Griefers and Online Games

Thanks to David Edery, I learned about an article on Gamasutra about fixing online gaming idiocy.

Bill Fulton wrote about the problems with griefers as well as people who are just plain rude.

Why do I care? Some gamers might be thinking “If he’s so thin-skinned that he can’t take the online banter, maybe he shouldn’t play online.” Unfortunately, many people do just that — they stop playing online.

Because the online behavior of our customers is dramatically reducing our sales, and continues to stunt the growth of our industry. Non-gamers simply don’t love games enough to put up with the crap they get online. The reason they would consider playing online is to have fun with other people — and right now, playing games online with strangers rarely delivers that for anyone outside the hardcore demographic.

If you’re not familiar with griefers, read Wired’s Mutilated Furries, Flying Phalluses: Put the Blame on Griefers, the Sociopaths of the Virtual World, as well as The Escapist’s 19th issue, Griefer Nation.

If you are familiar with griefers or at least the problems they can cause your online game, you might wonder what can be done about it. You don’t even need to have an MMO to deal with such issues. If your game includes a high score list that automatically gets published to a website, you may find your list the victim of griefers. A recent posting on PuppyGames.net puts future troublemakers on notice:

Now hear this: the online hiscores table is viewed by children and we’re really not going to accept any more of this stuff any longer. You will find yourself banned permanently (and all of your hiscores deleted permanently too) if you abuse the facility.

Fulton argued that yes, it is possible to solve this problem by designing the social environment and culture. He talked about changes that were made to Shadowrun to discourage griefing, and I think it is an encouraging article.

[tags] video games, business, griefing, game development, game design [/tags]

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