MMO Griefers: Internet Haters' Evolution and Analysis
Date: 11-06-2009 Views:
KeyWords: MMO,Griefers,WOW,make love not warcraft,4chan
- Summary: Nowadays, online games are absolutely a public cyberspace where anarchists, egotists, pragmatists, nihilists, pacifists, environmentalists and others show off themselves thoroughly and carry out various behaviors they dare not to do in the real life.
An Analysis on the MMO Griefers’ Psychology
Why do some players act like that? What's going on inside the minds of griefers? Yulan Liao, M.D., a psychiatrist at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center provided some interesting possibilities beyond the most-accepted explanation for griefers. According to Dr. Liao, griefers could frequently fall into two potential roles: the defiant leader and the scapegoat leader. (In this case, the term "leader" does not refer to the head of a group.)
Dr. Liao explains that the defiant leader is sometimes with the group, but sometimes has one foot out. He's not sure if his objective should align with the group's objective, so he refuses to stay committed to the group. But there is also a scapegoat leader. This is generally a person everyone dislikes. These people are marginalized and ostracized and failure to conform with the group often leads to scapegoat status. Not only does the group choose the scapegoat, but the scapegoat often unconsciously chooses to take on the role. The two kinds of roles are likely to do disruptive actions in the online games. But it's also possible that a smaller percentage of griefers may have more serious psychological disorders. Keep in mind that a diagnosis of mental illness is made only when a disorder or problem causes significant impairment in functioning. Some of these disorders are common; others, much more rare.
Antisocial personality disorder: "These are people whose pulse would remain constant if there was a bomb threat," Dr. Liao says. "They lack empathy. It's hard for them to picture how their actions would have consequences. They can be an outwardly charming. They don't obey rules. They are likely to go online to vent frustrations with little regard for how it affects other people. This disorder is not all that common, but a narcissist, a less extreme version, is more common."
Impulse control problems: This dysfunction makes it difficult to resist urges. Dr. Liao says. "They feel a lot of tension leading to a particular action. When they finally fulfill the impulse, they experience a release of tension and a sense of pleasure." An example of an impulse control disorder is intermittent explosive disorder. "People with this disorder may experience rage attacks and could become destructive. In an online game it is hard to read the intention behind various actions which means these people can misinterpret things as attacks upon them and respond angrily."
Depression: "Depression is surprisingly common amongst Americans," Dr. Liao explains. If people are depressed, "they are generally more irritable and isolated, and their frustration threshold is a lot lower." What's more, depressed individuals are more likely to interpret a neutral act as a direct insult to them. They can be quick to misinterpret events and quick to retaliate. Dr. Liao also proposes that by griefing in an online setting, depressed individuals may be trying to goad others into killing them - a sort of "virtual suicide."
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): This can be caused by any kind of trauma, but is frequently found in combat veterans. Generally they are hyper vigilant, meaning they are at an elevated level of awareness when it comes to potential threats. Combined with anger issues or impulse control problems, it could lead to griefing behavior.
Psychotic disorders: This less-common dysfunction included people with paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. "Psychotic people may experience what is known as 'idea of reference'," Dr. Liao explains. "For example, they are watching the television and think that the people are talking about them." A player with a persecutory delusion could perceive other players as enemies out to get him.
Dr. Liao suggests that reacting negatively toward griefers only reinforces their role as scapegoat or defiant leader. "It is possible to de-scapegoat the person by bringing them back into the group, which can change their destructive behavior." Try responding to griefers with compassion -- or at least patience -- and see what happens. You may be surprised.