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What is a Griefer?

A griefer is someone who takes pleasure in creating disruption in online games, often ruining the experience for others. They thrive on the chaos they cause, seeking attention or simply enjoying the power trip. Their tactics can range from minor pranks to serious harassment. Ever wondered how to handle such a disruptor effectively? Discover strategies to safeguard your gaming sessions ahead.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A griefer is an online gamer who participates in games with the sole goal of disrupting the gaming experience for others. Griefers and their actions can take a wide variety of forms, and they are a source of frustration for many legitimate gamers. In response, many administrators attempt to ban or otherwise penalize griefers whenever possible, so that they do not ruin the fun for others. On occasion, the term “griefer” is also used to describe disruptive individuals in the real world.

While some people use the term “griefer” more generically to describe anyone who causes grief or disruption in an online game, most people use the term specifically to refer to people who do so deliberately, taking pleasure from their actions and consequences. A griefer establishes a gaming account and a character with the sole purpose of creating chaos, rather than occasionally or unintentionally causing disruption. This distinction is meant to separate people with aggressive game styles who genuinely enjoy playing the game and interacting with others from griefers.

A griefer is an online gamer who participates in games with the sole goal of disrupting the gaming experience for others.
A griefer is an online gamer who participates in games with the sole goal of disrupting the gaming experience for others.

Griefers use a variety of tricks to irritate people. Many of them exploit certain traits of the game, taking advantage of loopholes to harass other characters. They commonly leave graffiti in game, in games where people can modify the environment, and they may insult, stalk, or harass other users. Griefers also steal goods from other gamers, attempt to get other characters killed, or violate the basic ethics of the game to achieve their desired goal of chaos.

Griefers don't have to face the consequences of seeing how their actions affect people.
Griefers don't have to face the consequences of seeing how their actions affect people.

Essentially, a griefer is a form of vandal, and while in some cases griefers may have a legitimate reason to be angry, most of them are simply using the game as a venue for torment. Griefers come from a wide range of classes, age groups, and cultural backgrounds; the thing they have in common is a taste for wanton destruction. Some are also very technically skilled, which can make it difficult to identify and stop a griefer.

Griefers make it a habit to spread defamatory rumors about others.
Griefers make it a habit to spread defamatory rumors about others.

For legitimate gamers, the best thing to do is ignore griefers, as they want to get a rise out of other people in the game. If a griefer is routinely harassing a particular gamer or group of gamers, the griefer should be reported to game administrators, who can take action. Some gaming sites also allow people to create private areas with restricted access; these private areas can be used to take a respite from griefers, with friends and allies being invited in to create a safe environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a griefer and how do they impact online gaming communities?

In some circumstances, griefers can cause serious emotional suffering for their victims.
In some circumstances, griefers can cause serious emotional suffering for their victims.

A griefer is a player in an online gaming community who deliberately irritates and harasses other players, often using aspects of the game in unintended ways. Their impact is significant; they can disrupt the gaming experience, causing frustration and potentially driving players away from the game. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 40% of adult internet users have personally experienced online harassment, which includes activities often associated with griefing.

Can griefers be found in any type of online game?

Yes, griefers can be found in virtually any type of online game, especially those with multiplayer components that allow for player interaction. However, they are more prevalent in games with open worlds and fewer structured rules, such as sandbox games or massive multiplayer online games (MMOs), where there are more opportunities to affect other players' experiences.

What motivates a griefer to disrupt online games?

Griefers are motivated by a variety of factors, including the desire for attention, the enjoyment of causing distress to others, or simply the thrill of breaking the rules. According to researchers at Nottingham Trent University, some griefers are driven by a sense of power and control over other players, which can be a reflection of their offline personalities.

How do online gaming communities and developers combat griefing?

Online gaming communities and developers combat griefing through a combination of moderation, reporting systems, and community management. Developers may implement features that limit the potential for griefing, such as player blocking or private game sessions. Community guidelines and codes of conduct are enforced by moderators who can issue warnings or bans to offenders. Additionally, peer reporting allows players to flag disruptive behavior directly.

Are there any legal consequences for griefers?

In extreme cases, griefing can lead to legal consequences, especially if it crosses into the territory of cyberbullying or harassment. Laws vary by country, but some jurisdictions may prosecute persistent harassment online. For example, in the United States, federal law addresses cyberstalking, which can encompass severe forms of griefing, under 18 U.S. Code § 2261A. However, most instances of griefing are handled within the gaming platforms themselves rather than through legal channels.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon282263

Essentially, a griefer is just a jerk whose parents never really corrected their behavior as children. ADHD and excuses made by the parent on their behalf is simply ex post facto justification of the parents' failure to raise a respectable and productive member of society.

I love the spin thrown on it there. Because I was such a failure as a parent, my child if far better equipped to do things that other people loathe. Whatever. He can help it. Just like "Bipolar" people can't control their behavior. Sure they can, but why should they? People just go "oh... he/she is bipolar, I understand." Bipolar is just a medically sanctioned excuse to act like a jerk all the time too. It rates right up there with ADHD, as medical excuses for immature behavior go.

Sad, really.

anon133556

I've been told my son is a griefer, which is why I've come to find out what it means.

It doesn't surprise me. He has always been ADHD and creates chaos wherever he goes. When everyone else is yelling and screaming at him, he feels calm and in control. I believe it is because the neurons in his brain don't fire sufficiently unless he is surrounded by chaos, so he seeks to create it.

He tends towards highly stressful jobs and situations other people loathe. So ignore him, and don't waste your energy getting mad, believe me, he can't help it.

The world needs people like him - who else would catch the tiger by the tail? Many of our top politicians, business executives and famous people have this problem, which is why they are so successful yet get into so much strife in their personal life.

anon28398

You could advise griefers to find counseling which would allow them to enjoy life without hurting other people.

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    • A griefer is an online gamer who participates in games with the sole goal of disrupting the gaming experience for others.
      By: iriska
      A griefer is an online gamer who participates in games with the sole goal of disrupting the gaming experience for others.
    • Griefers don't have to face the consequences of seeing how their actions affect people.
      By: amyinlondon
      Griefers don't have to face the consequences of seeing how their actions affect people.
    • Griefers make it a habit to spread defamatory rumors about others.
      By: Wrangler
      Griefers make it a habit to spread defamatory rumors about others.
    • In some circumstances, griefers can cause serious emotional suffering for their victims.
      By: Photographee.eu
      In some circumstances, griefers can cause serious emotional suffering for their victims.