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Mar 04, 2008



I'd also add:

- "Distance" between the player and the avatar

In a role-playing game, it's possible to argue "I'm not a bad person, it's my character who is bad." And indeed, in some (if not most) RPG's, playing an "evil" character is socially accepted.

But even in a roleplay with "evil" characters, there are implicit boundaries on what is acceptable, and griefing is outside those boundaries. (Being outside those boundaries is pretty much the definition of griefing).

Two hypotheses:

a) Some players "grief" in environments that are perceived as RP, who would not grief otherwise.

b) Interface changes that reduce the separation between the player and their avatar (e.g. introducing voice) reduce griefing.

- The griefer does not perceive other avatars as human beings

Of course, most players know rationally that there is another player behind other avatars. But the user interface might be encouraging a lack of empathy.

I don't know of many psychological tests for a situational lack of empathy. The tests used in autism research mostly treat empathy/theory of mind as a characteristic of the person, independent of the situation they're in. (e.g. they measure some aspect of empathy in a contrived lab setting, and assume this has ecological validity).

- There is also the possibility that the games might be attracting players who have a low degree of empathy.

For example, most MMO's don't do facial expressions well. Some potential players will be put off by this, while those who remain are those who weren't. Not caring about facial expressions might be correlated with lack with lack of empathy,.

- Sexual motives

Many griefing incidents have a sexual aspect to them. For example:

a) The griefer specifically targets a sexual minority group (e.g. furries), or specifically targets areas where people meet for sexual liasons.

b) The griefer transmits sexual content in a forum where this is prohibited by ToS.

Of these, (b) is something of a circular argument, because persistently displaying pornography in an area where it is prohibited is likely to be considered griefing by definition.


"A victim can end the grief at any time by 1) disconnecting from Second Life, 2) moving to a private area 3) entering the world with a new avatar."

This is not true. Griefing isn't necessarily targeting an avatar, it can also be the interference and disruption of that person's assets. If someone is crashing your region over and over, or harassing your customers, you have to deal with it. Disconnecting or going elsewhere doesn't stop someone from costing you potentially hundreds of real dollars in lost income because griefers targeted your store.

The exit clause doesn't work when you have invested in the space that is being griefed.


>I think the new bloggers here could use some help with the "Continue reading..." feature of Type Pad.



Thomas>Second Life griefing was recently defined by a group of residents as unacceptable, persistent behaviour which disrupts the ability to enjoy Second Life. This is strikingly similar to definitions of bullying

This suggests it's possible to be a bully entirely by accident. Is that correct?

The definition of "griefing" gets gradually weaker. Originally, it meant performing some action which the griefer knew would cause distress to the griefee, primarily for the purpose of causing such distress. Now, it seems, you get to be a griefer simply by doing something more than once that someone else doesn't like. By that definition, I grief my students by setting them examinations...


...unacceptable, persistent behaviour...

My reading of "persistent" in that phrase was that it meant "after having been repeatedly told not to engage in the troublesome behaviour" or maybe even "after having had your character banned and your IP address blocked for the troublesome behaviour - on several occasions".


I see griefing, and especially the types of griefing common in SL, as more akin to vandalism than bullying. Read this Wiki article on vandalism and take special note of the relevance to artistic expression. Some of the most elaborate and IMO impressive examples of griefing in SL are really quite clever, despite their negative consequences on SL society in general. Also note that the wiki article touches on the fact that individuals who are targeted tend to feel bullied but the vandals are usually indifferent about who they target, as long as someone is victimized.


This wiki article is even more interresting because it differentiates between physical property damage and other types of damages as a criminal offense in certain places.

As I am reading this, griefing could be prosecutable under the right circumstances in places with laws like the above ref.


My point was that the motives for griefing are identical to the motives for vandalism and "malicious mischief", including mal-intent, boredom and art.






Those are indeed plausible motives but I would argue that they may sit at another level. It is suggested that the motivation for griefing in Second Life is because some see it as a game and others do not (and other reasons). I would argue that the motivation lies in the fact that some people can basically be pretty sh***y at times and, because a lot of people just like to get on with things in Second Life, disruptive behavior is effective. The motivation is nothing to do with Second Life - Second Life merely provides an attractive platform creating both the level of emotional engagement to arm the griefers whilst also providing anonymity and physical / real remoteness.


I agree with Carl. Last fall, researching amateur SL museum curators, I asked them about griefing. One, with the Jewish Historical Museum, reported that a griefer had dropped flaming swastikas on the museum grounds. As a one-time event, I don't think this can be considered "persistent" behavior, and it was only moderately disruptive (the items were simply returned to owner). However, as Ace mentioned, it was an attack on the space, not an avatar. And it was just plain rude, to say the least.

But as to motive: this gets into the ideological, right? It's vandalism, to be sure, but this and other types of targeted griefing (anit-furry, etc.) should probably be chalked up to motives in the area of prejudice and what would be hate crimes IRL.


>>This suggests it's possible to be a bully entirely by accident. Is that correct?

There is debate in the workplace bullying (and aggression) literature as to whether intent should be included within any definition. It isn't included in the definition above so yes, it would be possible to grief someone by without realising it.


Thomas Chesney>so yes, it would be possible to grief someone by without realising it.

Hmm, so this defines griefing in terms of being griefed (ie. whether something was griefing or not is in the mind of the person griefed), whereas originally it was defined in terms of causing grief (ie. it was in the mind of the griefer).

Generally, developers have more to fear from people who deliberately cause grief than those who feel griefed when someone picks the herb that they were going to pick after the one after the one after they're picking now. Is there a term from bulling literature (or anywhere else) we can use to describe this kind of person?



The word "persistent" seems to me to be important here. One of the things you learn in harassment training from HR is that (at least in the US) environmental harassment often requires that the offender by warned, and then persist [quid pro quo harassment doesn't usually have this requirement].

Environmental harassment is the kind of thing that's initially open to interpretation. I tell me friend a ribald joke, he's fine with it. No biggie. I tell it loud enough so that my neighbor hears, and he's offended, there's potential for creating a harassing environment... but he needs to tell management (or me, directly) that there's an issue. He can't sandbag (or, as my wife and I say, "fester it") the issue and then claim, 2 years down the road, that, "Andy's always telling loud, dirty jokes."

Once I'm told that there's a problem, if I stop... it's not persistent. Environment clear. If I do persist, I can suffer the consequences.

Seems to me it's similar in griefing. Although, clearly, some of it is meant to be harmful from the get-go, if it doesn't break stated rules, everybody gets at least one warning to let them know: your definition of what is acceptable in this environment does not conform to the norms of the group. If bad behavior persists, the consequences will be XYZ.

Problems occur, obviously, when different pairs or groups have vastly different definitions of what counts as harassment or griefing. Me and my buds may pull all kinds of crap on each other. Our direct neighbors may be OK with it, as we have an established relationship. But if it spills into more public spaces... well, that's a different environment, eh?


Intraday Master says:


Shambhu says:


Patchouli Woollahra says:

Only comment erasure and ban... >:(


Richard Bartle asked:
Is there a term from bulling literature (or anywhere else) we can use to describe this kind of person?

I believe the informal term is 'victim'. with the quotation marks. 'Drama queen' also comes to mind.

I also believe that griefing needs to be defined as action deliberately calculated to cause significant disruption to places and people.

Exactly where do you draw the line between a self-perceived sense of hurt and actual injury/damage (temporary or otherwise), and call the latter 'griefing'? I suppose that this is one of those chestnuts that will fall to the community as a whole rather than being handed down from on high for a long time.

Law is someone's ethics enforced with teeth.


"Patchouli Woollahra says:

Intraday Master says:


Shambhu says:


Patchouli Woollahra says:

Only comment erasure and ban... >:("

But I like that there is a griefer in this discussion thread. (yes spammers are griefers of a sort) In SL isn't there a certain amount of real-world protection availble, because of the real dollar value of the Linden dollar? Someone disrupting a SL business is cause real life monetary damages and can be held accountable in real life court for it.

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