Monday, August 23, 2010

Motivated Grief

Welcome to the sixteenth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

With the recent completion of the 3rd installment of the Hulkageddon last month, @CyberinEVE, author of Hands Off, My Loots!, asks: “Griefing is a very big part of EVE. Ninja Salvaging, Suicide Ganking, Trolling, and Scamming are all a very large part of the game. What do you think about all these things? You can talk about one, or all…but just let us know your overall opinion on Griefing, and any recommendations you may have to change it if you think it’s needed.”

I don't understand how making someone else feel bad creates pleasure for an individual.  It must increase one's sense of personal power.  I can't say that video game "tears" provide any energy for myself, but I imagine it is like kids in elementary school making fun of the dumb kid or the fat kid to make themselves feel better about their existential experience.  

I certainly enjoy the pleasure of shooting a red in nullsec.  I completely understand the lure of piracy, ninja-ing, and suicide ganking as entertaining gameplay, but these pastimes don't strike me as griefing.  EVE is based on competition and economic scarcity, blowing up ships and being at risk of gank at all times adds to the drama and in-game dynamic tension.  We kill each other in EVE because it is really fun, even when you get on the wrong side of a Pandemic Legion death fleet!   We also kill to make ISK, which is also completely legit in my book.  Specifically trying to hurt someone's feelings to create pleasure is lame and betrays psychopathological motivations.  It comes down to the Ego.  What drives your pleasure shows your character.

This question dips into interesting territory as our culture moves more into virtual experience as a social phenomenon.  We have all heard "I am just role playing a griefer, you are just too X-Y-Z to get it."  Being able to dip into the taboo or dark side experience could be very useful for self-definition.  It could also be corruptive.  Who am I? (in game?)  What gives me pleasure? (in game?)  How will I achieve my objectives? (in game?)

Do these virtual choices affect "Real Life?"  Does playing a psychopath in a game lead to antisocial behaviors?  Is there a difference between shooting virtual creatures in Halo and "griefing" conscious individuals for fun in EVE in the impact on one's conscience, empathy, and character?  Maybe it is all "lolz" and I am wasting neurons asking these questions!

For my EVE experience, it all boils down to the fact that there are plenty of antisocial predators in real life.  Having New Eden chock full of griefers just makes EVE that much more realistic, dark, and entertaining.  At the same time, I prefer to surround myself with fun loving, light-hearted, silly individuals.  I also make a point of only trusting pilots I know in real life!

I think motivation separates griefing from gameplay in EVE.  If you are ganking or ninja-ing to make ISK, good for you!  If you experience elation when your team "wins" the battle, you are experiencing the same feeling sportsmen have enjoyed since the ancient Olympians.  If you are getting a charge from ruining someone's day, you are lame and a griefer.  You can gank someone and still be a good sport.   It is a game and it is fun to compete in this way.  If you are trying to hurt someone's feelings just for your sadistic pleasure, I hope it is useful on your personal journey.

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