What Makes Griefers Grief?

from the here-comes-the-science dept

There are lots of reasons to explain why people are such jerks online, such as anonymity or a lack of direct human contact. You might imagine that similar reasons could explain griefers — people who intentionally harass or annoy other players in online games — but one psychiatrist says it’s got more to do with group dynamics. She says that griefers could frequently be either “defiant leaders” (people who are ambivalent or reluctant to remain part of a group) or “scapegoat leaders” (who, as the name implies, become scapegoats and marginalized), and their griefing is a manifestation of their acting out these roles. Out-of-game psychology can influence these players, so for instance, if they’re a scapegoat in their family, they might take on that role in a game as well. But, the psychiatrist adds that griefers could also just be mentally ill, whether they’re depressed, have a psychotic disorder, or substance abuse problems. The bottom line, really, seems to be that people could be jerks in games for pretty much the same reasons they could be jerks in real life, which doesn’t exactly help explain the phenomenon. As for a solution, GamePro recommends responding “with compassion”, so if you can get a griefer to stop killing you long enough, try to get them on your amateur shrink’s couch.

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Comments on “What Makes Griefers Grief?”

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Jacob Buck says:

i vote that the lack of physical interaction emboldens the little twerps. when dealing with people (face to face or not) i am always respectful, and no one hassles me in person. granted that might be because i’m 6’9 and 240 pounds. if it was people acting out their family roles in group settings, i would still encounter jerks in my day to day. the only other reason for morons online must be the lack of reprecussions via physical interaction ( an ass whooping, for example ).

Anonymous Coward says:

“GamePro recommends responding “with compassion”,”

[sarcasm]Yeah, that’ll work.[/sarcasm]
I recommend a swift kick to the balls, if that’s not available, a swift ban to the face. Griefers aren’t going to stop if you ask them nicely, threaten their life, or anything in between. “GamePro” would know this if they had ever spent 5 minutes in an online game.

Dan says:

Re: Re: Re:

This line of thinking gives me the idea of a USB controlled telescopic boxing glove. You know those kind that are used in slapstick comedy and cartoons?

The device would be spring loaded and you could release it over USB and with the right software, over the internet.

I imagine a future where every internet user is required to have one, and eventually we’ll make an upgrade to a “Switft Kick Boot” on a pneumatic arm from behind the chair.

I’m actually completely serious about doing this (for shits and giggles), so if anybody knows where I can get a telescopic arm (the kind that looks like this: XXXXXXXXX ), let me know. I can build the controller and the software no prob.

MrPaladin says:

Excuse me but I have another option...

I believe theres another option then ‘with compassion’

you see in general, these jerks know they are being jerks, because when the same thing is done to them they dont like it either…

so ‘with compassion’ if you want I would prefer that they get a nice perma ban from whatever they are greifing in… then after a few bans they can realise their behavior is not acceptable anywhere, and either seek real life companionship, or behave correctly ingame…

hell in a real life game of chess, football or any ‘sport’ if someone greifed they would get thrown out of the game…. how is online any different to that?!?!?

with compassion my arse….

thecaptain says:

I agree with MrPaladin

I don’t think there are many cases where “griefers” don’t realize they are acting like jerks, they know it, they revel in it.

Asking anyone to extend to them compassion is like your mother telling you “ignore them and they will go away”. These people have incredible patience and focus and loads more time than most people do…and their sole goal is to get a rise out of people. Ignoring them or being “nice” to them just ups the ante, makes them want to work even more to piss you off.

Ban em, eventually they’ll either get the hint, or just move off somewhere else.

Griefers get off on griefing because there are no consequences, “compassion” will not give them those consequences…so until you can find a way to punch em in the groin over TCP/IP, banning them is one consequence they CAN experience.

Anonymous Coward says:

Robert A. Heinlein, the science fiction writer, suggested there are a lot of people in this world who are thoroughly miserable for whatever reason and their only purpose in life is to make everyone else as miserable as they are.

According to Heinlein, these people are never going to change and they are “better off dead”. In fact, we’d all be better off if they were dead. They’d be happier and we’d be happier.

He called it his “Better Off Dead List”.

I think “griefers” fall into this category.

lol says:


Let’s see, I have been a grief killer since the first MMORPG’s… That just how I play the game. I don’t give a rats ass about farming gold or getting a Vanq BattleAxe.. I just want to PvP. You are in the same world as me, if you want to survive, you must kill me.

I find it amusing now the band of noobs have formed together and trying to find psychological reasons for us to kill you… Now go back to your care bear land servers and hold hands and roast marshmellows.. If you want to play with real players join a fucking real server

Charles Griswold says:

Re: lol

Let’s see, I have been a grief killer since the first MMORPG’s… That just how I play the game. I don’t give a rats ass about farming gold or getting a Vanq BattleAxe.. I just want to PvP. You are in the same world as me, if you want to survive, you must kill me.

I find it amusing now the band of noobs have formed together and trying to find psychological reasons for us to kill you… Now go back to your care bear land servers and hold hands and roast marshmellows.. If you want to play with real players join a fucking real server

I think that somebody needs a hug. 🙂

chaoticjelly (user link) says:

It's a game

This is just another reason for “shrinks” to make money. These are fricking games people. Just like people read books to escape reality and put themselves in different roles, so do MMORPGers…

I am a professional tech manager and very outgoing in all aspects of my RL community, however, I get in game and am a virtual world killer. Why? Because its interesting and a different story line. It’s fun.

Seriously, if you want to play an MMO where everyone is nice and there are no consequences, try Hello Kitty’s Adventure Island…

lol says:

By the way, why am I jerk for grief killing you? I dont think the grief killer who kills me is a jerk. He is apparently a better player than myself.

c’mon.. you know it can happen, so you should be expecting it.

Its cloudy and you hear thunder.. you have three choices.

1) Stay outside by the flagpole
2) Run for cover
3) bring out your umbrella

obviously the majority of noobs choose 1.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sometimes griefing it needed to get frustrations out.
I’m on a lower level 30 doing some questing in STV, and upper level 30’s keep killing me, and then camping me to respawn and kill me again.
Well I’m sick of the griefing on me, so what do I do?
I log out of my current character. I log back in on my main character, and then take my level 70 all around the area and grief killing every character I can find, sometimes more than once. Then if I’m not satisfied, I move to a different area and kill some more. The original griefer’s fault for pissing me off!

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve run across a lot of griefers in Second Life, and they’re almost always kids, and almost always emotionally damaged in some way. Because of these two factors, all you can do is develop methods for keeping them out that also limits the enjoyment of the game for the rest of the players. Usually, though, people are willing to put up with the extra security steps to limit the access of the griefers to the game.

LKAJF says:

This is called making stuff up. Notice that none of the articles linked actually makes reference to any evidence or data, no peer-review studies, nothing. There is ZERO evidence offered that any “griefer” game player has any IRL mental issues whatsoever.

It’s just somebody with letters after their name, who probably doesn’t play games, hearing people crying second-hand and isn’t considering their motivations for whining.


Dimitry Kalashnikov says:

This is why I hate psychiatrists. They see someone’s actions over the internet and they suddenly believe they have some whole life story. I’ve been called a griefer many times. Why do I do it? I enjoy it to be honest. It’s fun to see people get all worked up over a game. Usually from my experiences, the griefers are the coolest people actually playing the game, as opposed to the other side which I like to call the WHINERS who would rather complain to developers to have THEM fix the problem.

Someone griefing you? Grief back, and if you give me some notion of e-morality then perhaps you should end yourself and relieve yourself of your misery AKA Your life.

Bob (user link) says:

O noes

Tbh i started off a LOT of games a carebear. Only really clued up within the last year. I never got amazingly EMO as do some, but took it too seriously for sure.

Most people will get shitty getting spawn ganked by a much higher level person. Theres a solution or two, gank them the F**K back (assuming you have a higher leve char), or move yourself (corpse drag, whatever) somewhere else and escape.

Or whine about it.

PVP is fun, in PURE pvp games (UO, Eve-O) ingame cash is purely to pay for your pvp habits. Get out of “OMGILUZESTUFFWAAAA” mode and ENJOY pvp. It is actually fun once you get into it.

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