Growing up playing football in the street, if someone was being a jerk, we would just not invite them back to play, or take our ball and go home. If the situation became escalated, there was always the threat of a punch to the nose to calm people down. These days playing games online you do not always have that option. Sure, you can disconnect from the game, or limit your gameplay to only people on your friend list, etc. But you still may run into the occasional loud mouth jerk.
In gaming circles, we call these loud mouth jerks by a specific name. “Griefer“. Though there is the much simpler (and slightly modified by me) definition from the team at Penny-Arcade. “Griefer” = Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience. Obviously this is an exaggeration, and the vast majority of gamers are not griefers. But even the most level headed person can sometimes get angry and “rage-quit” when they are losing, or just vent their tough day to the Internet.
In a growing number of games and services, you can mute or ‘squelch’ annoying players so you don’t have to listen to them spewing venom. In many games, you can also report players for inappropriate or abusive behavior, but that is typically only allowed after a match is completed. So you may have to put up with them for an entire round of game play.
I heartily applaud these measures to limit griefing along with many others. Including these additional recommendations from the team at Extra Credits.
On the flip side are initiatives like the “Honor System” in League of Legends. At the end of a round, you acknowledge your teammates and opponents in terms of being Friendly, Helpful, showing Teamwork, and being an Honorable Opponent. With the goal to build up badges over time, and incentivize good behavior among the community.
On the surface, it is almost odd that there is so much harassment out there. Games are about inclusion, building relationships, and joy. Intentionally harassing or hurting someone else should not be a part of gaming. We need to reject the so-called ‘culture of griefing’ and teach our students, our kids, and ourselves that good sportsmanship applies to all areas of competition.
Even if we will not get punched in the nose for being a jerk.