Self-Governing Could Limit Griefing

Posted on June 26, 2006

The Guardian has a great article about griefers and what gamers and game developers are doing about them. Griefers are the trolls of the online gaming world. They intentionally wreck havoc in MMORPGs and persistent online worlds and ruin the game for others. The Guardian explains the bad things griefers do:

The gaming community calls them "griefers": people who like nothing better than to kill team-mates or obstruct the game's objectives. Griefers scam, cheat and abuse, often victimising the weakest and newest players. In games that attempt to encourage complex and enduring interactions among thousands of players, "griefing" has evolved from being an isolated nuisance to a social disease.
The article says a strong community system is required to counter the griefers but even that doesn't always work. The Guardian article describes one incident WOW that was essentially an MMORPG mass murder.
The players of World of Warcraft were left with a similar conundrum in March, when a group of gamers performed an act whose only purpose was to cause emotional pain. The death of a member of the community inspired her fellow gamers to hold a virtual funeral, which was raided by a malicious mob that made short work of the mourners, all of whom had relinquished their weapons as a sign of respect. Since the funeral was naively held in a zone designed for combat, few could question the legitimacy of the attack within the game's rules. None the less, the mourners were outraged, not at the penalties their characters would have to suffer, but at the brazen attack on their feelings.

The article says WOW banned over 5,000 accounts in April for griefing. Second Life has the corn field for suspensions and eventually griefers will be permanently banned. However, this can really cost the game developer as they lose subscription fees. What may really be needed is a form of self-policing or self-governing. This is what Scott Jennings, author of Massively Multiplayer Games For Dummies, told The Guardian.

"I expect we'll see more and more self-government," says Scott Jennings, game developer and author of Massively Multiplayer Games For Dummies. "The reason is fairly obvious if not particularly noble: it's less expensive for game companies to have their customers police themselves than hire people to do it. The trick, and why you don't see it generally, is to construct self-policing schemes in such a way that they don't enable unscrupulous players to use them as tools of grief."

The article mentions a game called Seed that has a form of government. It lets players elect other players to be administrators. As griefing becomes part of the game itself you can bet more user-created laws, guilds and governments will arise to control them. Gamers will have to cooperate and partner to protect the worlds they love.

More from Gamers Game