143: Griefer

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Griefer

"He squeezed off a couple chaser missiles, and they bee-lined for the jetwash at the back of the closest manned fighter. They drew so close to each other their contrails mingled. The enemy pilot yanked his chicken switch, lurching into the air on his ejection seat. His plane flew apart, white smoke chasing metal fragments towards the ground. I caught the yellow dome of a parachute as we set our planes to return home.

"Griefer slid his kit aside on its articulated arm and straddled his seat for a moment. 'I probably should've taken that pilot out. That would've been harsh, huh?'"

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This strikes me as a revenge fantasy on annoying snot nosed little spoilsports, even though it obviously is an April Fool's article. I admit I felt some schadenfreude when the narrator broke his hands and jaw. It also shows how much a fun game can be ruined by the immaturity of its audience.

april fool's article? it's fiction, part fo the fiction issue. and it's pretty entertaining. i know a couple griefers that i wouldn't mind taking the hammer to...

Thankfully we just use "ban hammers" so far.

Damn fine read, the absurdity of it all struck me as both funny and tragic, much like I find a griefer in online games.

Though one thing puzzles me, why was it such an unacceptable move to bust up the other controllers at the end? Are they police men or was it a battlefield? The "old" pilot didn't seem to have a problem downing manned airships, but doing in the UAV pilots and crew was bad form somehow? I would think in a battle field, jamming / scrambling / infecting the enemy UAV pilot signal would be a priority, even to the point of reducing the UAV pilot to ash.

Haha. Such a great read. Griefing asshole meets real life, doesn't understand it.
Then griefing asshole meets hammer.

God, haven't we all wanted to take a hammer to some jackoff like that? Revenge fantasy? God yes, definitely. But everyone needs to let off a bit of steam once in a while.
I loved it.

CanadianWolverine:
Though one thing puzzles me, why was it such an unacceptable move to bust up the other controllers at the end? Are they police men or was it a battlefield? The "old" pilot didn't seem to have a problem downing manned airships, but doing in the UAV pilots and crew was bad form somehow? I would think in a battle field, jamming / scrambling / infecting the enemy UAV pilot signal would be a priority, even to the point of reducing the UAV pilot to ash.

My read would be along the lines of: you take out the machine, not the man. Same reason it wasn't okay to shoot the pilot once he ejected. Taking down the plane, where the guy dies, that's collateral damage; it wasn't your primary objective.

It made more sense once I googled what UAV is : Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The easiest example are the Predator drones being used by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Judging by the tone of the narrator, Griefer potentially provoked an international incident. The areas and enemies being talked about are ones that have been clandestinely fought against for decades. We're talking "black ops" here. A dead pilot or two would be hard to explain, but going kamikaze on an airstrip is many times harder. On top of that, you don't know if Griefer actually killed the enemy UAV pilots. He could have killed innocent civilians. It would be like the U2 incident or the Bay of Pigs incident from the Cold War. And it would all be provoked by one narcissistic kid. Can you imagine that?

General Ma Chao:
We're talking "black ops" here.

Hard to reconcile that notion with their statistics being posted by CNN, and video footage/replays of their dogfights being aired worldwide.

I found it a comic, unique read which is appropriate(ish!) to the gaming community whilst remaining immensely easy to read due to the high quality in which it was written.

Er, basically.

Geoffrey42:

General Ma Chao:
We're talking "black ops" here.

Hard to reconcile that notion with their statistics being posted by CNN, and video footage/replays of their dogfights being aired worldwide.

More along the lines of "we all know we're there, but we don't know exactly what they're doing"
Everyone knew the US and USSR were nipping at each other extensively during the Cold War. Just no one was sure how.

I don't think the political minutia is the point.

Great story. The shocking lack of sportsmanship shown by most gamers online can really depress me sometimes.

Brilliant read. I love the way the story conveys the continuing disconnect between the pixels on the screen and the real people behind them.

Life isn't a game and when you begin to treat it like one, you head down some very dark paths indeed.

General Ma Chao:
More along the lines of "we all know we're there, but we don't know exactly what they're doing"
Everyone knew the US and USSR were nipping at each other extensively during the Cold War. Just no one was sure how.

Are you debating this point just to bait me? In the case of Griefer, it seems to me that it is along the lines of "we all know exactly where they are, exactly what they're doing, how many times they're doing it, and who they're doing it to, and we watch it for entertainment."

Hendar23:
I don't think the political minutia is the point.

I was going to nitpick for the humor, until I realized that you actually had correct subject-verb agreement with your non-standard usage of the singular "minutia". Foiled!

COMPLETE SIDE NOTE:
In thinking a little bit more about what Griefer did, it occurred to me... Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Geoffrey42:

General Ma Chao:
More along the lines of "we all know we're there, but we don't know exactly what they're doing"
Everyone knew the US and USSR were nipping at each other extensively during the Cold War. Just no one was sure how.

Are you debating this point just to bait me? In the case of Griefer, it seems to me that it is along the lines of "we all know exactly where they are, exactly what they're doing, how many times they're doing it, and who they're doing it to, and we watch it for entertainment."

Hendar23:
I don't think the political minutia is the point.

I was going to nitpick for the humor, until I realized that you actually had correct subject-verb agreement with your non-standard usage of the singular "minutia". Foiled!

COMPLETE SIDE NOTE:
In thinking a little bit more about what Griefer did, it occurred to me... Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

I maybe over-thinking the political parts of it. The problem is that it really throws off your sense of logic. I mean, would any modern Air Force give command of a sophisticated weapon system to a kid? Maybe I'm just over-thinking the whole thing.

Geoffrey42: I am not intending to bait. My apologies.

General Ma Chao:
I am not intending to bait. My apologies. I may just be over-thinking the enemy part of it.

No need to apologize, nor anything wrong with overthinking. We are, after all, debating the political environment of a 4-page short story. By "bait", I wasn't intending negative connotations. Sometimes, I argue just for the sake of arguing. I was trying to figure out if you were arguing for the sake of arguing (and thus maybe just playing Devil's Advocate), or if you were invested in the viewpoint you were putting forward.

I actually finally decided to make an account just so I can reply to this fiction.

I like it. It reminds me a lot of, say, an Ender's Game. Only, you know, if Andrew Wiggin had been a more, shall we say, realistic 6 year old by today's standards. In fact, this story is essentially Ender's Game. Recall (for those who have read it) the scene at the conclusion of the main story in which our good friend Ender uses a super weapon against the bugger's homeworld, under the impression that it's just a simulation he's playing, even knowing that doing so is against the "rules of the game". (This being the final element of a long series of escalating violent actions by the protagonist. Including, but not limited to, when he killed a fellow student in self-defense in the shower. And when he broke that other boy's legs.)

But, then again, I liked Ender's game the first time I read it, and I guess I still do. Thank you, Orson Scott Card Redux.

General Ma Chao:
I mean, would any modern Air Force give command of a sophisticated weapon system to a kid? Maybe I'm just over-thinking the whole thing.

Two things comes to mind for me here:
1. Toys
2. British Army seeks videogame enthusiasts to fly Apache

I agree though, that I find it hard to believe a modern military would do this. But, in an age where increasingly the combatants are not put in harm's way as much as their equipment is, I can see this being more viable in the future. Also, while we're big on protecting children 'round these parts, I imagine the psychological conditioning the military puts individuals through would be easier with kids. You don't have to go through that whole "Break them down, build them back up" routine. Just start from the bottom and build them up!

Geoffrey42:
Two things comes to mind for me here:
1. Toys

Glad someone pointed this out. The idea back when I first saw it horrified me, but this article is one of the better pieces of fiction I've read for a while, so much so it pretty much had me going until the hammer segment.

Heh. Banhammer'd IRL...

Also, The Last Starfighter and that Best Friends Forever episode of South Park brought up the idea of training people up for conflicts through video games. Admitedly, not as seriously, but hey - next time you guys pwn some n00bs from the MiB guild, don't be suprised when they come knocking at your door for a recruitment offer you can't refuse.

This article goes on my favorites

Reminds me mostly of the setting of Forever_Peace:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forever_Peace

Interesting allegory ...

This is one of my favorite fiction articles ever...great read, loved how in depth the combat was. Almost felt like it was real.

Parts of this kind of reminded me of 'Dogfight' a short story by the daddy of cyberpunk William Gibson, that not a bad thing as i'm a big fan of his work and this was a original and entertaining take on the idea.

Really, really good. Makes me hate those 12 year old Halo players even more though.

CanadianWolverine:
Thankfully we just use "ban hammers" so far.

Damn fine read, the absurdity of it all struck me as both funny and tragic, much like I find a griefer in online games.

Though one thing puzzles me, why was it such an unacceptable move to bust up the other controllers at the end? Are they police men or was it a battlefield? The "old" pilot didn't seem to have a problem downing manned airships, but doing in the UAV pilots and crew was bad form somehow? I would think in a battle field, jamming / scrambling / infecting the enemy UAV pilot signal would be a priority, even to the point of reducing the UAV pilot to ash.

I think it's a matter of perceived willingness of the person on the other side / mutual respect.

The pilots of the manned planes were making a choice to put their lives on the line by strapping in. Based on the shock of the narrator when the van was hit, UAV pilots do not operate under that premise.
The closest parallel I can think of off hand was the gentleman's rule of combat during the time of American revolution of not shooting for officers specifically during combat. But that rule was quickly ignored by sharpshooters and other irregular soldiers in the revolutionary army.

I enjoyed it...until the end. It seemed like it just ended too quickly. Griefer has a smashed hand and a broken jaw now. The narrator gets one last word in.

And that's it?

Griefer doesn't learn that it isn't all a game? The narrator just gets some satisfaction from physically harming a cocky griefer?

Maybe I am alone in thinking that there should have been more to it. It could be a story about someone finally getting to do something against cocky 12-year-old Halo players, but with all of the build up throughout the story, the ending left me wanting more. It would be like Ender's Game ending with the destruction of the Buggers, with nothing to indicate what it all meant.

00exmachina:
The closest parallel I can think of off hand was the gentleman's rule of combat during the time of American revolution of not shooting for officers specifically during combat. But that rule was quickly ignored by sharpshooters and other irregular soldiers in the revolutionary army.

The closest parallel I can think of is the Geneva Convention (specifically the "Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977."):

"Article 42 - Occupants of aircraft

1. No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent.

2. Upon reaching the ground in territory controlled by an adverse Party, a person who has parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack, unless it is apparent that he is engaging in a hostile act.

3. Airborne troops are not protected by this Article."

GBGames:
I enjoyed it...until the end. It seemed like it just ended too quickly. Griefer has a smashed hand and a broken jaw now. The narrator gets one last word in.

And that's it?

Maybe this is just me filling in gaps for my own self-satisfaction (because I agree, if that's all there was, it's not that fulfilling), but my impression was that by smashing the kid's hands, he was probably destroying his small-motor functionality. Scar tissue, etc, (depending on how smashed), despite large amounts of surgery, is going to keep that kid from being as good as he was. Hands are incredibly delicate things. The broken jaw was just for emphasis.

Pretty bad. It doesn't adopt the mature, emotionally disengaged perspective required for serious writing, causing the author's outrage to taint the work. Griefer's portrayal is extremely dehumanized and unrealistic; the story doesn't take into account the things that caused him to be the way he is. Also, the reader is supposed to expect a 12-year-old soldier to understand the consequences of his actions on a battlefield, which is ridiculous. He's obviously meant as a parody of the ubiquitous annoying kids in online games, but his one-dimensionality and lack of believability make him poorly done even in this light.

The narrator, on the other hand, can only be sympathized with on the most base level: taking pleasure in watching Griefer get his comeuppance, which you can only do if you don't see straight through the weak characterization. Beyond that, he is almost nonexistent as a character.

Even the basis for the story can't redeem it, since it's blatantly derivative of Ender's Game. That is, Ender's Game without the moral ambiguity and depth of character.

Overall, this seems to be more wish fulfillment and revenge fantasy on the author's part than real storytelling.

Geoffrey42:

COMPLETE SIDE NOTE:
In thinking a little bit more about what Griefer did, it occurred to me... Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

I thought that no one was going to mention the story's similarity to Ender's Game. I'm glad that someone brought it up. Still, I liked the story, especially the contrast between the personalities of the narrator and the Griefer. The Escapist's experiment with the Fiction Issue has been an enjoyable change.

I just had to say that I enjoyed the story, as mentioned previously it does have more than a passing similarity to Enders Game but I really did get into the visuals. You are quite good at description please keep it up.

This to me is what Enders Game would be like in this day and age. I mean all you have to do is look at the army's FPS to see that they are already thinking of using us "console jocks" in the future huh?

Anyway, thanks for the story, two thumbs up for entertainment value alone.

Maybe I'm just pointing out the elephant in the forum, but it strike me as strange that amidst all the talk of this story being a revenge fantasy, no one's mentioned the narrator's little revelation at the end of the story:

whindmarch:
The pilots stared. They might've come at me if they weren't just Freshmen. Freshmen don't take on Seniors.

Our "old salt" narrator only has four years on Griefer. They're both still in high school. The backbiting, bitching and sudden violence exhibited by our narrator isn't there because the writer wanted to us all to experience a little schaudenfruede, it's there because our narrator is himself immature. He likes to think of himself as mature and war-weary, but the truth is he just takes the game more seriously than Griefer.

My two cents, anyway.

I'll see your two cents...
1. The narrator's "senior" status is referenced on the first page. Not capitalized, nor juxtaposed with the term "freshmen" in the way it is in the last bit, but it didn't feel like a huge reveal to me.
2. Griefer is twelve, and a freshman. Not exactly standard age/grade correlation to the modern secondary (or higher) education system. If we see that the age/grade correlation has been thrown out the window, why would we still make the assumption that the difference between a freshman and a senior is 3 years of time?

And I'll raise you a penny:
3. The term "freshman" has uses outside of secondary/higher education. It generally just means noob, in multiple contexts (one example off the top of my google search would be "The Freshman Senator from Illinois", meaning a Senator in their first term, ie, Senatorial n00b).

All in all, I'm not trying to say that you're wrong (the author could've intended it to mean exactly what you say, or since all literature is subject to the reader's interpretation, it can be the way you choose to interpret it). I am saying that the elephant isn't nearly as large as you make it out to be. Based on the above, I wouldn't be ready to say that yours is the One True Reading.

Geoffrey42:
Based on the above, I wouldn't be ready to say that yours is the One True Reading.

Nor would I want it to be. But my reading seemed to indicate the narrator wasn't the most objective person to be passing judgment on Griefer, and I found it odd that his flow from annoyance to startling violence was attributed to an authorial revenge fantasy rather than an unreliable narrator.

rumtuggle:
But my reading seemed to indicate the narrator wasn't the most objective person to be passing judgment on Griefer, and I found it odd that his flow from annoyance to startling violence was attributed to an authorial revenge fantasy rather than an unreliable narrator.

Agreed that he's not very objective. I'm not entirely sure what his position as an unreliable narrator has to do with the flow of annoyance to startling violence, unless you're suggesting that he wasn't being entirely truthful with us about the events leading up to the assault?

While thinking about your comment, I came across an analogous situation, that I think places the narrator's actions in perspective. Let's say you've got two teams competitively shooting targets. Your teammate decides "Forget the targets, the easiest way to win is to shoot my opponents," turns to the other team, and opens fire, killing them all. You, in turn, lose it, and assault them. I don't find it hard to put myself in those shoes.

That was a fun read, sort of William Gibson/Bruce Sterling meets Counter Strike. I mean, leave aside all the Ender-esque stuff; as entertainment, this story worked for me. Beyond that I'm still mulling over the layers of significance.

I personally like the way that he theorized that, in future wars, killing wach other will be obsolete. Note that they don't say cartel forces were dwindling, but rather funds. And as for the Freshmen - Senior thing, what if it's an Academy? The age difference between a College Senior and a 12 year old would be huge. And I have to sympathize with the hatred of 12-year old griefers. It's why I don't play online unless I know the people I'm playing against.

"THAT WAS A WIERD ONE!" ten points for whoever gets that one. but anyway that was pretty cool, kind of wierd to think where we are going as gamers, and I totally vote that the NexBox be called XBox infinity!

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