RTOD 19OCT2008 – Good Griefing! (And you all think I’m a geek!)

RTOD – Good Griefing! (And you all think I’m a geek!)

Things really have changed in the world! Did you know that there is now an acceptable form of harassment and havoc-wreaking?

I’ll run a few examples for you.

Example A: You are in charge of controlling the development in a specific area. You’ve spent countless hours in time getting everything in your area working perfectly, and your area is exactly as needed, everything in place. Next thing you know, a person or group of people come up to your location and set off a series of explosions or codes which affect the power grid around your area, causing massive chaos and panic, making everyone pretty much run away. The chaos and damage costs you your local currency to fix.

Example B: You and a group of inexperienced hikers are climbing up a mountain trail to get to a cave known to have different precious and semi-precious stones, easily found without any kind of real work. Suddenly, a group of hikers, well-equipped, who obviously know the land very well show up, and start attacking the other hikers and climbers, knocking them out and stealing anything on them.

Example C: You are a member of a peaceful help group. You are in the process of preparing for a special case when someone, or a group of people, breaks into the building, begins screaming obscenities and racial slurs, and tearing things off the walls, knocking over your furniture, and generally destroying the place. By the time you can get there to help contain the person or group, they have either escaped, or were forcefully removed from the building.

Now, for all three of these scenarios, imagine that you have either video or still-shots. Hell, they dropped their wallets that have their names, addresses, even contact information. How many of these people were charged with criminal acts?

NONE! Why? Because they were griefers! These were in digital metaverses. The first one would be games like Second Life, Habbo Hotel, The Sims Online, and others where you can develop entire sections of land or rooms to what you want, only to have your access cut or rooms outright destroyed, effectively nullifying hours of work. Examples B and C would be some of the bigger, more popular MMORPG’s, such as World of Warcraft, Eve, MapleStory, Runescape, Age of Conan, Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima Online, and SO many others! And these are just a few. Anyone who regularly kills members on their own team, specifically picks on those in lower skill and rank levels, and forcing disconnections from games are guilty of griefing.

The basis of griefing is to have your fun by causing others to NOT have fun by ruining the gaming experience. Since most of these games have directly-visible names, you can easily catch their names and report them, and PC games make it even easier to show the griefing by allowing screenshots be captured. Griefing wouldn’t be as big of a deal if it weren’t for one major issue: as long as you aren’t tampering with the code of the game, or modding, you are NOT in violation of the TOS, so there is virtually NOTHING you can truly do about it! So, the people doing this can do it ALL DAY LONG, and the worst you can do is get angry, scream, report them, in some cases ban them from your location, and hope that the administrators of the game are willing to do something about it, which, more often or not, doesn’t happen.

To make matters worse, since the onset of online gaming, griefing has become organized! There are entire groups dedicated to screwing up your game! What makes it worse, they’ve begun to legitimize their actions. Their basis? The internet is “serious business,” and should be taken less seriously, so, to cause a person to become upset over a video game is their whole goal. Because people invest time, energy, and money, they are “too serious” and have earned the right to have their work assaulted. So, if I spent the time and money to create a section of land on my Second Life, create exactly what I want, invest the time and money to create my own private oasis, and set it exactly as I want to, oh, and am a wulf (since Furries (animal-based avatars) are “taking the internet too serious,” because they role-play a lot), I have earned the right for some griefer to come to my spot and attack it with different weapons and tools? I don’t think so! But, there’s really nothing I can do except ban them from my land, take some screenshots, report the person, and attempt to have their profile banned. Problem is, that doesn’t matter, because with most places, they can just create a new avatar and do it all over again. It doesn’t matter that they have ruined hours of work, and, possibly, cost myself or the game company real money, because they didn’t violate the Terms of Service (ToS). These groups even go as far as to put it in their own ToS that you may NOT directly or indirectly violate game ToS’s so they can’t be banned from the game in general, or you will be banned from the group! These people are so dedicated to screwing up your game that members aren’t allowed to screw up theirs!

Now, here’s the real funny part — these griefers, who are mostly male, actually have to invest time, money, and energy to actually orchestrate and enact the attacks that they put out. Which means they are the same things that they claim to be attacking – people who take the internet too seriously. The head of the organization Something Awful actually makes his outright living off of harassing anything that he deems too serious on the web, race, religion, sexism, even body design. A new era of hatred on the digital front? Sounds like it! It’s really a shame that I find their stupidity hilarious! See, I may enjoy my game, but I’m not so miserable and self-centered that the only way I can “have fun” is to prevent others from having their own fun.

Now, here’s the real interesting thing. With the laws suddenly popping up about cyber-bullying, and the fact that these attacks can actually disrupt the real business being conducted on these games, when will this become not an “art form,” as some of them try to claim, but a crime, punishable just like any other crime. What will happen with these groups who openly dedicate their BS? They won’t immediately disappear, but I can’t wait for them actually get what they deserve. Bullying and disruption of any kind is wrong. They need to realize that their freedoms end where mine begin. If they want to attack the people willing to put up with their shit, have at it. But, when I log into Xbox Live, Second Life, Pogo, or ANY online gaming medium, and you are making it so I can’t play, and you aren’t on an opposing team, you are now violating my rights and freedoms and need to suffer appropriate consequences.

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