efforts to gain political power within established groups.

I would theorize that women are more inclined to attempt to exert control over "insubsantial" areas than the "substantial" ones such as direct combat. Not that women do not ever PvP or gank, or that they cannot be just as skilled as men. My wife is an exceptional player in her own right, but in terms of direct competition she limits herself to pure "games" (such as arena play) and political metagames. (That is, emergent gameplay as opposed to hard-coded systems.)

When my wife played on a PvP server with me she did not like being ganked any more than I did. I could not sense any different reaction aside from minor variations in how strong the response was. When we engaged in combat we did it against opponents of equivalent skill whenever possible, prefering to leave those who had no chance of survivial. I suppose to some extent that was the imposition of my own moral structure upon her, but considering how closely our RL morality lies to each other I would assume that given no external influence from me her conclusions would likely be the same: you don't prey on the weak for no reason.

(As a note, the current female guest author has not written anything about sex.)

159.

non WoW question to gank terminology experts: if I kill a nonhostile/ potential ally NPC in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which disrupts all the other NPCs, was not necessary to my gameplay, is there a term for this?
If I played an Oblivion mod that allows simple multiplayer (there is one), and I unknowingly kill what I thought was an NPC but in fact is another human player, is there a term for this? It isn't accidental ganking?

160.

1) You could call it stupidity if it causes you to block your access to gameplay. :)

2) It would technically be an incident of (perhaps-not-so)friendly fire. :)

Gank requires massive skill difference (or a target who is otherwise weakened) so you would have to determine what level the player was that you killed, or if they were perhaps AFK.

161.

@Softserv

"I think perhaps one of the gank aspects I enjoy most is to 'take over' an area, with Raven Hill Cemetary in Duskwood being my favorite. Eventually, low level characters all leave the area (and I get bored and leave) or the reinforcements come. Maybe it is a bit like 'capturing the flag' when I do this."

I think is an example of what Thomas was talking about in the original post and an example of the comment that triggered it for him. Consider the following [and set aside some of the more emtionally loaded words like impoverished for the moment]

"What I would like to suggest is that this kind of PvP is meaningless. Or, perhaps more precisely, that the meaning it has is so narrow, rationalized, and improverished that it is outside of, or rejects, the game in which it is situated. Games, as ends in and of themselves, are things that can generate new meanings and experiences. For the ganker, however, ganking is a means to other ends ("Personal best crit!"), not a potentially generative new experience."

Isn't the 'capture the flag' game external to the game so that the meaning [and enjoyment] that you derive is external to the game?

162.

@Prokofy

I think age matters as well but that could be because I'm a geezer.

I'm an old white male. I find ganking and other forms of griefing in games distasteful but interesting and worthy of academic study. I'm an academic myself for purposes of fuller disclosure.

Just to cover my rear....I've said harsh things about you before and I'm sure I will again in the future. I don't consider that 'blog griefing' although you might.
I might insult you but I won't ask that you post tits. That's just.....juvenile.

163.

JuJutsu : that's just...offensive :-) Are you not interested or am i not interesting ??!!
No pun intended JuJutsu, but what's there to academically study 'bout rudeness and lack of decency in human relationships ? Many ppls believes that we are comming from monkeys...if that's the truth, then i believe some of us are not comming enough , or at least -not yet. The point is that if your fun ( not YOURS, ofcourse )is to be scatological or " zoo " or " pedo " or whatever , the devs may discover that the majority of paying customers simply dont likes your behaviour; then you gonna find yourself out.
My statistics says that my worthy playerbase is on the age-range of 25-40. They shares some moral/ethical values. My best financial interrest is to kick you out. Well. It's not about me and you, ofcourse. The devs have to figure what's in their best interest;some of them will fail. At this momment , the devs fights to achieve players, as quantities. The next move will be to look for quality . The market becomes flooded with VWs and MMOs. It's the time for the Second Wave : the ones ( devs and gamerz as well ) able to learn from Pioneers. Ganking and griefing is not a good option anymore : the "post tits " type of gamer has not enough money /dedication to pay for it. But ofcourse some Games House prolly will have an offer for them too, for a price. It's just the big money and fun are not there.

164.

I'll chime in on the "ganking" is a part of gameplay side. solidly, even when there is no contest or no *isolated* purpose for the invidual kills.

There are of course larger purposes....generally rotating around, "a game with some ganking in it is more fun to play".

I preffer to play a game where i might be ganked. First, it implies that there is some competitive PvP Roleplay. Not PvP atheltic skill competition, but that factions should seek to gain advantage adn exploit advantage.

Second it is more exciting knowing that things are a bit dangrerous and unpredicable. I suppose a random MoB could be sent thru to terroize low levels instead, but it more fun to have a human adversery make that discretionary choice.

Third, the kill of a hopeless invidual by a higher level brings out much more social role playing than if a MoB had killed the player. The shout on chat elicits the people to drop their questing and come to your aid... reputations namees and proclivities develope...well lets just leave it at game play.

Game design, can buffer exploitation. Alterative areas of play, to wait out a safer time, reducing penalities of the death, "devine protection" or sending a CCC perahps to accompany and help protect you after repeated "ganks" are all more algorhimic solutions to restore balance if needed.

Its kinda shocking to me too, that people could so categorically denounce an element of game play that otheres find entertaining and strategic. But I guess my wife has a distaste for the whole computer genre and she won't check her tongue so I won't expect players to be more tolerant of different play styles than my wife of the whole genre.

165.

@Thomas: Good gravy, Tommy-me-boy... what a can of marginally-related wyrms you opened up. How 'bout taking on something lest controversial next time... like Holocaust denial?

I will now address your original topic, and try to stick to it as much and as closely as possible. In my usual style, I will open with an unrelated joke that hits the matter sideways in the pancreas...

There's a riddle we ask here in Columbus, Ohio: Q. What does it mean when there's a car, upside-down, on fire, smack in the middle of High Street? A. That Ohio State has either just won or lost to Michigan.

People in Columbus are bat-shit for the Buckeyes. And much of what occurs around the games has nothing to do with the game of football in terms of the creation of new meaning, contingency, etc. It is entertainment that is ancillary to the game. Now... some of that, of course, spills over into the game characteristics themselves, as the players have to live in Columbus, are kids of alumni, deal with the fan behaviors (good and bad) and are observers of the games as well as players. All well and good. We can separate out, pretty easily, "game as game" and "game as observed entertainment."

Or can we?

Are their fan behaviors that create contingency and meaning *around* games in the environment that are as meaningful, from a gaming standpoint, as the point-score-play portions of the game? For example, here in Columbus, getting (or "scoring") tickets to the Ohio/Michigan game is a huge deal. Getting good seats is a "major win." Again, we're in comfortable territory here, if we say that the "meta game" of being a fan has social, economic, territorial and other points that relate back to the game-game itself.

Why, then, do students riot in a similar fashion whether there's a win or a loss *after* a big game? Now, this doesn't always happen... but it happens enough to make it interesting to me as an observer. Is it just an excuse for bad behavior? Mob mentality? Guys Gone Wild?

I would suggest something more, and something that ends up lending a slight sheen of meaning to the narrow type of ganking Thomas holds out for examination here. I would say that acts such as these -- rioting, hooliganism, ganking, vandalism in certain cases -- are, essentially, sacrifices (of one of two sorts, and I'll get to that in a sec) that inflate the importance of the game itself in the mind(s) of the gankers.

To state it differently... If you just play the game, it's just a game. If you set fire to a car and flip it over in the middle of High Street, it's the FRIGGIN' MICHIGAN STATE GAME!!! If you just PvP, it's just a game. If you take time out of playing the game in a way that has "traditional" game meanings, it becomes something... else. What else depends on the meaning of the sacrifice. And here we go into that...

What do I mean by calling ganking a sacrifice of one of two sorts? I would suggest that a ganker (again, as defined by Thomas, above) is (subconsciously) sacrificing one (or possibly both) of the following:

1. The playtime, value and ego of those s/he is ganking.

2. His/her own time.

We've seen plenty of people who think that #1 is the case; gankers are, essentially, wreaking havoc in order to make others miserable. Or, if not explicitly doing so to be mean/evil/bullying, they understand that it is the case, and don't care. Boredom is partly at the root of #2.

[Quick break for my opinion: If you're playing on a PvP server and get ganked, tough crap. A) It's a game. B) It's a PvP server. C) It's a game. Quit yer whining. Also... if you are a ganker, get a life.]

Anyway... if we accept that ganking is wasting the time of the ganked and/or the ganker, the question I'm trying to answer here is *why* do it... and does the reason provide enough meaning to count as adding something to the game.

I believe that the concept of "sacrifice" does, in fact, do so.

Why? Because it is a meta-scoring device. In so many realms of life that it's essentially countless, we measure what we value in terms of what we sacrifice to get it. Whether it is time, money, ego or social standing, the more we "put up" for something, the more we understand it to be worthy of our attention. Sacrifice is the measure of our regard.

If I gank a bunch of low-level players, I am essentially making a sacrifice to the God of WoW. I am taking the time, energy, feelings, ego, what-have-you of those players whom I gank, and burning them on an altar of The Game Itself, as opposed to playing the game. I may also be taking my own time/energy and doing the same thing. I am wasting it, throwing it onto the pyre... making the game "more worthy" by sacrificing to it.

A game is, inherently, when described by its rules, sensible, and only "worth" that which is circumscribed by the rule-set. If Thomas and I play flip-a-coin, we're not going to have much fun. Why? It's a sucky game. Not much chance for contingency or meaning, eh?

But suppose we flipped a coin all day long for a week. After awhile, we might decide on some new additions... not that we can change the rules of the game (heads Thomas wins, tails I win). But let's say... 5 in a row, and you get to punch the other guy in the shoulder. 6 in a row, in the gut. 7? The face. 8 gets you a kick in the groin. 9 lands you a pile-driver. And 10?

If you win 10 flips in a row, you get to sleep with the other guy's wife.

Yowza. That gets creepy, doesn't it? Same game. Same rules for the basic game. But now we're sacrificing some stuff "to the game" rather than "within the game."

So... my point is that if the internal meaning for a game becomes dull or lost -- maybe because you're bored, maybe because you're too good, maybe because it's not a good enough game -- you can add to the importance of it by sacrificing to the game. Which makes it more important. Which adds meaning to every act, no matter how pointless within the context of the actual rules.

The act of ganking generates meaning because it causes the game to be/seem more important than it is. The meaning is not in the specifics of the act, but in *any act* that sacrifices anything of value in order to render the game itself of higher importance than it would without the act's accomplishment.

I have no idea if the above is true. It occurred to me, and so I wrote it down. Which is what I do here.

I'm almost completely sure that I've committed some kind of logical breech, too, Thomas. If so, please forgive. It's late, I'm tired, and I just kinda liked the idea of sacrificing other people's toons in order to make My Favored Game God seem more important. ;-/

Plus, this is one long-ass thread, and I couldn't resist adding something that was totally different than what anybody else had said.

166.

@Andy Havens
aren't gankers also sacrificing or potentially sacrificing, social respect?

167.

@ErikC: Sure. Or they may be sacrificing others in order to get respect from players who believe that ganking is fun/good. In this odd inkling of mine, it's the sacrifice that's important -- the idea that something is being wasted... turned over to the meta.

It could be good-taste that's sacrificed. I don't know.

My father once pointed out to me that many sports franchises receive far more "worshipful attention" than do organized religion. The noise, dressing up, prices regularly paid, fan devotion, attention to stats/details, social gatherings, etc. are aspects of meta-game culture that are clearly entertaining and important, but are also similar to things we often do in our religions.

Except that religions don't have a game in the middle.

168.

@Thomas M

Right, you have to have a balance. Too much power to the gankers and you get stuck in a state of nature, too restrictive hard-coded anti-ganking rules and you're stuck in a wierd state that's kind of analagous to before Original Sin (you can't do "evil" even if you want to). Living in a savage state isn't too much fun but neither is having all of your options hardcoded.

A good system would allow for the players to find ways to stamp out griefing. For example I very much doubt that much PKing happens in the middle of BoB space in Eve. Why? Because the players themselves have the tools to stamp out behavior that they don't like.

169.

Well, in EVE, they incentivise the players of 0.0 alliances into playing as the NPC guards that nobody really wants to play. If prosperity means protecting vulnerable players, then you do that, because it makes sense.

There isn't much incentive, I guess, in policing a theme park. Most players don't care much about roleplaying or backstory- they need something *actual* to fight for, to defend, not some blurb on a website or user manual about how the Horde Are Mean or whatever.

I don't know whether ganking takes the meaning out of games, or whether gankers just can't see any meaning in the game in the first place, and choose to make themselves a kind of Deus Ex Machina to either demonstrate this, or to create their own meaning (egotism, ultimately).

I genuinely don't identify with that vicious kind of glee in *deliberately* upsetting people. Not in a purely competitive way (there are winners and unhappy losers in contests, though I have seen people enthuse greatly over "good fights" they lost in the end, because they were challenged and entertained) but in a spiteful way. Cheering on bank robbers in some Hollywood movie doesn't involve causing deliberate emotional upset to another human being. The only justification is "lol its just a game". That's fine if everyone understands that, but they don't. I think it's a lot of compassionless geekdom fused with testosterone to be honest.

170.

@Prok

Omg dude, reading your posts here has been hilarious in the extreme. You should run for politics, the incredible way you twist and manipulate the issue so well..... WoW!

171.

@Andy H

Interesting read, i would love to see you expand on your ideas further with an article like Thomas.

@Thomas

I love anyone who stirs **** up, wether that was your intention or not. Lolz at all those who take this so seriously and waste so much of their emotion on this, but thanks for giving them the forum to provide me with the entertaining reading Thomas. :D

172.

One other thing that occured to me.

Before I played WoW I had played CounterStrike, then ConditionZero for 4+ years.

The reason I rolled PvP was because a large amount of my gaming enjoyment comes from PvP combat, not PvE combat.

Occasionly, i do get a kick out of easily destroying something in a game (ie: another player) knowing that the outcome will be an "easy kill" for me. In CS you would equate WoW Ganking with an experienced player using a Sniper Rifle to pick off "noob" players near their spawn point with 1 shot kills (headshot).

Now in CS it can of course be more easily argued that the "ganking" in the situation of the sniper is a core part of the game itself, ie: destroying a member of the opposing team thus damaging that teams possibility to win.

Now i know this is an apples & oranges comparison, as in CS death was "permanent" until the end of the round, and the game based on the score outcome of kills or objectives acheived.

But just because WoW has different game mechanics in regards to death, ie: i can come back & respawn, and the ganker can sit there & wait for me, doesn't mean that I don't occasionly enjoy ganking some low level players. For the same reason I enjoyed occasionly not even giving the "noobs" half a chance in CS by sniping off their spawn point (possible on some maps, impossible on others).

I get ganked all the time myself, but i enjoy it the large amount of the time. Why? I fight for my life, or go on the most amazing escapades to get away. Occasionly I manage to kill the would be ganker from a disadvantage'd position, such as being attacked while already engaged with a mob or with low health. When I do manage to win the encounter, I am estatic, and the fun I get from that outweighs my annoyance at the times I get ganked when I really wish it wouldn't happen.

My overall attitude is that if I cant laugh when another player kills me, im taking it too seriously. It is a game after all, albeit a very complex one. Getting pissed off generall makes me play worse, and makes it easier for the ganker to continue ganking me if they wish to do so. So i don't allow myself to get affected by it that way, i see it as a challenge. Screw the fact that im lvl 20 and their lvl 60, lets see how low I can get their HP before they kill me!!

173.

@Andy: Ah, it's nice to see you chime in, Andy. And with a totally new idea as well. It's very intriguing. Here are my thoughts in response.

The first thing I'd say is that I think focusing on the expending of effort/time by the gankers, which also means forcing others to expend time (at least), is a very important thing to think about. To relate to some of your examples, it starts to sound ritual-like (much like overturning the car and setting it on fire), and then we're tacking toward Jen's interesting thoughts over here. As Durkheim first showed, such acts of collective effervescence are probably where ritual was born -- the coming together of bodies to accomplish a contingent (improvised) act that, processually, comes to be a repeated action whose meaning is reconfirmed with every instance. These are confirmatory rites, much like the confirmatory, bureaucratized meaning I've mentioned above.

The reason I think "sacrifice", while effective at getting us to think about this ritual-like action, falls a bit short, is that I don't think the word can avoid suggesting a motivation. That is, sacrifice suggests a willful act, otherwise it's not sacrifice, and I don't think we have much reason to think that the gankers see their act as sacrificial. That said, I very much like the idea that spending non-gaming time in a game constitutes a commitment to its importance, and contributes to it, as well. So I guess I'm on board with a lot of the insight, it's just a quibble over choice of language.

@Chris: Thank you. I knew I was being provocative, but I didn't anticipate how, um, lively this discussion would end up being.

174.

@Magicback (Frank): I'm not sure if you're still following this gargantuan thread, but I did want to follow up on your interesting post about D&D alignments. When I was playing D&D the law/chaos axis surprised me and got me thinking quite a bit. Chaotic neutral is a tough nut to crack, roleplay-wise, for the reasons you mention, and I don't think it's any surprise that the possible roleplay archetypes for it look like a set of quite culturally-specific attempts to interpret the alignment. What is interesting to me is that players don't have just as much of a problem roleplaying lawful neutral. In my view, both utter chaos and utter determination should be equally difficult to follow through on enacting.

As for gankers as chaotic neutral, I guess the above means I'm saying that I tend to shy away from arguments which seems to appeal to a "black-box" mentality for gankers; i.e., they're just dicks, or chaotic, or evil. I think this lets us and them off the hook for trying to get at the root of why it happens.

175.

Quoted from David S
2. Every character will attack any member of the opposing faction they find, if they believe they might be able to survive the conflict. Even if they might not survive, one should see if one can find an advantage that would let you succeed.

That to me is (or should be imho) the definition of a WoW PvP or PvP-RP realm as opposed to PvE or RP realms. If you really dont want to be ganked, roll on one of the many PvE realms.

Complaining about being ganked on a PvP realm does seem kinda pointless sometimes to me, though in saying that I have no intention to suggest that this discussion itself is in any way pointless.

176.

Quoted from Hiro:
As for WoW, I never understood why they haven't made gray-level players count as dishonor points -- you can kill a low-level NPC and be punished with dishonor, but a living breathing human, you get no punishment. Odd. I can understand the counter-argument - that low-level players would gang up on higher level players, but, DAMN, that'd be something to see, wouldn't it? That sounds like a real challenge!

The point you make about low level players ganging up is possible already. And thats something I enjoy about the current mechanics, and this has happened to me a couple of times actually when i went for a random gank opportunity.

However the way you propose it is odd, by suggesting the idea of dishonour for killing a low lvl player might cause low lvl's to gang up, thus providing a "real challenge" for the high lvl player; which would then bring them a large amount of dishonour for accepting the "challenge", thus negating your own argument as far as i can tell in regards to dishonour for low lvl player kills....?

177.

There is so much good comment here, i cant help posting comment after comment :O Sorry if breaking any blog social conventions, im brand new to here.

On the "anti-ganker vigilante" topic touched upon, I spend game time defending nearby lower players and/or hunting down the gankers if im able to. If a guildmate or friend is being badly ganged up upon, we will get a small team of ppl and take the fight to them, you can move around azeroth quite fast if you make sure to make friends with lots of warlocks & mages :P I enjoy this other aspect of the "ganking circle" if you will a lot as well.

Part of the challenge of being on a PvP realm is knowing that at any time it could be "on" so to speak. I presume that most other players acknowledge this and feel the same way. I guess to come to some type of a point after all my light "comments" on some of the topics here, is what on a PvP realm, what is the difference between "normal ganking" and "griefing ganking" if you will, although that is putting it crudely i know. I think there is a difference there, and maybe thats what needs to be explored more, as some of the types of ganking being talked about here seem to be more "normal ganking" in terms of what most WoW PvP realms are like in actual experience (regardless of theory).

178.

Gried ganking is just plain bully behavior- taking out a quest NPC inhibits the other player from enjoying the game experience. Ditto Smokey's comments on that. PVP ganking on a pvp server- well, them's the rules set by the server so expect it to happen. If you're so uber l337 that you feel tough enough to take on a wee lvl 10 n00b with your epic-geared level 60+ , then really all you are saying about yourself (no matter what the justification is) is that you are a bully. Virtual or not it's the same sociopathic behavior patter of people who like to pull the wings off of flies. There is no end-profit in WoW other than the visceral glee one gets I suppose from 1-shotting a lowbie. Other games I've played like SB it's the law of the land and knowing that going in, you give and take. Guilds had specific rules where they would have an "honor among thieves" mentality- don't pick on the small fry. I left that game- too much politics and waaaay too much lag during siege raids. You think WoW is bad, heh you aint seen nothing.

179.

Andy Havens wrote:

Two systems like WoW and SL seem very similar because the platforms are so similar. We have players with toons; we have virtual assets; we have tokens as money. But in the case of WoW and many other MMOs, the method of assigning initial value to objects is solely at the discretion of the authors of the fiction, whereas in SL, it is almost entirely up to the market.

I disagree I think, and you're kind of missing my point anyway (which is that there's little reason to differentiate between emergent and non-emergent experiences in games).

The market decides the value of objects in WoW just as much as in SL. If nobody cared about WoW, the objects would have no value. As always, it's the context that determines the value as much as anything else, and it's end consumers who decide how much the context is worth.

--matt

180.

@JuJutsu

In response to your post ending with the question: "Isn't the 'capture the flag' game external to the game so that the meaning [and enjoyment] that you derive is external to the game?"

I understand what you are saying, but I disagree that any part of WoW gameplay is inherently meaningless just because some people think it should be that way. WoW is a virtual world with no 'winning' and no 'end' built in. As with the real world, this virutal world allows every player to define their own goals and their own means of enjoyment and success.

I believe that anything within the terms of service and within the game mechanics is fair game when it comes to enjoyment. I personally believe that the enjoyment of gaining a stockpile of epics is just as fun (and ultimately meaningless) as driving all the lowbies out of Duskwood.

You also suggest that older, more mature players may not enjoy ganking as frequently. I am a 30 year old, well educated and gainfully employed male. Of the 6-10 people I gank with most frequently, at least four are older than I am. One of these players is female. The rest of my favorite fellow gankers I believe range from high school age through upper 20's.



@Chris

You have done an excellent job of vocalizing how PvP, including ganking and being ganked, keeps the game fresh and exciting.



To answer a few other assorted points:

-Yes, the developers did make a conscious decision to allow ganking starting in Redridge, the lowest contested area (ie. where ganking is possible) in the game. They had to meet and decide in which zones ganking would be possible.

-Most actions will gain social respect with some, while sacrificing it with others. I have gotten dozens of emails and in-game whispers giving me kudos on some of the ganking movies I have made. Anyways, doesn't just playing a 'geeky game' like WoW make you lose respect in many communities?



181.

@Andy:

The idea of sacrifice to the game is fantastic. I think there is a lot of truth to it. Why do we value frustration in a game from endless grinding? Wiping to raid bosses repeatedly? Getting ganked by every level 70 that passes by? Part of the reason some of us deal with it is because there is an accumulated sense of sacrifice to the game, as you say. Like most things ritual, I think that sense is only compounded when the sacrifice is shared in community.

One might say, "We, as a guild, have gone through the wars. We leveled to 60 on a PVP server, learned how to take down raid bosses, etc. We did this together, and we are stronger as a group not just despite the difficulty of the process, but in part because of it."

I don't think sacrifice to the game is the whole story, but I think it gets at a particularly elusive and hard to explain part of the perceived value (and therefore, the value) of sharing these experiences.

182.

@Andy comment, above, was me on a new computer. Sorry.

183.

Sorry, this is another long one. We are talking around the border of ethics, so the conversation gets weighty. All apologies.

Why I love PVP but dislike ganking (because Softserv asked):

I think this is a good question, and one I've tried to explain for myself and to others without ever feeling entirely successful.

1. I love role playing games, though I explicitly engage in RP in MMO environments rarely, largely because most MMO RP lacks significance _to me_ (I'm not criticizing other's interest in MMO RP, just never found an interesting fit). In the cold war/brushfire war environment of WOW, where I am often asked to go into enemy territory and kill renowned members of the opposing faction, I don't understand why I can walk into enemy territory and expect to be safe from PC enemies. It makes no sense to me. Nor does it make sense that I cannot attack an invader coming into our territory. I want the option myself, and I want members of the opposed faction to have the option.

2. I am interested in human behavior, and love to see the choices people make in unusual circumstances. In WOW, when will people attack? When wont they? How does the community respond? If I /wave, will the other person /wave or /cast? I admit, I much preferred the PVP in Lineage 2 where, after the lowest levels, PVP was political. HIgh level characters didnt routinely gank lower level ones because the consequences were high, not just in terms of game mechanics, but also in terms of social reprisal. An entire guild may come after one for ganking a member of the guild. The system also gave extra penalty to people who chaotically attacked other characters, by turning them "chaotic", which had all sorts of terrible, negative consequences. However, if your guild went to war with another guild, you could attack and kill the enemy at will. So, when at war you hunted in packs. When at peace, you hunted more freely. War was always an option, but it involved reciprocity. Declaring war could backfire. I could also directly negotiate with the enemy, and I did. It was my favorite part of the game. For other reasons, I found it to be an amazingly frustrating game to play with PVE content that I found meaningless and a grind that would not quit. The PVP aspect encouraged a "keep up with the Jones's" requirement to stay in the political game, and I was trying to keep up with people that must have had two-times my gaming time, and I'm a games researcher.

3. I agree that there is an aspect of sacrificing to the game that I enjoy. Call me a masochist, but I think hard games played together are more satisfying (I wont say fun), at least to a point. Lineage 2 was past my comfort zone, eventually. WOW is well before it, I find many of the PVP encounters to be rather trivial, and by that I mean either meaningless in the sense Thomas proposes in the initial post or insignificant because it is not advancing anyone's sense of purpose in the world of Azeroth.

I dislike ganking, the way it is described by Thomas in the initial post and _only_ that way. Jumping an equal level person on the road from surprise, for example, I see as totally acceptable play. It is frustrating, but it has contingency, it is interesting to see if I can survive, and it gives me an experience I could not have completely expected. The primary reason I dislike it is because I see it as essentially selfish gameplay, and quite honestly, I find pure selfishness offensive.

"Ask not what your fellow players can do for you, but what you can do for your players." I take this to be the core ethic of game play. I believe the ideal of game play should be not only to have fun oneself, which is important, but also to add to the fun of every other person involved in the game. If I am doing something in a game that is highly unlikely to be fun for the other person, it is imperative that I stop doing it.

Every other goal in a game is subservient to this ethic for me. Yes, I want to win, but if my constantly winning is not fun for me or is not fun for the other person, I want to change the rules of the game so it is fun for both of us again. Note, I am not saying that I sacrifice my own fun to the happiness of others, but when I have found a game where I could not find a way to have fun playing with others, I've done the only logical thing I could think to do. I stopped playing that game.

In WOW, I have no clear idea what the other person is thinking, so if I am going to play, I need to use some intuition about what I think the other person is enjoying and what they aren't. As an example - I have experienced being corpse camped, and hated it. My friends hate being corpse camped. I don't corpse camp (well, I corpse camp corpse campers, but that I see as social norming to try and curb aberrant behavior - admittedly a possibly contradiction, though I'm not yet convinced it is contradictory, and it may be the only available way to police griefing behavior). On the other hand, though I and other dislike being hit by surprise while traveling, we are on a PVP server, and if I am in contested territory (not just by game rules, but also by play style), I learn to expect the unexpected. Someone of similar level hitting me once, and not corpse camping me, is a fair cop. I'm ok with that. Do I know that everyone agrees? In fact, I know that dont. People play on PVP servers for many reasons. However, engaging in some surprise PVP on a PVP server seems to be well within the realm of acceptability to me. But, I try and be wary of context. I try not to hit people who are completely minding their own business or in areas where we presumably have shared goals (like the Plaguelands, in WOW, where we are all trying to fight back the Scourge and help Argent Dawn, horde or alliance). There are for me clear cases and less clear cases, and the less clear ones are constantly under negotiation and open to new data that suggests the behavior might be ok or might be harmful to the gameplay of the other.

I know many people think when they enter a game space, they should be able to enjoy their game play however they want. I think this is an interesting idea, but falls apart in face to face practice. If you play basketball with friends, and you decide to "walk" the ball often because 1. the pros do it all the time and 2. you can perform better, but the rest of the players in the game think you are 1. breaking the rules and 2. being an ass because you refuse to play the game the way the group has agreed to play it, you will likely find yourself losing the right to play their game. You may also be risking some friendships. This is not inappropriate. It is not "just a game". It is a game, but it is also time spent in a shared activity with other people.

Lets take a worse example. You are playing full court basketball with your friends, and another larger or more physically powerful group of people come along. You can ask them to wait (or try and make them wait) until you are done. You can offer them half the court and both play half court. You can invite them into your game. You can give the court up and do something else or move to another court. The proper response is completely socially constructed and varies from situation to situation, but there are norms, and breaching the norm could lead to social criticism or, possibly, more dire consequences. In my opinion, the social construction is very important, but it does not negate the golden rule. I still think we have a social obligation to exert some consideration for the well being of the other people in our play space.

Online, and in these enormous spaces, you don't need to face the people you are playing with. I think this can lead people to forget that there are other people present to whom one owes some social responsibility. But to say that explains it all would be giving too much credit. I think, for whatever reason, because there are few, if any consequences possible within the play space of WOW to police unsympathetic play, people think it is ok to play very selfishly. Note, I am not reducing all pvp to this kind of behavior, I am categorizing only that play that does not honor that, even though our characters are on different sides of a game, as players we are playing the game together, and we should honor each other as players.

So, hopefully that was clearer than mud. But, one thing I want to make completely clear. In my opinion, not at all humble in this case, I find it both unethical and appalling within the context of WOW to engage in activity that is demeaning to people who, in the game world, are far less powerful than you are.

Humping the dead body of a character is not ok.
Trying to position yourself with an afk character so it appears they are engaged in fellatio is not ok.
Spitting on the dead body of a character that has done you no wrong is not ok. (I find spitting on someone that has personally offended you to be communication, not degradation, in an environment where no talking is permitted, but I agree that one needs to be careful here as well)

I don't care that it is happening to an avatar. This is a non-consentual act of degradation, and is intended as such. If you don't understand that, I ask that you pay more attention to the reactions of other people.

If your definition of what is acceptable is what is not against the EULA, and I think that is an impoverished view, look at the clause on harassment. Sexual and physical harassment of a player is not allowed. I understand this case of harassment is arguable, and therefore not enforceable, but if you think you are engaged in an action to which the other player would not consent, expect that you may be engaging in harassment.

184.

I think that's right, David and Andy, but why not say that players come to feel "invested" in the game? That has less of the grand gesture air to it, but reflects the great insight that the time and effort put into a game itself accounts for part of the player's disposition toward it.

185.

@Softserv: (Not that you've responded to me as I hurt your feelings earlier, so I don't hold out too much hope of a reply.)

"I understand what you are saying, but I disagree that any part of WoW gameplay is inherently meaningless just because some people think it should be that way. WoW is a virtual world with no 'winning' and no 'end' built in. As with the real world, this virutal world allows every player to define their own goals and their own means of enjoyment and success."

Real life has no winning per se, but when someone killed thousands of a single racial group in an eastern european war state there was a trial afterwards to determine fault. It was a state of war, but killing the helpless was condemned by the world at large.

If you look at the reactions of many who post here you'll see similarities: preying on the weak is not widely considered socially acceptable, regardless of your ability to do so unobstructed.

As for the kudos you get for ganking videos? People watch "Bumfights" and "Dirty Sanchez" because they like to see people get hurt. How is it so hard to reconcile the pain you've caused some of the people you've abused? Why have you never considered the possibility that some people are drawn to suffering?

How is everything ok in the name of fun when in the real world morality dictates what is ok and what is not? What magical switch gets thrown in your head that says: "hey, I'm in a morally devoid fantasy-land now, I can do ANYTHING that I want!"

Seriously, I honestly believe you are unable to process the information, despite your education and adulthood. I could be wrong and you have another manner of dealing with rationalizing your actions. *shrug*

Were you ganked when you started gaming? What games did you start out in, and what was the PvP environment like? Did you initiate ganking yourself when you started, or were you introduced to it by friends?

These are all questions which I think are relevant, and since you've offered to answer people here I think it'd be educative.

186.

I think why people choose not to gank is an interesting a question as to why they do gank.

I gank in the game every now and then, and as prev. said, get ganked quite often too (on my main or alts). Even at lvl 65, i get ganked by 70's dropping down from the sky's on me, so if i choose to go after a say lvl 55-55 player, where is the difference there?

Certain classes are known in WoW for being able to take on other classes 5-10lvl's higher than them as well. But then we need to make a distinction between ganking within say 10 lvl's lower than you and ganking someone 40+ lvl's lower than you.

There are times, while in areas that are difficult to get too, or taking on what are known to be extremely difficult bosses, where I will not gank and will instead assist enenmy players (horde to me, i play an alliance druid as my main).

On the note of my class, druids to some extent will also tend not to gank other druids in particular, but may gank other classes at will. There are a few different reasons for this, the common ones being in my opinion: shared experience through the Lore (druids are druids 1st, alliance / horde 2nd idea); through the fact that were one of the harder classes to lvl, and you know that the other guy is at a disadvantage already because of that, so you choose not to make it harder for them; also because druids can survive a long time if they know their class, even against another druid 30+ lvl's higher.

Out of all the world pvp i engage in during my play time, maybe 5% of it is spent in what what would be termed ganking. Of all my play time questing and playing the PvE objectives, the number of times I assist enemy faction players is probably about 25% of the time, and the number of times i leave them alone altogether is probably about another 60% of the time.

Some ppl have already commented on the anticipation and rush from waving at enemy player, finger hovering over the attack button, waiting to see what will happen. This is never a certain outcome, so the cat & mouse analogy near the beggining of the comments is apt i think. Once battle is en-joined it may be a foregone conclusion the majority of the time (but not always) what the outcome will be, but theres always an opportunity to stop yourself being ganked. Sometimes a /beg /bow /hug from the enemy player I was about to gank has saved their life. Of course a random /spit to me while im riding past minding my own business, and someone needs to be taught a world of pain :P

I laugh at the ppl though who equate the fact that I gank in WoW with pulling wings off an insect or similar. I am a very kind person in RL, i love all living creatures and would never harm something the way John M suggests. The fact is in WoW im doing something to a virtual avatar. Yes their is a real person behind the avatar, and occasionly my ganking may piss them off, but I am not forcing them to play a PvP realm, in the end I am a paying customer engaging in allowed activity in the game, activity that is actually quite encouraged by the game and its mechanics, not just allowed.

Again, what is the only difference between a PvE & a PvP realm. Basically, you can't get ganked at will on a PvE realm, unless your flagged for combat. Even on a PvP realm, up to lvl 20 your in zones where you cant be attacked without being pvp flagged (by attacking first for example), and the new ppl learn quick that when theyre lvl 10, if they just ignore that lvl 60 player then the lvl 60 cant attack them. Griefing via interfering with a quest from a lvl 60 to a lvl 10 is not ganking so i wont go into that.

Also as stated by others, Ganking is a great way to find yourself a "real" fight, when the cavalry arrives. Playing on a PvP realm forces you into close-knit communities and alliances with other players, one of the other things I love about PvP realms. And players are more willing to assist you with stuff I find on a PvP realm, due to the constant "threat" of being attacked by the enemy faction. I think the "protection" of low lvl players, ones you know and random's from your own faction you don't, is understated in here. I think it occurs far more than suggested and is an essential part of the "ganking circle".

I agree with the comments right near the beggining, that in essence if you take away the ability to gank, you take away an element essential in forming those close knit communities that make playing WoW so fantastic.

187.

@Mathew Reuther

Quote:
"Were you ganked when you started gaming? What games did you start out in, and what was the PvP environment like? Did you initiate ganking yourself when you started, or were you introduced to it by friends?

These are all questions which I think are relevant, and since you've offered to answer people here I think it'd be educative."

- Although this question was to SoftServ, i think this is an important question to ask in general.

WoW has attracted a lot of of players who never or rarely played an MMO or RP type game before WoW. I personally come from the FPS genre, and as mentioned played CounterStrike for a few years before WoW, which is a game where ganking is very much a core part of the game itself, and this is where I personally learned to gank and the reasoning's behind it.

In WoW i knew before I started playing the game what ganking was like in WoW, from the friend of mine who got me interested in playing the game (he played a rogue, and introduced me to ganking in exquisite detail before i ever set foot in azeroth myself).

I think this might be an essential element to understanding the mentality of ganking in WoW compared to any other MMO out there. 8 million+ players sure adds a heck of a large amount of variety and un-predictability of behaviour into the equation.

On a complete side note, since SL keeps being mentioned here, ppl accuse WoW of being a time sink and runing ppl's live's, but SL players make hardcore WoW players look like casuals IMHO. Not that i know a great deal about SL, but enough that it scares me :O :P

188.

@Mathew: Computer generated NPC bad guys ultimately do not satisfy the narrative thirst of players in a virtual world. Players need some self-selected human controlled enemys. "Outdoor Bosses" as Softserv calls them. (I'm not sure if SL does or not. Science fiction authors seem to think the metaverse's most interesting stories involve bad guys. Maybe LL does too.)

Frankly I like it when a player, Softserv for example, chooses to be an evil and cowardly villian. It's not a fun job IMHO, but somebody has to do it. Hopefully he isn't that way in real life.

All players must be able to participate though. If a player's role in the narrative is to die quickly and namelessly -- like a "Red Shirt" Trekie -- that's a crappy game.

WoW could have a logarithmic leveling curve instead of a linear one. WoW could have pets and items that trade offsense or aggro radius for defense. There's no good reason that roots for example should be level resisted. It would be nice if spending 5 skill points gave a player max ability in that skill regardless of level. A young player could choose to max defensive skills then and be the defensive equal of any player in the game.

189.

I dont think analogising ganking with sports is appropriate. I have 7 years experience as a soccer referee in australia. Sport has a referee or umpire, who watch everything the whole time, and adjucidate bad behaviour.

Now there is behaviour in sport that that is not against the rules, but is considered unsporting. I think the closest you might compare ganking to with sport (soccer anyway) is not kicking the ball out when someone on the opposite team goes down injured, even if your team might be able to score from the opportunity. You will see some matches where that unwritten rule is abided by, and some where it isnt at all. FIFA is actually clamping down officialy on this and stating at higher levels of the game, that players should not kick the ball out to stop play, as the referee is able to do this and its their responsibilty to do.

Now thats a bit of a side point, but comparing Ganking with actually breaking the rules in sport, is not a fair analogy. Ganking isnt breaking the rules.

I want to know what the definition of ganking is as well. I just cames across a player 1 lvl higher than me, but on 20% health (all alone, no mob engaged with them, but they werent afk either). I took the opportunity to kill the player, which was fairly easy, although they did their best to fight back, and to me i consider that i ganked that player. That to me is fair ganking. Although this is different somewhat to killing a lvl 30 player say when ur lvl 70, its not that dis-similar(sic?).

There seems to be a wide range of what ganking actually is. Now if were going to get so seriously into the ethics of it as Prof has tried to in the wrong way, and as the author and others have tried to in the right way; then a common basic definition of what ganking is would be a better starting point for then examing the reasons behind why it happens and to determine its meaning or meaningless'ness (sic?).

190.

@Chris:

Ganking is when it is a foregone conclusion that you will win (barring Moses-like miracles) . . . so yes, if you nail someone like a higher level Mage on 20% health, or hammer a group's MT during a named Elite encounter or anything of the like it is a gank.

But ganking like all other things is a sliding scale. While the occasional gank and the gank that might offer the gankee an opportunity for revenge at a (relatively immediate) later date is perhaps less asocial, the repeat-killing, corpse humping and camping of players vastly below one's power level is very much an anti-social act. Thus this behavior is typically worthy of scorn except when it is done in a very specific context.

As a note in EQ2 I was able to take out 10 or 15 people when an entire mob of newbies attacked me. (I was level 70, the highest level was 45, and there were literally 30 people between the levels of 15 and 45.) THIS was self-defence as the only reason I had wandered close to them was to scout, not fight. I could not intiate combat (rules make it so that you can't) but when they all mobbed me I started AOEing for all I was worth. Took down a bunch of them before they got me. THIS is not a gank. It is a legitimate form of combat as the higher level individual was not guaranteed to survive nor were they able to initate the combat. (Even if they did lag kill me. :) )

As far as Counterstrike goes, I don't think you can compare it to an MMO in any way. The game is created so that your single goal is to kill every single member of the opposing faction, or at least as many as needed in order to achieve your goals. Thus while killing anyone at any time in any way in CS may be the way of the world, it is not equivalent to WoW or any other MMO.

@Ken Fox:

I can perhaps agree with your assessment, but please note that it does not hold true for current MMOs for the most part. It is near impossible for a newer player to have any hope of survival against an experienced foe given the current world rules on the market. Only in massive packs (which typically would negate any normal advancement through experience attrition) are newbies any threat to even a single experienced opponent.

So given WoW's uneven playing field I find it difficult to justify playing the bad guy as a good excuse.

191.

Prokofy Neva translated into WoW speak:

Least i got chicken!

:P

192.

It is worth looking at whether ganking rates - and I don't propose an easy way to measure this - go up with the continued existance of a game. Because I know I, in my experience, and many people I have spoken to, feel the same way - desensitized and bitter that we were ganked so often, so that now that we've got nearly maxxed out characters we take it as a given that we can and often should gank if we feel like it. I used to be vehmently opposed to it... now I just don't care. I haven't become an active ganker, but if a friend of mine starts a fight I no longer just let him hash it out himself or just defend him - I'm now the guy that takes it one step further, that rubs your nose in it to make you decide you don't want anymore.

I do this because it was done to me. Repeatedly. And I figure if I do it enough, I'll piss off an alternate character or a friend of someone who did it to me, and that makes me feel better. People are vindictive naturally. It happens.

So if ganking creates more gankers, and no one ever stops being a ganker, you would think ganking rates would go up with the existance of a) a particular Server (suspect, because people transfer), b) a particular MMO (better, but MMO players often play more than one), or C) MMOs in general (and this is DEFINITELY happening, especially if you go back to the days of MU*s as MMOs).

just my thoughts.

193.

While I enjoyed reading a number of comments and views, I still think it's a matter of the beholder. To me, ganking and being ganked is usually a matter of territory and revenge. I like ganking in STV not because I lack for anything, but because it's easy to get to for my faction(Horde) and I wish to 'spread the message' that STV is Horde territory even if it is 'contested'.

There some areas that you're less likely to get ganked then overs at different levels. For instance, I do not go to STV until I am at least 35 because STV is a continous war zone of PvP battles that anything else then 35 invites a swift gank from my expirences. I've learned to cope with PvP and how to evade my 'enemies' until my character is strong enough to defend or evade such practices.

On the reasons I have ganked is 'Revenge'. A friend, myself, or even just some other player on my faction has gotten killed by the Alliance. So I'll hop on my main to hunt them down and grief them to assert that we didn't like it and it's best to quit it. Also on that note, when griefed myself, I accept that I 'deserve' it and have no means of defense against a better player. So I attempt to flee or play another character.

Another reason I gank is resources. A lower level player is mining when I am trying to acquire materials for something is directly hampering my ability to do such. So using game mechanics I compete by killing them to delay their ability to acquire nodes before me. Sometimes I don't have to kill them for them to get the hint. I usually avoid trying to kill other players, but if they don't back down or won't have peace, then a fight it is. Also, for quest mobs. Both sides share quests. So, once again they are competeing against me for quest goals. So, it becomes another contest of war. More so on less common mobs. Sometimes it doesn't hurt to share the mobs as sometimes there are so many and respawn so fast that competeing for them would waste more time then sharing.

Finally, it is PvP objectives. As said before, it's a matter of drawing out higher level players. Since most players tend to have higher level friends, it's usually a dependable way to draw out players without usuing a BG to do so. It's a free form 'World BG' that I enjoy a lot. It's also a sort of 'raid' sometimes when a far better geared player with more expirence then my friends and myself will enjoy in attmpting to 'down' this 'boss'. It's engaging and requires quick thinking and planing.

I greatly enjoyed a lot of posts, mostly I enjoyed reading about people making their own goals in free form games like WoW. I agree whole heartedly. I have invested a lot of time into WoW and is regular entertainment for me. I play other games sometimes, but there's a lot to accomphlish on there and changes of pace are nice.

So if you're being ganked, try not to be upset. It's within the game mechanics and is encouraged by the company. Hence their statement that on a PvP realm, no form of PvP(I.E. ganking, griefing, ect...)is consider harassment or objectable play. If you are bothered by such play, play on a PvE realm. I also play on such realms when I want to just play the game and not worry about being killed just for being in the way.

194.

Thomas Malaby's analysis of griefing does not extend beyond the borders of WoW PvP servers. It seems to me that he is establishing a view based on a game that has absolutely horrid game design when it comes to PvP.

While he mentions that he is taking as an example the open PvP servers in WoW, and that his analysis does not extend to all types of PvP, it is clearly implied that it does extend outside of WoW.

As usual, analysis that occurs in a given virtual world and takes its (usually shoddy) rules and systems as "how things are" will merely reveal the fact that the virtual world in question was poorly designed.

The real question is not "is griefing bad?" but "why do people grief in WoW/EVE Online/EverQuest/etc?" Finding answers to that question, and then trying to solve the issue, is far more constructive than simply stringing together an odd mixture of irrelevant and trite statements.

195.

@Grax: The limitations of WoW's design has been a regular subject of this thread (and was not absent in the original post). There are good reasons to focus on one example in the hopes of finding generalizable features, but such an inquiry is provisional, as I have taken pains to point out time and time again. If that was unclear to you, I suggest you read the post more carefully. If the core idea that some forms of griefing might be understandable as something other than playing a game (which may or may not be generalizable to other games/other PvP), doesn't strike you as a helpful piece of the puzzle, then you might offer more than trite objections.

196.

One of the lamest TN discussions ever. Bunch of carebears ganging up on gankers for a megabyte of whining. Grow up and don't play on PvP servers. And get rid of your pseudohumanistic posturing in the mean time. :P

197.

Absolutely right. We should get right back to the *actual* humanistic posturing! :)

198.

Thomas Malaby said, "There are good reasons to focus on one example in the hopes of finding generalizable features [...]".

You chose the "open pvp servers" of WoW for your analysis. There are currently zero open PvP servers in WoW -- open PvP suggests that you can attack more or less anyone. Every single PvP server in WoW is actually a racewar. This means that the game is telling the players that they hate those on the other faction. The intended "meaning" in the game, for better or worse (for worse, I'd say), is racial hatred and honor gained by slaying the opposing faction. The fact that some people are higher level than others, and that this means they are much more powerful, is just an extension of the primitive D&D level system, which has yet to be eradicated from MMOGs (player skill, rather than character skill, will hopefully begin to dominate in the newer MMOGs).

If a person plays WoW the way "it is meant to be played" (from the roleplay perspective that those who talk about "meaning" will usually gravitate towards), they will indiscriminately gank low and high levels of the opposing faction by the truckload.

Yes, this is an argument from roleplaying (not that I'm a particularly hardcore roleplayer at all). But this is mostly to highlight the fact that you have ignored the "intended meaning" that Blizzard has established on its WoW racewar PvP servers. If the racewar isn't the main "PvP game" from which all emergent gameplay is an offshoot, then what _is_ the game? It seems that you are suggesting that players should be aware of the fact that someone has not had time to level and so they should perform a simple calculation to try to discover whether it would be unfair/cruel to kill them. This type of moral calculation is definitely outside the game, and you have casually assumed that this could/should be happening without even discussing it.

If someone wants to say that griefing is meaningless and cruel, then they should explain how one can avoid committing such a sin, since the racewar pvp atmosphere, the glowing-red enemy targets, and the lack of cross-race communication is not going to do it.

199.

@Softserv

"I understand what you are saying, but I disagree that any part of WoW gameplay is inherently meaningless just because some people think it should be that way. WoW is a virtual world with no 'winning' and no 'end' built in. As with the real world, this virutal world allows every player to define their own goals and their own means of enjoyment and success."

I believe that Thomas' point is that the meaning [and fun] you get from the 'capture the flag' game you described is external to the game[s] defined in the virtual world. There are, I presume, equivalent games built into the virtual world. But rather than play those games you develop your own.


"You also suggest that older, more mature players may not enjoy ganking as frequently. I am a 30 year old, well educated and gainfully employed male."

Mature only in the chronological sense. And keep in mind that from my perspective a 30 year old is a young whippersnapper; unless I'm mistaken I have a D&D module older than you ;)

200.

A few days back I listed 9 "irrelevant" perspectives that points to meaning beyond internally induced, externally defined, and self-defined.

Another mode is skinner-type repetition and desensitizing where you subconsciously acquire the ganking behavior and repeat the behavior in a reflex mode.

For example, some people may discover that they are acting like bullies perhaps because they were bullied before.

For example, ganking may be a learned reflex that was acquired perhaps by receving a friendly gank from a RL friend.

For example, child-soldiers of many wars don't naturally take up killing people and family, but they have been conditioned to do so. After the war, they may recover and live a healthy life until a moment of instinct they shot someone, perhaps a family member.

Think about why when chased by police, people instictively try to flee. You can argue temporary insanity, but I think it's just learned reflexes.

Ganking can be a learned reflex.

Frank

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