Get the latest Education e-news
 

Go Back   Game Career Guide Forums > Design
Forum Home Register Members List Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-28-2008, 04:43 AM   #1
Adrir
Administrator
 
Adrir's Avatar

Activity Longevity
1/20 20/20
Today Posts
0/11 sssss1466
Location: London, UK
Arrow Discussion: Looking for a Definition of Grief within MMORPGs

Discussion: Looking for a Definition of Grief within the Context of MMORPGs

Introduction

Grief is an element of online games that many players are familiar with. However, with the application of the term "Grief" can be ambiguous as it lacks a common definitive definition. Over a range of games, we can observe the dispariaty between how Grief is addressed. Additionally, there can be a lack of congruency between the perceptions of individual players and developers. So what actually is Grief? Who are the Griefers? What constitutes Grief? Hopefully, within this discussion we will address these issues.

A Common De Facto Definition

Individual players within a community may form their own ideas about griefing based on their opinions and experiences within the game world. As a community I feel we should explicitly determine a standard for what should and shouldn't be acceptable. While a tactic might be viewed as acceptable in other games, it might not fit well with the spirit of Fallen Earth or vice-versa.

Foo, C.Y. and Koivisto, E.M.I. (2004) have attempted to give us a general phrase that we, as players, can relate to when we consider Grief:
"A source of emotional anguish, annoyance or frustration"
However is this particular definition useful to our context? It is very broad and can be applied to many elements of a game. Can frustrations caused by the design of the game world itself be considered griefing? Is abuse of these broken designs griefing? Are technical constraints such as server queues appropriate to the term?

In my experience, such a general application is not suitable. There are plenty of single-player titles that can be frustrating, annoying or cause emotional anguish (Final Fantasy 7 for example). However the sensation of Grief is somewhat non-existant when compared to the MMO! The following is somewhat closer to how we, as players, feel is the appropriate de facto definition:
"A negative emotional experience procured through the effects of grief play or broken design within an interactive social gaming environment."
When I consider the term, the most obvious application is bound to a social context. The experience is not identical for anyone nor is it limited to anguish, annoyance or frustration. Some players may shrug off the most demeaning forms of grief play and continue unphased, others may get angry, upset and offended at trivial issues. Some may even become very upset.

Griefers and Grief Play

The concept of griefers and grief play are central to our definition of grief. Foo, C.Y. (2004) has provided us with a basic definition of a Griefer:
"A play style where a player intentionally disrupts the gaming experience of other players"
The problem with this particular definition, that is often adopted by many players, is that it fallaciously assumes the following premises (C.Y. Foo, 2004):
  • The act is intentional
  • It caused other players to enjoy the game less
  • The offender enjoyed doing it
Yee, N. (2005) presents a collection of situations in which this definition holds true:
"Most games (like Lineage 2) have an XP penalty when you die, and if someone targets you and stalks you while you play to just kill you multiple times, it's depressing/angering."
"My character once owned a house in UO. I was experiencing particularly bad lag and a player who had a faster connection took everything in my house, killed my character then also taunted me about how much gold his character made off my things."
"I had to leave a server because of a certain player that griefed me constantly. I squelched him but he would log on other peoples accounts to harass me. He had his friends harass me also. The words he used in private chat to me were just as nasty as the actions he described and threats he made. I reported him and nothing happened. He spread rumors about me being a thief and hacking accounts."
However, the reality of these situations are not often direct attacks nor driven by an intent to cause grief:
"When you camp out a spawn simply to collect the money and high end items you cause grief to other players because they never get a chance."
"A player with vendors somehow succeeds in cornering an important resource needed by players and is normally sold on NPC5 vendors, so that it no longer becomes available for sale on NPCs. Players can only buy the resource at increased prices, and the seller does this for the purpose of making large profits."
Are these last two examples griefing? This is an instance of what Foo, C.Y. (2004) describes as "greed play".
"Player Killing. It's the most rude obnoxious thing that folks 'say' is in the spirit of the game, but yet RARELY is even close to anything enjoyable for anyone but the PK'rs themselves."
Since PvP is consentual in Fallen Earth, PvP will hopefully not be a problem. However, how do people view the gank squads? Uneven playing fields? Potential beginner killing?
"A player persistently camps a high level mob for an item he wants. But because his character isn’t advanced enough, this mob kills the player, and proceeds to kill other neighbouring players. The others are unhappy and feel their gaming is being affected, but this player refuses to leave the area and continues to fight the high level mob, as he wants that item."
Does this sound familiar? Would this be considered griefing?
The Jedi hunting feature in Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (SWG) caused alot of problems within the game community. This was a perfectly valid feature intentionally implemented by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), the developers of SWG. However, it created a schism through which many players felt cheated and griefed.
What if a particular feature is abused? In contradiction to my belief, Foo (2004) noted that from a developers point of view, "if an activity is part of the game mechanic by design, then it would not be a grief tactic". However in my experience this is not true from the perspective of a player. What do you think?

So what makes a griefer? Do we classify them as people who go out of their way to cause problems? Do we include the people who just are problems?

In my opinion, intent and ignorance is irrelevent. Typically, most beginners can adapt to netiquitte. It would be a no brainer in the real world if a person engaged in activities that endangered others. Hence, my attempt at a more general definition is as follows:
"A player whom, outside an obvious and fair domain, intentionally or unintentionally develops a situation within which other players feel annoyed with the player or the other players become emotionally distressed."
My example, considers the following:
  • Players who are within an obvious context (who arn't cheating) arn't griefing - such as consentual PvP
  • Ignorance and intent don't matter - it still causes grief
  • If it creates grief, you are griefing
Forms of Grief

Grief is a creature of many faces and can strike anywhere! It is generally accepted among academics that there are currently four primary areas in which Griefing can occur. These include:
  • Harassment
  • Greed Play
  • Power Imposition
  • Scamming
Harassment
Princeton Wordnet defines harassment as "the act of tormenting by continued persistent attacks and criticism". How can this be applied to MMOs?
  • Sending slurs, or otherwise intentionally spamming, across a chat channel
  • Spatial Intrusion, otherwise known as stalking, where players are followed or tracked
  • Event disruption, where a group of players go to an organised event in order to disrupt it
  • Bating, abusing PvP area boundries using them as a safety buffer and teasing other players
Greed Play
This section is mysteriously empty.

Power Imposition
Demonstrations of power in themselves are not neccessarily considered to be griefing. However, "Power Imposition" is defined as players who maliciously use their power just for its own sake and to cause problems for other players. How do you feel about the following?
  • Repeat Killing (Rez Killing)
  • Beginner Killing
  • Training hostile creatures onto other players
  • Player blocking
  • Using hacks or exploiting broken mechanics to gain an unfair advantage (Perhaps outside the realm of griefing but could be considered a form).
Scamming
  • Caveat Emptor - Buyer beware: Trade Scams
__________________
Michael 'Adrir' Scott :: Games, Virtual Worlds, Education
Networking | Current Project | Research | Teaching

Last edited by Adrir : 08-28-2008 at 02:22 PM.
Adrir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2008, 04:44 AM   #2
Adrir
Administrator
 
Adrir's Avatar

Activity Longevity
1/20 20/20
Today Posts
0/11 sssss1466
Location: London, UK
Default

Sources

Foo, C. Y. 2004, 'Redefining Grief Play', in Other Players - conference on multiplayer phenomena, Copenhagen, December 6-8, 2004. (Clicky)

Foo, C. Y. & Koivisto, E. M. I. 2004, 'Defining Grief Play in MMORPGs: Player and Developer Perceptions', in 2004 ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in computer entertainment technology, Singapore, pp. 245-250. (Clicky)

Nick, Y. 2005, 'The Faces of Grief' [www] http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/arch...893.php?page=1 Accessed: 3rd March '07

Ending Notes

It is based off an article I wrote a while ago, however I would like to discuss and come up with a more complete definition and conclusion. It is intended as an open discussion for all members of the community to express their views and opinions about what "Grief" is. This can be within the context of the MMORPG genre or social gaming in general. Feel free to challenge any of this article's content; I would encourage those with a difference in opinion to post.
__________________
Michael 'Adrir' Scott :: Games, Virtual Worlds, Education
Networking | Current Project | Research | Teaching

Last edited by Adrir : 08-28-2008 at 04:46 AM.
Adrir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2008, 06:43 AM   #3
toyoka
Senior Member

Activity Longevity
0/20 18/20
Today Posts
0/11 ssssss193
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Default

I would say "Grief" is not just something that happens in the MMORPG world, it is part of it. Mostly due to the fact that in every game, there are many different types of players. Almost EVERY MMORPG out there is filled with at least one of every player, including the griefer. This includes, but is not limited to; Beggars (and Gold spammers/sellers), Addicts (nto to be confused with Hard Core players, who play intensively with skill), Casual players (skill is almost non-existent in these ones; the ones greifers pick on most of the time), and Hard Core players (not to be confused with Addicts, who play non-stop). The most notable grief-intensive MMORPG would be World of Warcraft, due to its massive database of players, there is no doubt that griefers will be running amuck. The majority of these griefers prefer classes where they cannot be seen doing their business (rogue/druid) over classes that they can be seen. Some, more brave than others, choose the latter choice of classes. Griefers will come in all types of forms whether they are chat-trolls, corpse-campers, or even simply annoying, immature, self-centered brats who will do anything in their gaming power to make your gaming experience a mess.
toyoka is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2008, 06:46 AM   #4
Kodiak
Senior Member

Activity Longevity
0/20 17/20
Today Posts
0/11 ssssss243
Location: Trenton, Ontario
Default

Is the definition of greed play empty because a greedy git took off with it?

Wikipedia has a definition which may add some additional nuance worth looking at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griefer

I am not a huge player of MMO, so I am definitely no authority on the matter. However, I believe that griefing is more the result of an intentional exploitation of a situation.

If an accident happens once where a player unintentionaly causes a 'grief-like' situation, typically everyone is left with a big question mark over their head and laugh about it. It's when the situation is used repetitively that Grief issues arise. I also think there's a degree of maliciousness involved in the action.

As a side note, your paper made me wonder: what do all the NPC critters that we hack and slash at think of us? We must be the worst griefers possible for them!

The last thought with respect to your definition is the use of "players feel griefed". Perhaps a little semantics here, but I would revise to indicate "players feel grieved". I don't believe that griefed is yet an actual 'official' word in the English language, but more importantly, you're using the term you're trying to define to define the same concept. As some of grieved's definitions are: "To cause to be sorrowful; distress: It grieves me to see you in such pain." or "Archaic To hurt or harm.", this would help refine your own definition.
Kodiak is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2008, 02:20 PM   #5
Adrir
Administrator
 
Adrir's Avatar

Activity Longevity
1/20 20/20
Today Posts
0/11 sssss1466
Location: London, UK
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by toyoka View Post
Beggars (and Gold spammers/sellers), Addicts (nto to be confused with Hard Core players, who play intensively with skill)
You make an interesting point with beggars and spammers that I seem to have overlooked in this essay. Although it is not directed at a specific individual, beggars are a form of harassment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kodiak View Post
The last thought with respect to your definition is the use of "players feel griefed". Perhaps a little semantics here, but I would revise to indicate "players feel grieved". I don't believe that griefed is yet an actual 'official' word in the English language, but more importantly, you're using the term you're trying to define to define the same concept. As some of grieved's definitions are: "To cause to be sorrowful; distress: It grieves me to see you in such pain." or "Archaic To hurt or harm.", this would help refine your own definition.
Another very interesting point which I have appeared to have overlooked. I'm suprised my spellcheck didn't detect that one. I think I will proberbly amend that for the moment, including both annoyance and emotional distress (to be generic) as mentioned above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kodiak View Post
Is the definition of greed play empty because a greedy git took off with it?
To be honest, I'm not sure why that is missing because I remember finishing writing this...this was proberbly just a near-final draft I found on my hard disk drive. As you may have noticed, it was originally based on the game Fallen Earth. I think I've removed most of the references that would seem out of context to most readers.
__________________
Michael 'Adrir' Scott :: Games, Virtual Worlds, Education
Networking | Current Project | Research | Teaching

Last edited by Adrir : 08-28-2008 at 02:32 PM.
Adrir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2008, 04:15 PM   #6
simonwest80
Junior Member

Activity Longevity
0/20 17/20
Today Posts
0/11 sssssss13
Location: London
Default

Very nice article, really enjoyed reading it and it bought up some interesting discussion points.

Some of the points have however been addressed - the famous Ignore button in WoW is fantastic, anyone being an ass no problem IGNORE, easy all sorted.

As for some of the other people you are talking about are they not just purely opportunists rather than griefers?? Ok it is annoying, but the same as in real life say in a concert, people "camp" places (usually because they are better informed than the so called griefees) buy tickets and sell at a profit. The same as anywhere the place will take your money they dont care money is money and sell out is sell out same as WoW (not too sure on other things).

And as far as ganking goes, again i dont enjoy being ganked and it pi$$es me off but then it is part of the game, part of the story. Yes it affects your game but maybe for 10mins maybe 30 mins it isnt the end of the world. This i dont think is grief just mild irritation. It also seems the games where your body and items can be looted have also gone, this i think is because of grief. Loosing that stuff like that does cause you to stop playing, and if this is the result this is true grief (Happened to me in EQ, my body fell thru a wall, i could not retrieve and the game master said tough).

So in conclusion i think grief is a point where you do not want to play the game any longer (rather than a point where you feel irritated for a short period of time), and it is impossible to take steps to remove the griefs.
simonwest80 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2008, 03:22 PM   #7
Adrir
Administrator
 
Adrir's Avatar

Activity Longevity
1/20 20/20
Today Posts
0/11 sssss1466
Location: London, UK
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by simonwest80 View Post
And as far as ganking goes, again i dont enjoy being ganked and it pi$$es me off but then it is part of the game, part of the story. Yes it affects your game but maybe for 10mins maybe 30 mins it isnt the end of the world.
There are many players with a limited playtime length. They just want to have fun and relax. I believe that this will distress and alienate them. Business models depending on income from subscriptions would likely suffer from a high rate of turnover due to a low retention rate in subscribers caused by poor in-game experiences.

Specifically, while death penalty and punishment systems are considered less hardcore when they are dimmed down, I believe that most systems can be adapted to increase player satisfaction. Guild Wars for example, doesn't have any major issues with ganking except on the structured PvP scene; except in well coordinated guild battles that involve tactics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by simonwest80 View Post
It is impossible to take steps to remove the griefs.
Personally, I am inclined to disagree. While a game cannot truely shape the community or affect the way in which people behave, there are systems that can minimise and eliminate various forms of grief.
__________________
Michael 'Adrir' Scott :: Games, Virtual Worlds, Education
Networking | Current Project | Research | Teaching
Adrir is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:00 AM.






UBM Tech