200: A Folk Hero for the Online Age

A Folk Hero for the Online Age

The Reconstruction Era had Jesse James. The Great Depression had Bonnie & Clyde. The Internet Era has ... GoonSwarm? Tom Endo looks at today's griefers from a historical perspective and wonders whether they might fulfill the same societal functions as the legendary outlaws of yesteryear.

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tendo82:
Griefers are undisputedly failures at life.

Fixed for accuracy. Well, in other games at least. I realize that your intent was probably to lionize MMOG griefers, where at least there's potential for jackassery taking on a bit of nuance and individual flair. I get that. But there's nothing heroic about watching a teenage idiot repeatedly melee attack a wall, trying to glitch, while his mic blares muffled rap music that deafens the rest of his team.

If that's an outlaw, gimme a badge.

Griefers aren't even interesting to watch imho. And i definitely dont tell stories about getting griefed or watching some1 get griefed. It's something i try to forget as soon as possible and avoid in the future. In my experience, griefers are just frustrated angry people who can't vent in real life so they do it in games.

If Jesse James and Bonnie & Clyde hold as examples, griefers will all die in a hail of gunfire.

Anyway, let me tell you about how successful griefers are in making a stamp on history: you didn't name a single specific griefer in an article specifically about how they might be individually remembered. Not one. You mentioned games - EVE, Second Life, WoW - and the odd co-opted event - the Zombie Outbreak - but didn't name a single specific griefer. They've certainly existed, but the fact that none were named speaks volumes for the griefer's place in history.

UnSub:
If Jesse James and Bonnie & Clyde hold as examples, griefers will all die in a hail of gunfire.

Anyway, let me tell you about how successful griefers are in making a stamp on history: you didn't name a single specific griefer in an article specifically about how they might be individually remembered. Not one. You mentioned games - EVE, Second Life, WoW - and the odd co-opted event - the Zombie Outbreak - but didn't name a single specific griefer. They've certainly existed, but the fact that none were named speaks volumes for the griefer's place in history.

The attack on the WoW in-game funeral.

CantFaketheFunk:

UnSub:
If Jesse James and Bonnie & Clyde hold as examples, griefers will all die in a hail of gunfire.

Anyway, let me tell you about how successful griefers are in making a stamp on history: you didn't name a single specific griefer in an article specifically about how they might be individually remembered. Not one. You mentioned games - EVE, Second Life, WoW - and the odd co-opted event - the Zombie Outbreak - but didn't name a single specific griefer. They've certainly existed, but the fact that none were named speaks volumes for the griefer's place in history.

The attack on the WoW in-game funeral.

Wait there was an in-game funeral in WoW, what did superman die again?

I feel the article fails to draw the line between the 'griefer' - commonly an obnoxious retard who 'destroys your fun for kicks' as I've seen the motto printed. Remember the Barney Blockers of SvenCoop, a whole community of people who used the Barney model and went AFK in vital doorways on unadminned servers?

... And the creative individuals who stretch the boundaries and enact in potentially offensive performance art. You're blurring them together to make a perceived point, but I imagine most people would appreciate the one and deride the other without noting any real connection.

If we're going to categorise anyone, lets be a little more distinct in how we bestow these titles ;)

UnSub:
You mentioned games - EVE, Second Life, WoW - and the odd co-opted event - the Zombie Outbreak - but didn't name a single specific griefer. They've certainly existed, but the fact that none were named speaks volumes for the griefer's place in history.

The GoonSquad managed to disband some big huge alliance in EVE, definitively redrawing the lines of power in the game's universe. I don't play MMOs, but I found the drama pretty interesting in a trainwreck passerby kind of way.

I imagine that event will probably be more than a footnote in EVE's collective history.

I, too, think that there needs to be a distinction between a rebel and a griefer. The rebels like Jesse James realized that they didn't have to play by the rules -- they could "win" by breaking the rules that everybody else abided by. I consider it more like exploiting or cheating, which often take a lot of work to do. It may seem unfair to those who played by the rules, but even those who have been cheated wish they could be the ones cheating.

Contrast that with the typical griefer: spamming text or mic, team killing, and otherwise being a nuasance. They aren't winning the game in any way. Maybe they are winning their own game, but nobody else shares in that game.

Stories like GoonSwarm disbanding Band of Brothers are interesting because of the hard work and talent that they involve. In a game about building the most powerful empire, there is no better weapon than destroying your opponents from the inside. That GoonSwarm managed to undo with a single person what took hundreds of others years to accomplish is amazing for its ability to find a weakness in the system. They weren't griefers -- they were playing the same game -- but they "won" through a method that nobody else before had managed. The real griefers run scams like can baiting. It doesn't further their progress in the game, it just lets them have fun in their own way at the expense of somebody who is actually trying to play the game.

Rebels and folk heroes are idolized for their ability to work outside the system to win, and for this, their transgressions are overlooked. Griefers are hated for pointlessly creating a nuasance to others. Even if they accomplish things in similar ways, their motivation can make all the difference.

UnSub:
Anyway, let me tell you about how successful griefers are in making a stamp on history: you didn't name a single specific griefer in an article specifically about how they might be individually remembered. Not one. You mentioned games - EVE, Second Life, WoW - and the odd co-opted event - the Zombie Outbreak - but didn't name a single specific griefer. They've certainly existed, but the fact that none were named speaks volumes for the griefer's place in history.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_120/2552-Fansy-The-Famous-Bard

I understand what you're getting at, but you should probably have picked a better word. "Griefers" are just players out to give other players grief, hence the name. They're more inclined pull off boring examples of jackassery like corpse-camping than they are to do anything with artistic merit.

I can't think of any existing term that adequately describes the sort of character you present, so you should just go ahead and make up new name.

I actually enjoy griefing quite a bit when it's well done. Team killing is just so uncreative, it doesn't really compare when someone actually finds a way to break the game and drag other people down with them. But the EVE Online destruction of Band of Brothers? Now that was awesome to hear about.

I will admit, there are some times when Griefing can not only be funny, but not actually harm people's enjoyment of the game. I'm sure most people here have seen Team Roomba's TF3 Griefing videos. And if you have, you'll remember the trivia contest thing one guy did, when he glitched the door jammed and wouldn't let his team out until they answered his trivia questions. At first, I thought that was incredibly annoying. Then I thought about it, and I realized I would love for something like that to happen to me when I'm playing. Just to throw me for a loop, change my game experience a bit.

On the other hand, the common griefer is just annoying, for the most part. Wall glitching, shooting through the floor, that kind of thing, they all are just exploiting broken parts of the game that, while they may seem cool to the people actually doing the griefing, ruin the experience for the people who are trying to play the game seriously. I for one am not a fan of spawning to find that someone has glitched their way into the spawn point just to shoot me over and over again before I can even play. I can no longer play Counter Strike because of how many people know all the glitches and stuff. There's no way for me to win anymore.

I can't belive this guys trien to make griefers sound heroic. Griefers are cheating pieces of shit who ruin games and piss off people. Hackers and cheaters are scum in my book,idoits like gillsellers and morons who kill you over and over unfairly or kill all the quest npcs in a town while your triein to quest or kill you for no damn reason should all be barred from the net. Griefers arent heroic there idiots and retards who just like ruining the fun of other ppl online.

ReverseEngineered:
It may seem unfair to those who played by the rules, but even those who have been cheated wish they could be the ones cheating.

With respect, no they don't; not all of them, anyway. Some (I'd argue many, but the point is arguable) play by the rules because they want the level playing field the rules present; to them, winning by cheating is an empty experience and no more desirable than winning because all the other players quit out in the first twenty seconds of play.

I do agree that there is a fundamental difference between cheaters and griefers; cheaters care about the outcome of the game, and griefers don't. That's pretty much it, in my opinion.

-- Steve

Jakkar:
I feel the article fails to draw the line between the 'griefer' - commonly an obnoxious retard who 'destroys your fun for kicks' as I've seen the motto printed. Remember the Barney Blockers of SvenCoop, a whole community of people who used the Barney model and went AFK in vital doorways on unadminned servers?

... And the creative individuals who stretch the boundaries and enact in potentially offensive performance art. You're blurring them together to make a perceived point, but I imagine most people would appreciate the one and deride the other without noting any real connection.

If we're going to categorise anyone, lets be a little more distinct in how we bestow these titles ;)

What he said!

An interesting read. I don't play any MMO's, so I'm not very familiar with this sort of thing.

In the past, I have thought it would be cool to do certain things if I ever did play any MMO's - like become a really strong character, and then just go off into the wild and stake out a patch of territory, and just become like a bandit or monster or something, attacking and killing any players that wander into my turf. Stories of the murderous beast of the wastes would spread, and my legend would grow. But like it was said in the article, the rules structures and designs of games aren't usually conducive to that sort of thing.

Well... I once played Ultima Online on a private shard, and there the situations the article described happened.

But that shard was rp-pvp niché that catered to about... 200 people at best. Player-created events and robberies, wars and silly accidents became the stuff of legends there, but only for those 200 and perhaps some who were told afterwards.

Nowadays, in WOW-esque games, this stuff wouldn't happen anymore.

Griefers are "heroic" characters in some games. But if it's done with little style and creativity, it's reduced to general idiocy.

And it's not like you can be that creative in most big MMOs today. Without hacking, that is. And hacking for pure advantages (and not for say, exploring. Because using glitches to explore unfinished WoW content back in the day was amazing fun, too bad they fixed it.) is truly for losers.

There should be a difference drawn between an idiot corpse camping someone and calling them "fag" while communicating with horrible grammar and no style at all and someone who might even do the same thing but with great style and near perfect grammar... and lack of immature insults.

That bard from EQ was pretty cool. Can't remember the name now... Fancypants? something like that. That's good, interesting griefing. Same goes for the people who ruined that funeral in WoW. I actually do applaud them.

Griefers as Robin Hood figures? Yeah, right!

Sorry, but there's nothing 'heroic' about Griefers; they're just a bunch of sad no-lifers.

Wargamer:
Griefers as Robin Hood figures? Yeah, right!

Sorry, but there's nothing 'heroic' about Griefers; they're just a bunch of sad no-lifers.

The folk hero analogy, as most of you have now realized, isn't a perfect apples to apples comparison. Obviously Johnny Appleseed or Paul Bunyan don't work within the analogy. Neither am I trying to suggest that individual Griefers are heroic. We can all admit that, with few exceptions, they're basically terrorists when you deal with them on an individual basis.

However, I think as an entire group, as an archetype, Griefers do fulfill this psychological need we have, as a society, for the outlaw as a romantic hero. This is why people love movies about the Mafia when, if we're honest with ourselves, the Mafia are basically a bunch of thugs who terrorize lawful society. We all know this, and yet we're able to enjoy romanticized portraits of them like The Godfather. I think Griefers are fulfilling a similar role, they provide that kind of entertainment at a remove the outlaw gives us. But no one would advocate we stop prosecuting them in real life, just because we enjoyed the Godfather.

tendo82:

Wargamer:
Griefers as Robin Hood figures? Yeah, right!

Sorry, but there's nothing 'heroic' about Griefers; they're just a bunch of sad no-lifers.

The folk hero analogy, as most of you have now realized, isn't a perfect apples to apples comparison. Obviously Johnny Appleseed or Paul Bunyan doesn't work within the analogy. Neither am I trying to suggest that individual Griefers are heroic. We can all admit that, with few exceptions, they're basically terrorists when you deal with them on an individual basis.

However, I think as an entire group, as an archetype, Griefers do fulfill this psychological need we have, as a society, for the outlaw as a romantic hero. This is why people love movies about the Mafia when, if we're honest with ourselves, the Mafia are basically a bunch of thugs who terrorize lawful society. We all know this, and yet we're able to enjoy romanticized portraits of them like The Godfather. I think Griefers are fulfilling a similar role, they provide that kind of entertainment at a remove the outlaw gives us. But no one would advocate we stop prosecuting them in real life, just because we enjoyed the Godfather.

No no no, even that analogy is god-awful!

Let's go with a good analogy; Pirates. Why are Somalian Pirates 'evil' yet the Pirate archetype of Jack Sparrow so clearly 'Good'? Because Somalian Pirates are a bunch of bastards with AKs who murder merchant seamen and holidaying tourists passenger liners.

Whilst Jack Sparrow may get into a bit of a kerfuffle with the Royal Navy, and even yoink a ship or two, he is at least doing it for the right reasons... sort of. If it weren't for Jack Sparrow, the ocean would still be plagued by various Undead or Semi-Undead Evils and whathaveyou, so ultimately he was breaking a few rules for the good of everyone.

This is the key point here; Robin Hood may have murdered several people, but he murdered them because they picked the wrong side, so we don't care. Heroes are only heroic because they are on our side (ie: the side of the common man, not the drug-dealing asshats, paedophiles of the criminal classes, nor the ultra-rich elite or corrupt government official). Pirates, Ninjas and so on, when idolized, are invariably fighting the Good Fight... just not in the way that the insufferable Stars & Stripes Saluting Ultra-Patriot Superheroes do. In short, they fight the Good Fight the way real, ordinary people would; by taking the law into their own hands.

Griefers are never, ever on the side of the 'common man'. They are scum of the worst kind. If the WoW Griefers were somehow griefing Blizzard because they'd upped the prices, or griefing them so everyone else could get access to an otherwise inaccessible region or item set, then the analogy would stand; sticking it to the man is heroic, being a twat is not.

tendo82:

Wargamer:
Griefers as Robin Hood figures? Yeah, right!

Sorry, but there's nothing 'heroic' about Griefers; they're just a bunch of sad no-lifers.

The folk hero analogy, as most of you have now realized, isn't a perfect apples to apples comparison. Obviously Johnny Appleseed or Paul Bunyan don't work within the analogy. Neither am I trying to suggest that individual Griefers are heroic. We can all admit that, with few exceptions, they're basically terrorists when you deal with them on an individual basis.

However, I think as an entire group, as an archetype, Griefers do fulfill this psychological need we have, as a society, for the outlaw as a romantic hero. This is why people love movies about the Mafia when, if we're honest with ourselves, the Mafia are basically a bunch of thugs who terrorize lawful society. We all know this, and yet we're able to enjoy romanticized portraits of them like The Godfather. I think Griefers are fulfilling a similar role, they provide that kind of entertainment at a remove the outlaw gives us. But no one would advocate we stop prosecuting them in real life, just because we enjoyed the Godfather.

Don't worry Tom I enjoyed the article and as a once long time player of EVE-Online I completely agree.

Griefers are the antidote to the fact that, despite playing imaginary characters in imaginary scenarios with no real rewards or outcomes, people take gaming way too seriously.

A reality check every now and then can't be a bad thing.

in_95:
Griefers are the antidote to the fact that, despite playing imaginary characters in imaginary scenarios with no real rewards or outcomes, people take gaming way too seriously.

A reality check every now and then can't be a bad thing.

That can go either way really. Yes, there are people that take games way too seriously, but that's only a portion of that bunch. Naturally, if you're paying a monthly fee to Blizzard or whoever to play their MMO, you want to do the best you can to maximize your fun/progress to get your money's worth. But you have to know when to turn the game off and get back to reality (like any of us with common sense).

I have 4 years worth of time in City of Heroes/Villains, but I hop to it when reality comes knocking. Real life is a bigger priority.

Now, Grievers who mess with people that lose their jobs or drop out of school to play online games... I'd advocate that behavior. They deserve it for being such incredibly thick twats.

"Go, Leeroy Jenkins! I WILL TELL YOUR STORY!!!"

There was nothing griefing about the zombie invasion in wow, except for the whiners who complained about it

teknoarcanist:
"Go, Leeroy Jenkins! I WILL TELL YOUR STORY!!!"

Are you suggesting Leeroy Jenkins was a griefer?

I'm aware of examples of individual griefers - Fansy has been covered, there was the Unibomber in UO (http://www.thepurge.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8270), the Mittiani for EvE - but I thought it was telling that an article about them really couldn't name individuals. It's probably because griefing is usually a very personal experience and not something that translates well from game to game.

The issue here is that the 'noble outlaw' archetype doesn't work for griefers when what you see them do is gang up on those weaker than them, kill them and then teabag them while insulting their victim's sexuality. Robin Hood (at least in his most well known guise) didn't do that - he stood up to the system, robbed from the rich to give to the poor, and all that.

The best griefer ever in my mind was unfortunately quite buried by Blizzard and perma banned and what not.

Anyway it was an alliance hunter and I really wish I knew his/her name. There is a boss in Molten Core that places this bomb on someone randomly that is intended to wipe out the entire team unless they down it fast enough, or something like that. Well this particular time the boss put the bomb on the hunter's pet so the hunter in a stroke of evil brilliance dismissed the pet and killed the boss with his group and hearthed to Ironforge. Since the mob/person with the bomb didn't exist in the game's mind when the boss died it was not removed. The hunter unleashed their pet in the middle of Ironforge and the explosion literally crashed the server. Apparently there are limits to what the game can handle as far as number of people and npcs dieing in one instant.

Blizz quickly determined this was a deliberate act and acted accordingly, but it's probably my favorite griefer story. I think the server was Dark Iron but I might be misremembering. That bomb 'debuff' can no longer exist outside MC.

As an admin in two sims on Second Life I don't find anything heroic about a person that purposefully rezzes prims that follow, shove, and scream rape in a high pitched squeal at people. There's nothing good about forcibly hurling a person so high into the air that the client loses track of their avatar and the game crashes.

I've had to deal with griefers quite a number of times as an admin. Not once have I seen anything good about it. Playing a practical joke or being rebellious isn't the same as purposefully harassing other players so that they can no longer enjoy a game.

Wargamer:
Griefers as Robin Hood figures? Yeah, right!

Sorry, but there's nothing 'heroic' about Griefers; they're just a bunch of sad no-lifers.

Just like the baw baw carebears that get attacked by griefers are sad? Seriously they just need to separate the servers- if you get too many griefer complaints they make you go onto a griefer server. If you're on a griefer server and its no fun - go to a carebear server and play that game. You could make nazi servers and boot anyone that pisses anyone off ever and be done with it. If you're on a PvP server and you whine- its your fault: you chose a PvP server.

Yeah after reading about Unibimber in UO - I have to conclude he was a pretty cool guy- he only griefed the greedy and let the players punish themselves.

Terminalchaos:

Wargamer:
Griefers as Robin Hood figures? Yeah, right!

Sorry, but there's nothing 'heroic' about Griefers; they're just a bunch of sad no-lifers.

Just like the baw baw carebears that get attacked by griefers are sad? Seriously they just need to separate the servers- if you get too many griefer complaints they make you go onto a griefer server. If you're on a griefer server and its no fun - go to a carebear server and play that game. You could make nazi servers and boot anyone that pisses anyone off ever and be done with it. If you're on a PvP server and you whine- its your fault: you chose a PvP server.

Yeah after reading about Unibimber in UO - I have to conclude he was a pretty cool guy- he only griefed the greedy and let the players punish themselves.

Congratulations, you have missed the point.

The people who defend Griefing are usually cuntbags themselves. People who complain about Griefers aren't all cowardly pussies who cry the moment someone says a bad word against them. The moment I boot up any PVP game, be it Killzone 2, Warhawk or whatever, I know that victory is achieved by trampling over the corpses of everyone who isn't on my side.

However, even then there are rules. Rule #1 is you don't try and kill your own team. Rule #2 is you don't go into battle against players who blatantly have no chance (ie: a seasoned pro going into a beginner server). In most FPS type games, Rule #3 - no Spawn Camping.

The fact is, I don't have a problem with going onto Resistance 2, facing off against a Supreme Commander (highest total rank available) and getting caned because he is better than me. I don't applaud him for kicking my arse, but I accept that I can't realistically expect to cake-walk every game.

What pisses me off is when you've got 8 strangers vs a 10-player Clan, who all have headsets and all spawn-camp you to fuck so you don't have a chance.

The problem that idiots who suggest 'nazi servers' is this; the moment you log on, all I have to do is Grief you by blaming you for something you didn't do. You get banned. Voila! Your anti-griefing system actually makes griefing worse!

This has got to be the most ignorant article I've ever seen on the Escapist. Seriously.

Griefers are people who go out of their way to ruin the play experience of other players. Not for any noble purpose or goal, but because they lack the skill or desire to play the game properly. They are scum, plain and simple.

Writing an article that attempts to glorify the acts of such socially inept creatures is simply pathetic.

Griefers get their jollies out of ruining the game for people who want to play legitimately, that's all. They don't care about acclaim or scorn, just that they screwed with someone else. Applauding these actions is shameful and childish at best, and downright disgusting otherwise. And for those of you deciding to agree with this article and the article writer itself, consider this: would you think their actions are so laudable if their sights were set on you? Would you think it funny if they chased you around and disrupt your game play to the point that your only option is to stop playing?

Yeah, didn't think so.

 

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