Tobold's Blog
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Bored of being nice

I recently got griefed by a rather unusual suspect: Wilhelm Arcturus of The Ancient Gaming Noob blog. Basically he got bored of The Sims Social (so did I), and being bored of playing nice he experimented with the all the options to cause harm to his fellow players. For some reason he chose me as target and documented himself implying my mother was a llama with screenshots on his blog. Now The Sims Social is a Facebook game, and has what I call asynchronous social interactions: You interact with your friends' avatars even when your friends are offline. That enables these games to simply hide a lot of negative interactions. I do see when Wilhelm rearranges the keys on my keyboard, but I don't see him insulting my mother. If he hadn't posted it on his blog, I would have never known, and wouldn't have been forced to send my mother by his house to complain.

But the social mechanics of griefing other players out of boredom also work in games where players can actually harm each other. Proponents of PvP games often claim that griefing would not be a problem as long as the game had social mechanisms that would allow the upright citizens to ostracize or otherwise punish the griefing offender. But that only works if the player is still really interested in the game. If he is already bored, and ready to quit, he has nothing to lose. If the griefers avatar can hurt your avatar, and your avatar can hurt his avatar back, the loser is automatically the person who cares more for his avatar. The player who griefs because he is bored of the game is the automatic winner of such a contest.

Now some people, including companies, propose to solve that problem by introducing real IDs. If you know the real name of a person hurting you in a game, and that person doesn't care what you do to him in game, you can have your revenge outside the game. For example by murdering him. I am still at a loss why anybody would think that is a good idea.

And as I don't want games offering me the possibility of my enemies waiting for me in real life with a baseball bat in the parking lot, I do think that games like The Sims Social still have the best way to handle griefing: They simply hide the fact that you have been griefed from the victim. If another player can't really do anything to you which would hurt your avatar or game progress, there is no griefing.

I think some people will always seek to interact in a negative way. Bartle's types include Killer, a broad term covering all sorts of play that means making an opponent lose.

If someone's goal is to hurt an opponent then masking it the way the Sims does only offers the illusion of reaching that goal. If Wilhelm were a genuine griefer he'd realise that his remarks never reached you and find some other creative way to be a nuisance to people.

I remember reading an interview with a WoW player whose hobby was making people permanently leave the game and never log in again. After considerable experimentation he concluded his activities were more successful on a PVE server. People felt they should be safe there and were upset to be ganked and corpse camped. In pvp servers it's water off a duck's back.

Regarding Eve's figures some bloggers have done research :

And this forum thread discussed the PCU being beaten in January of this year:

The main anomaly has been that this summer's expansion did not see the traditional rise in users. Which is fair enough as it implemented a very unfinished avatar based system that just about no one is having fun with. To all intents and purposes Eve players didn't get an expansion this summer (unless you are one of the twenty players who really wanted to wear a monocle).

Otherwise the game seems to be plateauing out after a long period of sustained growth. If this winter's expansion is popular it may go back to growing again.
Real IDs seem incredibly naive to me. Do you really think players only get upset by griefing, or that there is even a consensus on what "griefing" is?

Try making a post on the Blizzard forums about how a certain class needs a nerf, and then see if you would like the responders to have access to your personal information.

This also allows griefing to go to the next level. Are you not particularly glad that this person did not have access to your real name when he decided to grief you?
They simply hide the fact that you have been griefed from the victim. If another player can't really do anything to you which would hurt your avatar or game progress, there is no griefing.

I believe that is the primary reason why Alliance and Horde characters can't talk to each other via WoW's in-game channels.
You were not singled out for special treatment. I went and insulted all of my neighbors. I'm the grumpy guy on the block now.

My plan was just to see what happens when you go evil. Not much. I'm tempted to see what happens if I apologize.

By the way, your mother came by and appears to be a fine and healthy alpaca, so I withdrawn my llama comments.
In real life too, small-time criminals are often people with the least amount to lose.
One reason why I am opposed to the trend towards having everyone play on the same giant server is the way it removes defensive options from the victims of griefing. I've rarely been griefed in MMOs but I have certainly had attention from players that I'd rather not have had.

Playing another character for a while is always a good way to deal with this, but it's not impossible for it to become apparent who your various alts are. In games with many servers, though, playing another character on a different server for a few days is often enough for the annoying party to have found someone else to focus his unwanted attentions on.

I'm also strongly opposed to the linking of characters to account for this reason, and of /ignore covering all characters on an account. I've had characters who have been on friendly terms with characters on another of my character's ignore list.

My characters aren't me.
Hmm, well my characters definitely *are* me. So I guess it's hard for them to cater to both of us.
If what you say is true, the sale of spray paint bottles would not be restricted in most cities.

"Some people aren't looking for anything rational. Some people just want to see the world burn."

Some people don't even want to see the world burn. Some people - a lot of them - enjoy just harming people they'll never meet.
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