Good Griefing

Good Griefing
A Griefer's Life for Me

Brett Staebell | 5 May 2009 12:06
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Though our bellows of "yarr!" and "ye mateys!" were rendered gibberish by our cross-faction language barrier, our jaunty hats and parrots sliced through the text filter like a cutlass through the rigging. We caught newcomers unawares, leaping from the ship's cabin and paralyzing them with a volley of attacks that more often than not left them dead on the spot. The less fortunate ones were held hostage with snaring abilities, their text boxes inundated with the entire spectrum of emotes before we had sailed far enough to make them "walk the plank." There may be a dearth of sharks in WoW, but adventurous players will be the first to tell you that the dark, life-sapping waters far from shore are equally effective.

As expected, our seafaring shenanigans began to attract the attention of higher level players, and port landings took on a more tactical tone. Our barbarian yawps remained unchanged, but we were forced to err increasingly on the side of caution as we lost men on each return. Odds worsened exponentially when we were forced to battle both increasing enemy numbers and mounting lag caused by their presence. Several hours and a mountain of corpses later, the scourge of Vae Victus had been scuttled by the combined Alliance effort.

For most tales of griefing, the story ends here: a couple of hours wasted by a horde of piratical idiots finding their sea legs. Most of us logged off for the night, but those who lingered around the forums like proper WoW addicts made an interesting discovery. We expected a response from our Alliance brethren. What we didn't expect was for it to be overwhelmingly positive.

Post after post poured in from players we had deliberately wronged, some of whom seemed to have had more fun than we did. Many even asked when the next "Boat Wars" would begin, promising stiffer competition when we next chose to hurl down the gauntlet. We had done our damnedest to inconvenience as many people as possible for as long as we could, and they were begging us to do it again.

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What was the root of this digital Stockholm Syndrome? Why was this form of griefing tolerated, even welcomed, while others were reviled? To understand the answer, one must give us virtual terrorists a closer look.

It's not hard to understand a griefer: We might be running the same software as you, but we're playing an entirely different game. Our achievements aren't rewarded with a glitzy text box and an orchestral fanfare, but rather the inevitable moment when the opponent gives up and logs off. Whether out of boredom, malice or curiosity, we will push the limits of a game until we find a crack, slipping through to operate in a way unintended by the programmers and scorned by our peers.

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