May 7, 2011

[The Psychology of Griefing]

  On Massively's Soapbox column, Jef Reahard tries to analyze why people grief, and what indulging in a constant habit of asshatery in games reveal about their 'real' selves: there is no imaginary line between 'IRL' and 'the game' -- you are not magically a 'nice guy' in real life, because in 'real life' you are an asshole to random people on the internet for your own amusement. The very fact that doing that is your preferred means of online enjoyment makes your assholery completely real:
"I've met griefers who consider themselves well-adjusted folks in other parts of their lives, gamers who have fallen into the trap of separating game behavior from "real-world" behavior. The reality, though, is that if you're a bleep in an online game -- and it's a recurring thing -- you're a bleep, period. You're not a part-time bleep, or a bleep on the weekends, or a bleep after the wife and kids are safely bedded down. You're simply a bleep. Regardless of whether certain game mechanics enable your bleephead behavior, the choice to actively make another person unhappy is in fact a choice, and it's yours alone. You don't get to rationalize or compartmentalize it. It simply is what it is, and you are what you are."
  If your main pastime is being a sadistic jerk to people on the internet, how can you honestly believe you are not 'really' a sadistic jerk? Last I checked, 'real life' includes sitting in front of a computer an interacting with others. Interacting with people through games in this way IS what you're doing 'IRL'. There is no magical line that makes what you do to other people in a game less 'real' than anything else you happen to do in your life, and it defines who you are just as much as any face-to-face interaction.


Jan said...

Aren't they just life's pathetic losers who lack the courage to live a full and decent life?

Pai said...

In online games, there is this strange thing where many of these people will deny their behavior actually reflects on themselves in any way because 'it's just a game'. Personally, I've never bought that excuse.