The RPS Electronic Wireless Show Episode 18

By John Walker on May 7th, 2009 at 6:30 pm.

PODDDDDDDDDDDDDDCAST

Why hello there fancy lady and/or gentleman. We’re very glad you came, as we believe what we have for you is of great interest. Believed to be the eighteenth podcast from the legendary Rock, Paper, Shotgun website, this audio recording is filled with wits and charms of the like unknown since the Mighty Cataclysm Of 2042. Upon listening your eyes shall be filled with discussions of Plants Vs. Zombies, a smattering of Braid, discussion of Velvet Assassin, and the demise of 3D Realms.

Responding to the enquiring minds of the tweeting throngs, Jim and John answer queries as to which is our favourite PvZ plant, our thoughts on the switcheroo between writing about games and making them, the peculiarity of the Morphine Mode in Velvet Assassin, and our superhero fantasies. There’s also brief discussion of Braid, the nature of griefing and whether it’s ever a good thing, and of course some thoughts on the passing of 3D Realms, leading into the utterly UNTRUE Chair Story. Which is untrue. Not joking – it’s a made up lie. And for some reason we end up discussing pretty doctors.

So get the mp3 directly from here, visit its own site here, subscribe to it by RSS with this, or get it on iTunes from here.

Apologies for the quietness. For no understandable reason it decided to be super-crazy-faint this time, and I’ve boosted it as far as it will go without turning us into angry robots.

To read the UNTRUE Chair Story, go here. The author has posted on the 3D Realms forums (broken all day) that it was fiction, but it’s still an interesting peculiarity.

For the Time Most Influential debacle, the original article is here. To see the Top 100, including the top 21 spelling out “MARBLE CAKE ALSO THE GAME” with the first initials of each name, go here. And there’s a short article about all that here.

While I’m linking to griefing matters, this article from Wired is fantastic, and this astonishingly comprehensive and in-depth piece from the New York Times is one of the most superb pieces of journalism I’ve seen.

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35 Comments »

  1. Gap Gen says:

    Thanks to Captain Bassoon: http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/9592/odd.jpg

    (feel free to remove if this violates fair use)

  2. Stella Q says:

    Wow British people are so adorable

  3. Dominic White says:

    Those griefing articles – especially the second one, about trolls bleeding into ‘real life’ make my heart sink. Even with lengthy interviews and psychological examination, I can’t even begin to comprehend why these people do these things.

    Maybe I’ve just got too much empathy. I can’t see someone trip over in the street without wincing and wanting to help them up and see if they’re okay.

    I just don’t understand hate.

  4. Zyrusticae says:

    Those griefing articles – especially the second one, about trolls bleeding into ‘real life’ make my heart sink. Even with lengthy interviews and psychological examination, I can’t even begin to comprehend why these people do these things.

    Likewise. I find it utterly incomprehensible. I would never, ever find it fun to do something like that. It’s just beyond me.

    Even worse is the implications that they all believe that the internet should not and can never be used for anything resembling “serious business”. Considering how much it’s grown over the years as a medium for instantaneous communication across the globe, that’s utterly absurd. It’s like they want nothing less than the internet to become a great big giant pile of shit, with no merit to it other than cheap, worthless laughs. What?

  5. YouAteMyCheeto says:

    John, thank you very much for linking that Times article. That was fascinating and terrifying.

    It makes me to want become an ascetic and live in the woods. The idea that if you piss of the troll community they can do whatever they want to you is chilling.

  6. Gassalasca says:

    Well, never troll/grief mostly because I find it a bit childish and a wast of my time. But I find it sad that there are people who genuinely can’t comprehend why they do it. It’s like saying you don’t understand why your kid would take some melted chocolate and paint your kitchen brown. If that’s really the case, I think an important part of you has died.
    Now excuse me while have some warm milk and listen to these two lovely Englishmen.

  7. Bobsy says:

    Portal has a timed puzzle with possible death, not a boss battle.

  8. DMcCool says:

    @ Zyrusticae

    It’s like they want nothing less than the internet to become a great big giant pile of shit, with no merit to it other than cheap, worthless laughs. What?

    As ridiculous as these people are, I think that is misrepresenting them somewhat. There definately is at least a minority that thinks like that, but that is pretty much the oppesite of the philosophy of, say, Fortuny the main character in that article. The idea behind trolling like that is to basically educate people on the way you people should use the internet. That is, take proper precautions, not put so much emotional comitment into the net, basically to get their head around the fact that things work differently on the net than in real life, and the vast majority of people are very, very naive on these matters. I for one can empathise with that, I for one don’t think Fortuny went too far. The other one did seem abit of an immature mentalist, mind.

  9. Zyrusticae says:

    Well, I only finished reading the first linked article. Getting around the the second one now.

    But I can see the point. Maybe I don’t agree with it, but I can see the point. (Then again, I’ve been around on the ‘nets for years, so I have the benefit of experience…).

  10. Dominic White says:

    @Gassalasca

    I find it sad that there are people who genuinely can’t comprehend why they do it. It’s like saying you don’t understand why your kid would take some melted chocolate and paint your kitchen brown. If that’s really the case, I think an important part of you has died.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still see the fun in playing ridiculous pranks, but they generally don’t involve people getting hurt and/or emotionally scarred. Threatening to rape and murder someone, and proving that you know who they are and where they live is so far detached from childish playfulness that I cannot believe that anyone could draw comparisons.

    I mean, hell, I’ve been known to goof around on Second Life. I won’t do anything assholish like try to crash regions or harrass folks, but I’m all for going from region to region with a group on a Pokemon safari, trying to capture random people in balls and ordering them to fight their friends. That’s creative and generally inoffensive (and people are more likely to play along or just laugh, which is even more fun). Playing incredibly loud obnoxious sounds, screaming insults, trying to crash systems and spamming gore/grossout pics is being an arsehole.

    I genuinely cannot comprehend how anyone could derive pleasure from another persons suffering. Apparently this makes me too soft for the internet or something.

    Being childish and dumb can be fun, but if someone gets genuinely upset, then I feel bad about it. That’s what empathy is.

  11. Nick says:

    Or stop trying to excuse being a complete dickhead to people as anything other than what it is: being a complete dickhead to people. That saving them from themselves life lesson noble crap is just as much rubbish as ‘oh I’m pirating it to teach them a lesson for harsh DRM!’.

    If you are going to treat people like shit at least be honest about it: you get a kick out of it, that’s why you do it. You can’t do it in real life because you are too scared to face the consequences, whatever they may be.

  12. Zyrusticae says:

    It just struck me that anyone who believes in that sort of philosophy is an extreme misanthropist.

    I mean, in order for us to have a reason to gird our loins for battle, so to speak, there has to be someone out there in the first place who wants to attack. These people believe that it is inevitable, that people will always be assholes and that they will always attack you at every chance they get.

    In other words, they fulfill their own misanthropist prophecies by playing the role of the asshole.

  13. Bobsy says:

    Oh look, I caused a podcast to stop. I think this is a victory of sorts.

    EDIT: And you forgot the jingle again, sillies.

  14. Gassalasca says:

    @Dominic – I see what you’re saying. I suppose it’s a thin line between dropping water baloons on the fat kid next door on one hand, and torturing neighbours’ cats on the other.

    Not that I’ve done either, mind you. I was inside playing Rock’n'Roll Racing.

  15. Rich says:

    I wouldn’t even call it a thin line, Gassalasca. There’s an obvious difference between rickrolling, posting goatse, and dropping flashbangs on your own team in Counter-Strike and making targeted death threats or harassing a kid’s parents. Or using craigslist to get strangers to vandalize someone’s property.

    Part of the problem is that personal information is easy to find online, because people are freely giving it away or governments/businesses are doing a poor job of protecting it, or both.

    Not all trolling, defined broadly, is outright malicious and personally destructive. I’ve been had by elaborate posts that tell a dramatic story only to end with the “Fresh Prince” theme. I’ve been rickrolled a few times. During one round of TFC a few years ago, one of my teammates followed me around the whole round and whacked me with a crowbar. One of my guildmates in UO was a total ass: his in-game character would gank and steal from other characters, which, as far as I know, was perfectly within the game’s rules.

  16. Neut says:

    John: You’re a rubbish loser!

  17. Dominic White says:

    I think a lot of the problem with griefers – as covered in the podcast – is that a lot of them just go for the most obviously offensive and obscene way of offending people, because it’s sure to work and tickles that horrid little bit of reptilian hind-brain that wants to hurt people before they can hurt you.

    But if you can make someone flip the hell out by doing something utterly inoffensive (such as stripping down to your undies in World of Warcraft and silently walk behind them), then that’s funny. You’re not hurting them, you’re not offending them, and if they manage to twist themselves into a ball of nerves, that’s entirely a demon of their own creation.

    There was a video a while back of some clever git who’d block the spawn room exit in Team Fortress 2, and would only let out players who correctly answered trivia questions. Almost everyone just played along with it, because it might have been messing with the game, but it was funny and original.

    That’s the kind of stuff I’d like to see more of, and less personal harrassment and randomly screaming racial epithets at strangers.

  18. Gap Gen says:

    It’s a shame that the message of trolling should be “build walled gardens so that you can kick the riff-raff out.” I don’t think there’s any benefit to the existence of trolling – other than stating that some people are dicks. And that’s a very self-fulfilling, pointless role. (That is, unless it’s particularly clever or funny, in which case it almost becomes performance art.)

  19. Jockie says:

    It’s all well and good spouting cod philosophy about societal foibles to try and justify being a total dick. But at the end of the day, you’re still a total dick.

    Giving someone an epileptic seizure so they learn how to protect themselves better is like shooting someone with a gun, so they can learn to dodge bullets.

    Good article, but I think it tries to intellectualise griefing beyond what it is – kids doing pranks and engaging in widespread one-up-manship.

  20. Klaus says:

    That’s the first time I’ve seen Weev, lol.

    I troll because I find it funny, and no I wouldn’t do it in real life for a variety of reasons, people being crazy is number one. I got into trolling because trolls can seemingly enjoy any humor. It feels like a much more enriching experience, and pretending to be a good, moral, empathetic person is a lot of work.

    I believe those people would be out doing something actually good, instead of drawing furry porn, creating bestiality on second life, uploading anime amv’s to youtube and counting their pagevews on deviantart. And they spend an inordinate amount of time accomplishing these things.

    In short – I usually think the victims are worse than the trolls. Not that this is a justification, it’s more a benefit.

    EDIT:
    “Giving someone an epileptic seizure so they learn how to protect themselves better is like shooting someone with a gun, so they can learn to dodge bullets.”
    Never liked this one myself.

    “Good article, but I think it tries to intellectualise griefing beyond what it is – kids doing pranks and engaging in widespread one-up-manship.”
    I pretty much agree.

  21. Zyrusticae says:

    Now, see, I never really got that sense of superiority over what someone else does with their free time.

    It’s like there’s some kind of social hierarchy created by what you find pleasurable in life – but these are the kinds of things that would normally be “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, except for some reason some people just want to seek out these people so they can proclaim themselves superior for, um, doing what, exactly?

    Beyond that, I see nothing inherently wrong with what they’re doing. Maybe you see it as a waste of time, but frankly there’s many, many other things you could be doing that are just as much of a waste of time (such as going out and drinking, doing drugs, watching TV, movies, etc., etc.). They’re not performing criminal acts and they’re most certainly not being assholes, so why bother? Not even like you can get them to STOP DOING IT unless you are an extremely skilled troll.

    Also… good grief. Pretending to be a “good, moral, empathetic” person? You mean you can’t do that for real? Talk about misanthropy…

  22. Klaus says:

    I don’t actually care about what they do in their spare time, as long as they don’t laud that ‘good person’ nonsense to me.

    Obviously I read too many fantasy stories; Good people actually spend their free time doing acts of good. They don’t spend it extolling what a good person they are to others or doing the things I described before in a frequent manner.

    I consider people in general to be decent, nice and so on. I just don’t consider ‘nice’ to be a synonym of good, moral, or empathetic, and I think it takes effort to be any of those things.

    I typically admire and appreciate those people, as I am not willing to expend that effort.

  23. Skye Nathaniel says:

    Would someone be so kind please as to post a link to the article that describes single-player games as “texts”? I have long thought it absurd for games to aspire to provide both single- and multiplayer experiences, and I think that I will find much to agree with and think on within such a treatment.

  24. Zyrusticae says:

    @Klaus

    Ah, so you mean “holier-than-thou”-ists. That’s a different fish altogether, I think.

    Even then, however, I don’t think doing those sorts of things and doing good work are mutually exclusive. Perhaps hard to imagine someone doing good and participating in such things, sure, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

    That said, I extend no sympathy to those who proclaim themselves to be “good people”. That’s… kind of up to society, isn’t it?

  25. Radiant says:

    Intellectualising trolling…
    On the one hand I’m happy my time machine works but on the other it really couldn’t pick a date other then 2002?

  26. Radiant says:

    Just so we’re clear; reminiscing about griefing in counterstrike [who still plays that?] is a sure indicator that trolling is so fucking passé.

  27. Zyrxil says:

    counterstrike [who still plays that?]

    If you’re not being sarcastic, only 150,000 people a day, easily trumping Left4Dead and Team Fortress 2 combined:
    http://store.steampowered.com/stats/

    Peak Today Game
    90,252 Counter-Strike: Source
    69,092 Counter-Strike

  28. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    @Radiant: Apparently a lot of people. A lot.

    There are kids half my age who live by it.

    EDIT: Oh, hey, Zyrxil beat me to it.

  29. Radiant says:

    Yes but the other 6 billion people in the world have all moved on.
    [I'm being dismissive; I apologise cs'ers!]
    My point still standing is that trolling and talking about trolling as if it’s some dark magic of the internet has gotten so clichéd it’s boring.
    It’s like talking about 9/11 conspiracies or making Bill Clinton jokes.

  30. Ian says:

    I just can’t relate to the people who are going out of their way to ruin somebody else’s gaming experience. There’s doing stuff you think is a hilarious prank and wrongly thinking others will too, that’s a bit different.

    I dunno… I’ve read about this before and people claiming they’re trying to push boundaries, play outside the game, and generally back-pedal and try to justify the fact that they get kicks out of ensuring others don’t get theirs.

    So is there a reason I’ve missed that griefing is the topic of the week? Because it’s this week’s theme on The Escapist too.

  31. Gap Gen says:

    “I got into trolling because trolls can seemingly enjoy any humor.”

    Doesn’t mean they’re right. After all, presumably some people found Meet the Spartans funny.

  32. A:\Big.bat says:

    Wow, I don’t recall actually asking a question but apparently I did! And using my real name? How bizarre.

  33. MetalCircus says:

    Tbe New York Times article is so fucking hyperbolic it’s untrue. A large slab of internet trolls are just 12 year olds stirring up pointless arguments, not global terrorists capable of ruining your life. There are “serious” trolls out there but you shouldn’t let yourself be ruled by them.

    As for why they do it, well, psychology can tell us that.

  34. mister k says:

    I got annoyed at exactly the same point in Braid and never got the full game because of it. Then again, I still haven’t got round to getting world of goo, which makes me a horrible person.

  35. Mike says:

    I still find that NYT article cringeworthy. They might as well start deconstructing the mentality of a lolcat writer.