The Injustice Engine: Cruelty And Murder In DayZ

By Brendan Caldwell on February 17th, 2014 at 9:00 pm.

The first man I murdered probably deserved it. But not this guy. The only thing this guy had done wrong was wander into Berezino with some water, a compass and a rifle (without ammo). It was just his luck that we were there too, looking for baked beans amid the inexplicable piles of shoes which amass inside every townhouse of DayZ. We saw him go into one of the two apartment blocks that loom like huge, Gray tombstones over the city. I followed him inside, calling out: “Hello, anyone here? Friendly!”

By the time I got to the roof, we had exchanged a few words, calling out to each other with reassurances. I looked down and saw him back out on the street in front of the building.

“Hey buddy, look up, up here.”

I waved and he asked me how I did that. I told him the button to press to wave (F1) but I had to wonder. Was he new to the game? Or was he just pretending to be new to the game? On the roof of the other apartment building I saw another man. A dark figure against the overcast sky. He had a gas mask, a helmet and a rifle (with ammo). It was my friend Alex.

I went down to the street and said hello to my new buddy. He said, yes, he was new to this. Did he need anything? He didn’t think so. Did he have any water? Yes, he said. He had water.

“Bring him out into the open,” said Alex, over Skype – our own little earpiece radio.

I walked a little further up the road. My new friend followed me and asked if I needed the water. I said yes, and he held the bottle up to my lips, feeding me like a child.

“Thank you,” I said to my new friend – and to Alex: “Take the shot.”

He went down in a glitchy fountain of blood. For a second I checked myself, worried I’d been hit as well by accident. But no, I was okay. I crouched down and ransacked his body for anything that hadn’t been ruined by the bullet or the bleeding. He didn’t have much. I took his gun, his backpack. He had been carrying around a book – the Picture of Dorian Gray. Every veteran of DayZ knows books are functionally pointless. All they do is take up space in your inventory. So that’s how I knew for certain. This guy was new to the game.

Well, at least I taught him how to wave.

*

“Friendly” is a word you hear a lot in Chernarus (the 85 square miles of DayZ’s map). It’s the kind of word that makes your gut reel up, like the retractable cord of a vacuum cleaner, because it means that another human is nearby and who knows what the hell they want. Nobody understood the paradox of this word better than Richie. Richie was a cohort of Alex and mine, who had once been moved to call out the magic word to a fellow survivor, all the while spraying him full of bullets. “Friendly!” he cried, emptying his clip into the man. “Friendly!” I don’t know if Richie had shouted it out of panic or malice. I didn’t ask.

Death costs you everything in DayZ, and this approach works to heighten the tension of even the most minor encounters. (Spotting an armed character running down the road, leaping into the bushes to hide, and sweating as they stroll past). There is a punishingly high state of perpetual risk here and it only increases the longer you live, giving that little bit more meaning – for want of a better word – to every death.

Take Richie. Richie was always getting into trouble. A few days after we’d killed the bookworm with Dorian Gray, we ran into another survivor – a bambi who put his fists up.

We found him running up the beach outside Nizhnoye – a squalid gathering of shacks filled with nothing but rotting fruit and soiled t-shirts. He had nothing. Only the trademark flashlight and alkaline battery that every new player looked at with baby-faced confusion. We didn’t want the flashlight, or the battery. By this time in our DayZ careers (about 40 hours for me) we had bags full of stuff. Beans, bullets and bandages. The only thing we were looking for was trouble. A ‘bambi’ to torture.

We found our quarry, outside Nizhnoye, and when Richie told him to put his hands up, he put his fists up instead and started swinging digs, lurching for Richie’s head. I didn’t like this bambi‘s manners. So I put a bullet in his kidney. Richie was sad. We didn’t wave to kill him. A day later Richie would slip from the upper deck of a wrecked cargo ship and die from the fall. Me and my trigger finger – we lived on. This is when I realised what DayZ is. DayZ is an injustice engine.

It isn’t that DayZ is a catalyst for cruelty any more than it’s a catalyst for kindness. It’s just that, when you’re playing a cruel game set in a cruel world and that game is ostensibly a role-playing game, you begin to think: should I be cruel too? I’ve already shot a guy. How much crueller can I get? And then, when you start to explore all the possibilities, it turns out the answer to that question is: A LOT.

We became expert torturers. We reasoned that to kill was a mercy. Real torturers keep their prey alive, full of fear and uncertainty. We prowled the coast – where the bambis graze – and discussed with hyena laughter what we would do to our next victim. We invented villainous characters for ourselves. I donned a Kevlar ‘Press’ vest and a white helmet and became ‘Esteemed Official of the Free Press’. Alex and Richie became my military escort. They held the next fresh spawn at gunpoint while I ‘interviewed’ him.

“We’ve all lost someone,” I would say. “It has been a hard apocalypse. But that’s a lovely bag you have, very well embroidered. Let me look at the lining of that fashionable bag of yours.”

And when we let him go and he ran off, freed of his food and possessions, Alex would shout after him: “THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.”

Alex would make himself useful in other ways. He spoke fluent Russian, and up until now the application of this skill had been limited to the obvious – reading the Cyrillic road signs of Chernarus for us. But we soon devised another use. The next bambi got an earful of Angry Russian, with me acting as ‘interpreter’ and falsifying as good a Russian accent as I could. We lay our new victim on the ground, stripped him of his clothes and asked him to produce his immigration papers. When he said he didn’t have any papers and was from the UK, Alex exploded with incomprehensible Russian rage.

“Oh no,” I told the immigrant, laying on the accent thick. “He say he does not like UK. You should tell him something else.”

Thinking on his feet (lying on his face) the fresh spawn quickly changed tack – he was from Scotland, he said. Alex lapsed into cheerful cries, the only discernible words being “Scotland” and “Haggis”.

“Oh yes,” I said. “He say he like the Haggis. A very dangerous creature, yes? The Haggis? Do you have any of the Haggis?”

When the immigrant announced that he had no Haggis, Alex seemed upset. But he said he thought there was some in Elektro – a city nearby. Alex was satisfied. He spoke in Russian for a long time.

“He say he is in good mood today,” I ‘translated’. “Okay. You go now. That’s all he say.”

The man stood up and ran off along the coast line, wearing nothing but his boxer shorts and vest, and it seemed he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry with relief. It didn’t matter to us. He was certain to die at the hands of some less liberal immigration patrol. We laughed our hyena laugh and moved on. Pack mentality certainly has something to do with the way you act in DayZ. I was never half as callous when I played the game alone. But as soon as you add two other people, things go a little Lord of the Flies very quickly.

We went to plenty of airfields, houses, hospitals and diners, picking anything useful out of the piles of discarded crap. Beans, bullets and bandages. But the bambis were still our favourite loot. We robbed, we punched, we shouted, we laughed. We asked them if they were hungry, and when they answered ‘yes’, we force-fed them rotten fruit. When we didn’t know what else to do, we left them handcuffed in the middle of the road, exposed to any hungry player that cared to roam by. Every encounter would end the same. We would jog off into the sunset, telling each other how bad we felt, how guilty. But we were always laughing when we said it.

But this adoption of DayZ as a procedural injustice generator isn’t what makes DayZ great (even despite the game-breaking bugs, the choppy servers and everything else associated with the hell of an alpha ‘product’). What makes DayZ great is its use of basic human trust as a game mechanic. It shares this design tenet with EVE Online and it’s an essential story-making ingredient of both games. Freed from the interminable boredom of MMO stats, this trust paves the way for a whole range of human experience. But mainly, more brutality. Early versions of the original mod changed your appearance when you killed another human (dressing you up as a ‘bandit’ in a balaclava). But the standalone version of DayZ dropped this, and is all the more suspenseful because of it. Now, you have to be wary of everyone.

We were poking about a broad, red brick house in the small coastal town of Solnichniy, when a fresh spawn came into the room. He looked at the three of us. We looked at him. There were only two doors out of the room.

“Are you okay?” said Alex.

I closed the first door.

“Do you need anything?”

I closed the second door.

“That’s a nice hat,” said Alex. “I’ll swap you my cap for that hat.”

The player looked a little spooked but he agreed and the trade went off easily. To swap, you have to drop the item you want to give away on the ground. He dropped his hat and Alex dropped his.

“Yeah, and those are nice shoes! Want to swap shoes?” I said to the player, and to Alex: “I’m keeping my shoes.”

When he put his stuff down, I lifted them, put them on my feet in front of him and said: “Actually, I quite like my own shoes too. I think I’ll keep them too.”

And now that we thought about it, all his clothes were nicer than ours.

The mugging went on for fifteen minutes. We sent him off in the direction of Berezino, barefoot and wearing our worn and ragged hand-me-downs. In DayZ, if you travel without shoes for too long your feet start to bleed. Eventually, you’ll succumb to a foot injury and running will become a problem. But this only happens if you travel on rough terrain.

“Stick to the forest,” said Alex, “along the railway line.”

We were bad people that day.

There is an obvious evolution to the long-term DayZ player. From the outside, and even sometimes from within, it seems like tormenting fresh spawns and holding people up for their shoes is a kind of ‘endgame’. The accumulating of weapons, food, knowledge and trustworthy friends (or, in my case, co-raiders) in order to survive certainly suggests that the game is slanted toward greed and death. The scarcity of resources appears to encourage violence. An ever increasing scale of player-on-player cruelty, from the simple ‘execution on sight’ to the more expert ‘holding somebody down to force feed them a bottle of disinfectant’. But the truth is more chaotic than that. You react to what you’ve done. You can always change your ways, if you want. It is because things are so scarce, and people so merciless, that your own survival seems significant. The truth is that DayZ is just a generator of feelings. Malice, pity, guilt, empathy, fear, reprieve – they come at you in waves. Sometimes they come when you don’t expect them.

We were in a warehouse, trying to break our latest victim’s leg with a baseball bat, when we heard some shots ring out. They were easily audible shots, coming from the forested mountain nearby, but distant enough that we knew they were meant for someone else. Some time later, I would die at the hands of this sniper. After the tensest stand-off of my gaming life, I would sit up in a bushel of ferns, try to look around and everything would go black. I would never even see him. (Her?) But right now we had the doors of the warehouse covered and all I was interested in was breaking this man’s leg. We put some rags in his backpack next to a bunch of sticks – items that, when combined in your inventory screen, create a splint. I knew that little bit of survivalist wisdom all too well.

“We are just going to teach you how to fix a broken leg, that’s all,” I said, getting out my baseball bat. “Don’t worry.”

The sniper fire continued. Alex was concerned. We talked about the situation over our Skype earpieces. I put the baseball bat away.

“Okay, get up,” I said.

“We’re letting you go,” said Alex.

The bambi stood up and opened the doors wide. He went out into the open and sprinted away. It wasn’t mercy, I told myself. We just needed to see if the sniper was watching for us. Alex watched to see if our newly freed victim fell. But he just ran and ran and ran, his little bambi legs, totally unbroken. I smiled. I hope that player never stops running.

If I wanted to justify what we were doing, I would say: ‘Well, if DayZ is going to be the game everybody wants it to be, then there has to be people like us. Marauders, bandits, torturers. The game NEEDS us.’ And the design of DayZ itself is truly aware of this philosophy. Without the threat of ‘bad’ players, the kindness of ‘good’ players has absolutely no value. Without horror there can be no respite, no relief. Of course, there are no good or bad players in DayZ – just survivors.

I remember a man in a white t-shirt. It was maybe the day after we killed Dorian Gray. I held him up on some railway lines and told him to get on his knees. I looked in his empty backpack and then I looked in mine, brimming with food. And maybe it was my conscience telling me to do something nice for a change, or maybe it was just because it would be unexpected, but I just filled this guy’s schoolchild’s bag up with food. Finally, I told him to run down the road before I changed my mind.

He only got about 100 metres before Alex and Richie popped out of the grass and held him up again, of course. We were like a pack of feral cats, playing with mice. The really torturous thing would be to take all the food that he had just received back. But no, something in Alex and Richie was on the same level. I watched as they put even more sardines into the man’s little red schoolbag and let him go, with food that would do him for days. If we had less food, or if he had something we wanted, would we have acted differently? Probably. But this guy didn’t know that.

He shouted “thank you” when he ran away from us.

*

The first man I murdered probably deserved it. He was wearing a clown mask, and I was young enough in DayZ to figure that a clown mask meant only one thing: a psychopath. I watched from the top floor of a half-finished construction yard as he followed an unsuspecting survivor into a house. I felt bad. I had been watching the other guy, wondering if I should call out. Now there was no warning him. Mr Clown Mask had crept out of some bushes with an axe in his hand and followed his victim into the house. A few minutes passed. The other man was dead by now, I was sure of it – hacked to pieces by this slasher movie madman. I tried to get a better view of the house when I heard a noise nearby.

Mr Clown Mask had somehow slipped out and started exploring the floors of the construction yard below me. I crept over to the crumbling edge of the top floor, looked down and saw my own shadow cast at his feet on the floor below. I was terrified he would see that shadow. He was lying prone, peering through a rifle scope at some distant trees. He can’t have been more than two metres below me. I held my breath, pointed my magnum directly at his head and took a shot.

It missed. The second shot too.

I panicked and jumped down, on top of him. It wouldn’t be until after I’d emptied the other four rounds into his belly and crawled to the nearest wall, with a mouse hand like a talon and a heartbeat like dubstep, that I’d realise I had broken my own leg in the ambush. I lay there, breathing fast, full of IRL adrenaline. Only the fatal encounter with the forest sniper, much later in DayZ life, would outdo the ‘combat high’ I was feeling at this, my first kill. Right now, I was elated with relief.

“Friendly,” said a quiet voice.

I could see nobody. But I replied with the same. “Friendly,” I said.

“Did you shoot that guy?”

It must have been the other man. Mr Clown Mask’s would-be victim. So, he was alive.

“Uh… yeah,” I said. “But he was a…” I thought for a moment. “He was a bad man.”

A pause.

“Yeah,” he answered. “I’m pretty sure he was.”

For a minute there was nothing. I asked him if he needed anything and he said no. He asked me the same and I stuttered as I thought about it. I looked at my screen, faded almost to black and white with the effects of blood loss from an earlier scrape with some zombies. To cure this, you need to eat and drink well, until the game deems you healthy enough to produce more blood. I didn’t know this at the time. I thought only a blood transfusion could fix my colourless screen.

“What do you need?” asked the hidden stranger again.

“Blood,” I said.

A minute passed.

“Hello? Are you still here?”

No answer. He was gone.

I made a splint out of a stick and some bandages and fixed up my broken leg. I thought briefly about how lucky I was to have the right items to make that splint. A valuable lesson, breaking your leg. I gave the body beside me one last look over. It had been a messy kill. All the same, I never felt bad about Mr Clown Mask. And I didn’t take the mask itself.

“Why would I?” I would say to Alex when I met up with him later. “I’m not going to become a psychopath.”

For more DayZ stories, read Emily Richardson’s four-part diary of kindness, The Saline Bandit.

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291 Comments »

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  1. aepervius says:

    YOu cut your article summary wrongly ! This article is fully on the home page of RPS instead of the usual 1 paragraph.

    ETA: I see that by the time I replied, you corrected it :).

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  2. FredZepplin says:

    “But right now… all I was interested in was breaking this man’s leg.”

    Jeez, the more I read about this game, the more I know I’ll never play it. This and Rust are real turning points for the gamification of treating people like shit.

    • Scurra says:

      Yes, that was pretty much my reaction too. It’s not even like The Walking Dead where there’s at least some sort of narrative intent behind things. On the other hand, if we could get all of “you” obsessed with playing things like this, then the rest of us could go back out on the streets and enjoy ourselves…

    • Vinraith says:

      It’s a compelling test for sociopathy, at least, I’ll give it that. The lack of empathy involved is just disturbing,

      On the other hand, maybe these kinds of games will keep the griefers busy enough that they’ll stay away from other games they might have ruined.

      • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

        Wow, if you thought the stories in this article were disturbing, I shudder to think what you would make of some of my “strategies” in Crusader Kings II. Probably the most evil thing I did in that game was murder all of the most powerful magnates in the land as King John, demanding their grieving widows give their heirs to either me or one of my flunkies to “educate” until they reached adulthood. This naturally meant using the belt on them as much as possible, to give them the most introverted traits I could manage. When they grew up, they were all pussycats who were barely comfortable saying boo to a goose, let alone their King. In that same campaign, I murdered my brother Richard the Lionheart, went to war with his son, killed him, took in his young daughter to educate (initially for sympathetic reasons). Shen then ended up my mistress, so when my wife died I made her my Queen in a perverse attempt to make myself look legitimate. Just a tiny selection of my various misdemeanours.

        The point is that, in a cruel world, be it a zombie apocalypse or medieval politics, you do cruel things to beat the game. These are videogames, winning is the object. No need to call in the men in white coats.

        • HadToLogin says:

          At least until you remember that’s what CEOs do :)

        • NathanH says:

          The obvious difference is that in CK2 the actors you are abusing are unfeeling AIs, and you are abusing them because it is good play. In this article the actors being abused are feeling humans, and they are being abused not because it’s good play, just because it’s a laugh.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            Hmmm, I see what you mean. Although I have played CK2 multiplayer with 31 strangers before, my evil deeds were usually within the context of, as you say, “good play”. I suppose this is the subtle distinction between amorality and immorality that we are discussing, here.

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            bglamb says:

            Yeah, but they’re not really being abused. I mean, taking their food and breaking their legs is more like, y’know, taking their ‘points’ in a game. Cos, y’know, it’s a game. I bet the people they were ‘abusing’ were having loads of fun too. I know I do when crazy stuff like that happens to me in games, even if I’m on the blunt end of it. Lots of the best board and computer games encourage you to scheme and plot and backstab and abuse your fellow players, and that’s a good, healthy thing. It’s all role-play! It’s no different to shooting someone in an FPS, except it’s a little bit more involved and allows everyone the chance to role-play some more involved feelings as a result. It’s a ‘safe’ environment for us to try out emotions like fear and guilt, without any of the real life consequences of breaking someone’s legs. None of the actions in this article struck me as genuinely malicious or causing anyone any real mental upset outside of the boundaries explicit in playing any game.

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            Worth remembering that the people being ‘abused’ have chosen to play a game in which they can be ‘abused’.

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          P7uen says:

          “These are videogames, winning is the object.”

          I don’t want to be That Guy, but for me and many others, the point is to have fun, not to win.

          Both are ok, but potentially that means people are being horrible to other people (not AI characters) for fun, not just to win, which is a bit different.

          • P.Funk says:

            In the real world when you say the exact same thing about a baseball game or even your life and how you pursue your life goals people will say the exact same thing.

            We’re a world run by winners, with winning glamourized. Don’t be a loser and care about people too much.

            I wonder how many of the bullies I sparred with in school had dad’s who told them winning was the only reason they bought them a baseball glove….

        • alw says:

          You can win DayZ? :O

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          DeVadder says:

          None of the described actions in any way help to beat the game. In fact he puts himself in danger. Of course i am aware that in many games, most likely including this one, ‘winning’ implies beating other players. And there is nothing wrong with that. But this is in no way about beating them but, and i do not get tired to point out, the author himself keeps calling it, about torturing humans.

          edited to make one thing clear: I am not sarcastic in the next sentence. I mean it and should it sound different, blame it on english not beeing my mother tongue.

          Of course i would not imply that he has issues with his mental health or anything. But the joy he describes is not the joy in overcoming challenges or proving to be better than other players, but it is the joy of sadism. And note i also do not want to imply, that the author would somehow take this to the real world, torturing pets or whatever, by no means!
          People seem to assume that everybody who has a problem with actions in a game automatically assumes them to carry over to RL. And i can not stress enough: I do not. I just say, that it is worth noting and pointing out, that we do not talk about an effort to win at a game here but about an effort to make other humans feel unhappy.
          Pretending this was a normal reason to play video games shines a bad light on them and gives those fuel who want to ban or censor games.
          In fact, personally, i am more than happy that people who play for that reason do so in a game known for it. I am a lot more annoyed by people who feed intentionally in Dota because they take the joy of angering others into games where people did not sign up for it.
          I am not asking for the article to be removed or censored, but to be commented. And so i do.

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        Cinek says:

        “The lack of empathy involved is just disturbing,” – It’s a game. People put too much pressure on thinking that it’s some sort of deep social experiment. BS. It’s just a game. People go in to shoot crap out of everything around, and then on a next day they are nicest, most helpful players you encountered. And then on a next day they crazy-drive a car, or go for zombie-hunting. Just to play a doctor day after.

        IT’S JUST A GAME.
        Using judgement you do every RTS player should be accused for tendencies to be a mass-murderer, often committing genocides worth of Stalin or Hitler. Total BS. People really need to start distinguishing reality from games, and stop putting “social experiment” labels on various games.

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          dahauns says:

          How are “Being a game” and “can be seen as a social experiment” mutually exclusive?

        • alw says:

          Comparing it to an RTS is kind’ve a false equivalency though. An RTS is essentially a puzzle game, same as chess. There are set win conditions which you have to achieve, at which point the game is won. That doesn’t hold true of a sandbox because you set your own goals and win conditions. You decide if shooting other people is a good thing or not – you could just as easily choose to help people instead.

        • Phendron says:

          Not everyone can tie up an avatar that is controlled by a human player (who you can presumably hear their protests over proximity chat) and force them to drink bleach or break their leg while they are helpless, and then just turn it off and tune out as if it were a game of peggle.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Honestly, despite the inhumanity of this and Rust, you are missing a treat. It’s easy enough to avoid people in DayZ as long as you’re careful. Rust, not so much, but when you finally survive long enough to build a shelter with adequate resources stashed, and manage to forge that 9mm pistol… boy, a bigger grin can not be found.

    • sinister agent says:

      This has been my reaction too. Literally every time I read something about this game, I want to play it even less. A real pity, as I had a great time for a couple of days when the original mod first exploded.

      • aldo_14 says:

        The thing that strikes me about all the DayZ stories is that I’d always be the one getting screwed 5 minutes in. I’d love to be one of the super-altruistic guys in these games, with all the skills and high level equipment… but I know that’d never happen. I’d be dead, on a beach, in my underwear every single time.

      • Carlos Danger says:

        My thoughts exactly. When the original mod came out it was great. Mainly because it was a new and fresh concept. But now it just seems to have devolved into a virtual knock out game for people who can’t pull it off in the real world. Not so much a fault of the game just the folks that gravitate towards it.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      It’s almost enough to make you wish some Orwellian Big Brother was monitoring DayZ servers – so they knew which people to take away and which not to.

      This and Rust are nothing but torture porn movies made interact-able. Like Saw where you get apply the torture yourself. Despicable, without even the hint of self awareness.

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        puppybeard says:

        I actually think it’s a bit sad, the way some people are reacting to this, describing the game as a torture simulator and so on. ESPECIALLY the people who openly admit that they haven’t played the f-ing game.

        There’s a little bit more to it than that.

        Congratulations, you’re acting like the people who say Grand Theft Auto is a game about murdering prostitutes. Your desk at the Daily Mail is ready.

        That said, not wanting to play DayZ because it’s an incredibly cruel game world is fair enough. It is. But that’s why it’s so much fun to find strangers who actually want to team up. I’ve played it a bunch and never been tortured. I have been subject to one or two hilarious murders though.

      • hungrycookpot says:

        Welcome to video gaming, where people participate in simulated violence against each other. Halo, Call of Duty, Unreal Tournament, Titanfall, Chivalry, pretty much every shooter or slasher game with multiplayer in the last 20 years has involved horribly mutilating or killing other Players, usually with no peaceful option available, and you don’t complain about those. In fact, you browse a web-site that promotes simulated violence on other people in ~70% of the games featured. I’m really not sure what you’re worked up about…

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      DeVadder says:

      It really wonders me how anyone can type a sentence like “But right now… all I was interested in was breaking this man’s leg.” and publish it on a website about games mostly known for it nice spirit and community and not step back and wonder if that is really what one should brag about…

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        Bluerps says:

        I don’t think Mr Caldwell is bragging.

        • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

          Probably not, but the fact remains that he does make excuses for his behaviour even though he claims otherwise. To me it looks like Day Z and the like are fast turning into the torture porn of gaming. As such the survival game is less about survival and more about hurting others.

          • thatoneguy11 says:

            no one is being hurt….its a game!!!!!
            its always about survival one way or another….the person getting “tortured” failed to find any allies, weapons, and most importantly failed to remain unseen when vulnerable….all survival

          • fatgleeson says:

            I’m more amazed that people on this site are reacting to this like my 60 year old mother reacted to GTA 3 being a ‘hooker simulator’. Naysayers who haven’t played this game need to realise that stories like this are exactly why people play DayZ

          • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

            I never said anyone was being hurt. I said the game is about hurting others. Just like torture porn films are about hurting people. It’s not the fact that I’d feel hurt in a game like this. It’s the fact that I don’t see the point of gameplay that is about hurting and mostly that. If the hurt was the point as in the hilarity of Worms then you know from the start and both parties can laugh about it.

            Say what you will; Day Z is becoming less and less about survival and more and more about griefing.

    • hatseflats says:

      Personally I also find these stories incredibly boring. The early stories about the mod, when it was all about survival, and being happy to find just a single axe to defend oneself from zombies, were amazing. The sheer joy of finding such common items like cans of beans so one could survive for a bit longer, collecting bandages to be able to take some hits and living to tell the tale (or getting hit by a zombie and slowly bleeding to death desperately searching for medical aid) made for gripping tales of survival and indeed humanity.

      The current stories are all about people with pretty awesome gear (where did all that military grade hardware come from?) trolling others. I can subjugate myself to observing trolling firsthand by going through some Youtube comments, thanks very much.

      The same holds true for playing it. It’s become a slow deathmatch which is all about trolling the new guys. What’s the appeal? Relative to posting offensive Youtube comments, that is.

    • Lemming says:

      Same. It’s like all the psychopaths are coming out of the woodwork but ‘lol it’s only rp’.

    • Jockie says:

      I think Dayz is interesting from a perspective of how people treat each other in gaming worlds when there are no rules. But yes, it is essentially becoming a platform for insecure people to live out their fantasies as bullys/badasses. I guess that’s kind of why some people play games in the first place though (which is probably why its so popular).

      • fatgleeson says:

        There are rules – you need food, you need water. You can loot them from houses, but why would I play a game where all you do is walk around picking up things? In a GROSSLY UNFINISHED game world where all you have are guns and other people, why is everyone so surprised that this sort of thing happens? Of course I’m going to mess with people. Players enter the game expecting this kind of thing

    • Chuckleluck says:

      But is the actual game that bad? I seem to only hear horror stories about murderers and bandits online. Is that because only horror stories about murderers and bandits are stories worth telling? In the closest thing I’ve ever played to this (MineZ, which is a Minecraft mod that emulates DayZ in a medieval setting), it wasn’t hard to find a friendly and mostly loyal survivor.

      • Teamy says:

        I think when the circumstances are right, and banditry is done ‘well’ (i.e. not shot on sight), that is what makes the story.

        I ran into a guy today who gave me a gun for no reason. I could’ve had ammo and I could’ve killed him but he trusted me enough not to do that. I ended up playing with him for about 3 hours… but that isn’t fun to retell others.

        Edit: Oh, and another nice moment was when I respawned and ran into 3-4 other new spawns. We stood in the middle of the street while one of them played “Scar Tissue” over the game comms, while we all swayed in a ‘dance’. 2 minutes later we were gunned down en masse.

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      Rizlar says:

      Dunno how accurate ‘the gamification of treating people like shit’ is. You don’t get points for being a bastard in DayZ. The game is set up to create tension between players with the lack of resources, how easy it is to die, constant threat from zombies etc, but holding someone at gunpoint and breaking their leg with a baseball bat serves no explicit purpose within the game. It’s all just human behaviour.

      Like Brendan says in the article while unconvincingly trying to justify his actions to himself: DayZ needs arseholes to make any help you get that much more precious! In reality DayZ could exist as a utopia of selflessness, with players banding together to make a peaceful haven free from the threat of zombies (in fact Rocket wants to encourage this sort of thing in the future, with persistent player-built structures). But there is in fact no shortage of murderous, experienced players, who having got a handle on the survival side of things are looking for new ways to amuse themselves, leading them to fuck with the less experienced players and each other.

      I don’t know, I find DayZ too interesting and amazingly intense to be put off by the horrible things people do to each other. Only ever played solo (read: victim) in the past, so it’s not like I’ve even had a chance to grief other people (unless you count desperately axing some poor bastard from behind, or stealing a car boot full of meat). Haven’t played the standalone yet, but I look forward to doing so when it’s more complete.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      Dayz needs people like that like EVE needs goonswarm and pirates. I have only been held up by polite bandits so far. It’s when the verbal aspect becomes like bullying it becomes unpleasant for me, like if someone actually got properly abusive. That has never happened yet and if it did I can just log out. Is only a game after all.

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      Jackablade says:

      Yeah, this is pretty fucked up. I think this might have turned me off DayZ entirely. Doesn’t exactly do wonders for my opinion of some of you RPS writers either.

      • hungrycookpot says:

        Ever played Unreal Tournament? Your goal in that game was to horribly murder an entire team of other Players. No wandering. No collecting. No survival. Just murder and mutilation and insanity. How is this worse?

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          DeVadder says:

          In UT you win by killing. You get a score for that. And to kill, you need to be better than the enemy. Who is also armed. It is a challenge and i do not believe that a lot of people play it as a murder simulator, cherishing the joy of slowly torturing their enemy. Probably mostly because they would get owned hard.
          In the DayZ of the article, there are neither any points to win or any challenges to overcome when hunting for Bambis. And the author does not take them out to get any advantage either. It is not the slightest about the loot or the victory, it is only about the fun in being an asshole to other people who can not defend themselves.
          Instead of quitting of course, obviously it can not be compared to any form of real life crime or whatever. But the motivation is a different one.

          • iiiears says:

            A game about zombies and.. nuanced thoughtful discussion. – The article grabbed me and 300 posts later.. where did the morning go?

            Arma, -> DayZ -> RUST -> Chernarus Life -> Maybe someday a popular “ground bound” E.V.E.

            Injustice, Cruelty, Torture, and after several I hours close Google Local/International News and relax with a game…

            Take a quick look at APPLE founder firing a GOOGLE employee for disobeying an unwritten rule.
            “Newly unsealed documents show Steve Jobs’ brutal response after getting a Google employee fired.”

            Weird photo right?

    • thatoneguy11 says:

      to all of those saying…”i will never play this game because of the torment and cruelty” are so very very wrong and youre the one missing out.

      ive been playing this game for a couple weeks now and honestly ive never had so many emotions involved in a game before ever- its genius. you guys are just focusing on the wrong aspects.

      so far in this game ive seen some hilarious things. some torture like what was in this article but a lot are just funny human interactions that no other game can offer. ive come across a guy pretending to be a priest in a church- with about 15 people in the church jumping around and preaching with him- it was glorious. ive seen about 20 people having an organized “fight club” where people were betting on boxing matches- again hilarious…. the glory is- you never know what youre going to run into.

      Plus it goes both ways. there are tons of good people. there have been countless people who have not only shared their food/items but their knowledge too. there are those who dont hunt “bambis” but rather do good and get revenge by actively hunting these so called torturers. Ive been in almost hour long firefights with bandits and let me tell you- very few games can offer an adrenaline rush like that.

      so again- dont read this guys article and act all high and mighty because 1 its only one side of the story and 2 its just a game.

      • thatoneguy11 says:

        plus you guys are not taking into account that the average life in this game is very short…..to think its cruel to ruin someones gaming experience is a wrong assessment because everyone knows they have a lifespan of a mayfly. sometimes-you get eaten by zombies, fall to your death, starve, get shot, get tortured, eat bad food…..no one is ruining someones big investment

        • hungrycookpot says:

          If everyone was wandering around politely queuing up for scavenge sites and warning each other about incoming weather patterns, it would be pretty boring wouldn’t it? It’s supposed to be a challenge, and you’re NOT SUPPOSED to survive your first couple play sessions.

    • Talksintext says:

      First, you hardly NEED to take his approach. It’s far from universal. A lot of people are quite nice, quite willing to work as a team, especially as new spawns, and you can always choose (solo or as a group) to avoid conflict or when you meet armed groups to try to work together. I’ve had that work out well on numerous occasions. And not well on others…

      Playing as a group, you work as a tactical team, you approach objectives (loot spawns: towns, camps) using things like base of fire support and tactical formations and intelligent use of terrain and cover and so on. In that sense, it’s a milsim RP still. And it’s just your group’s choice of how to deal with anyone they encounter. Usually, if it’s sudden at close quarters, that means a typical FPS firefight without much time or thought for torturous cruelty. Or if you have the jump on them and superior numbers/firepower, you can have one of these “interesting encounters”, however sadistically or altruistically you want to play them out.

      And the fact that so many people are out to get you makes playing alone quite exciting and challenging. You learn to use the terrain to conceal yourself, to be ever watchful, because you know full well how being obvious leads to death. It’s a constant state of readiness and awareness, with many jolts of adrenaline and suspense. And hard decisions. If you’re in a “free fire” zone where just about every encounter ends in a firefight, how long do you go before you start shooting people from the shadows? Who deserves it? Or is it just a matter of “that’s the game: ultimately it’s an FPS with guns”?

      If you scrub away all the sadism of these reported press encounters, that’s what you’re left with (and a lot of players are NOT sadistic or RPing, they’re just playing an FPS with zombies and scarcity and gearing up). So how unethical is it to take part and shoot someone who was running out in the open like a fool, even if he posed no real threat to you? Isn’t that the game? But then it’s not, because it’s whatever you want to make of it.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      These reactions are hilarious. Games in which you run around shooting each other have existed for a long time, but it’s only since DayZ that suddenly things are problematic? Since when does breaking someone’s leg in a videogame make you an actual psychopath, rather than someone who is playing a videogame? The knowledge that the person you kill is a character in a game who will respawn shortly afterwards is kind of relevant. You sound like the tabloids.

      • Bing_oh says:

        This isn’t really about games that have let you kill other people and their history. In such games, the point of the “killing” is usually either because that is the game (CoD, CounterStrike, Team Fortress, etc) or because there is something to be gained from that “killing” (supplies and such). What was described has neither component. If the author was hunting people who were also hunting him, I can see the point. If he were hunting people to get additional supplies as a mode of in-game survival, I could even see that. He wasn’t doing either. He was killing people he knew were essentially defenseless for the sheer sadistic joy of it.

        As many others have said, I think that reflects poorly upon a person’s underlying moral compass. It’s said that what we do when nobody is looking reflects upon our true selves. Isn’t the anonymity of the internet the ultimate expression of that?

        I also wonder if the author read that after he had written it and had second thoughts about what he was doing and if it meant anything irl…

        • hungrycookpot says:

          Have you played DayZ? One might argue that he was killing the people with the least to lose. If these newbies die on the coast, they didn’t lose any gear, they didn’t waste any time travelling, and they’re not actually dead because it’s a video game. Net loss = 10 minutes of their time, an intense emotional experience, and a valuable lesson taken away that players in DayZ are not to be trusted.

          • Bing_oh says:

            So it’s not sadistic to torture and kill baby rabbits because they were just born, don’t have anything to lose, and would probably be eater by a larger predator when they get older anyway? It’s kinda like you’re saying that he’s doing this as a mercy (these “bambis” were too weak to survive anyway) or a teaching tool (they need to learn that this is a cruel game full of heartless bastards and they need to be that way, too). Sounds like an excuse for thuggish behavior to me.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            I guess it depends on whether they’re real baby rabbits or the baby rabbit avatars of human players of a videogame that explores the harsh nature of baby rabbit life.

            If it’s the former then it’s wrong; the latter is fine.

            P.S “Baby rabbit” = “Kit”.

    • Kurskovole says:

      Something worth noting is that for many, even being the victim in these sorts of encounters is much better than being shot by a sniper picking off bambis on the coast. These RPS writers were facilitating memorable experiences for these players. The only death worth being bitter about in DayZ is when you are shot by a unseen gunman who didn’t utter a word.

      The game at it’s best is about encounters with people, not about amassing a horde of beans. The beans are just why the encounters occur.

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      puppybeard says:

      Okie dokie, some points, for people who haven’t actually played the game and think it’s a torture simulator:

      1) the game is, by the lead devs estimate, 20% complete. There is f-all to do but interfere with people, in a positive or negative way, once you have half-decent gear.

      2) as someone who plays “nice”, murderers / torturers MAKE the game. You wouldn’t believe the tension involved in approaching people hoping for a positive reaction. If there wasn’t a good chance of them murdering you, it’d be sing-a-long happy bean collectors and it would be shit

      3) apart from player action, spawning fresh is currently one of the most entertaining pieces of the game. The struggle to survive and accumulate a food/water supply, as well as be able to defend yourself, is a fraught affair, and highly compelling. Getting killed lets you experience it again.

      All that said, DayZ is a cruel game world and I get why a lot of people wouldn’t want to play it. It’s a hard slog.

      • JanusForbeare says:

        “Okie dokie, some points, for people who haven’t actually played the game and think it’s a torture simulator”

        When you put it like that, it reminds me of the “sexbox” controversy over the sex scenes in Mass Effect (for those who aren’t aware, a couple of neocon “journalists” claimed that Mass Effect was an interactive rape simulator that allowed you to sodomise everyone you meet. Neither had played the game.)

        I’m a little surprised that so many normally sane members of the RPS commentator community have suddenly taken it upon themselves to be moral guardians. Don’t we have enough of those interfering in the gaming world already?

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          Cinek says:

          that allowed you to sodomise everyone you meet. – With that part I can agree. And yes – I did play ME series. Fact that you can fuck with pretty much everyone, sometimes even unwillingly (dialogue options are so vague that half of the time you have no clue why the heck your character said that) seems to perfectly confirm the point that guy made.

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          puppybeard says:

          Yep, sensationalised prejudice, now available for people who actually play games.

      • Donjo says:

        Totally agree here – people complaining about psychopathic murderers and torturers running around a post apocalyptic environment possibly don’t understand that this is a large factor in making the game at the moment. When there is more to do it might not be as important, as there will be other goals to create and reach but at the moment interaction is everything and if every interaction was going to be nice and breezy it would get very boring, very fast. Losing all your shit through death because I usually play nice is incredibly annoying but the annoyance disappears quickly having nothing to lose again.

    • varangian says:

      Absolutely. To summarise it appears DayZ allows you to play either as a douchebag like Brendan, stay stuck in an endless cycle of being the victim of douchebags like Brendan, or hiding away from everyone else so you can eat beans in the bushes. Neither of these options seems particularly appealing.

      Someone might say there’s another option, to be a guardian angel helping the less fortunate to survive and so on. But I suspect that approach is never going to fly as you’ll have to be a heavily armed guardian angel who everyone, having had a few encounters with douchebag Brendans, will run away from or shoot at, depending on circumstances.

      Seems to be SA DayZ is replicating with exactitude the problems of mod DayZ which I played for a bit. If you were the only person on a server survival is trivial as the environment is not hostile enough to make you particularly need someone to watch your back. There are no goals that make co-operation on any kind of large scale a worthwhile objective (unlike Eve to which a comparison is made) and no individual skills that might make you a valuable asset that other people would like to keep alive instead of a corpse to be looted for beans.

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        Cinek says:

        Someone might say there’s another option, to be a guardian angel helping the less fortunate to survive and so on.

        I tried that. It just doesn’t work. People are like: “wow, awesome, thank you!” and then shoot you in a back as soon as they got a chance. One discovery I made – having anything good is a curse. Makes “guardian angel”-you dead faster.

    • apa says:

      Me too. I hope the teamkillers etc from other online games go to dayz and rust and leave the rest of us to have fun!

  3. Sathure says:

    I follow some pretty static rules I learned to follow in the early days of the mod. In many PvP oriented games or servers (I do enjoy playing them) I would be considered a “carebear” I guess. Since I don’t actively seek out confrontation. I mostly only engage in as a means of defense. I hardly ever am the first to engage in hostilities. In a complete Free For All setting like DayZ however things have to change a little bit if you want to live.

    Most important thing to learn, and you will learn this eventually if you continue playing is that if you personally do not know the person outside of the game you cannot trust them. Trust no one at all. Period. All ways have apprehension.

    1) If I see you and you see me. More than likely I will kill you.

    2) If I see you but you don’t see me. As long as your not in my way and don’t have a high chance of seeing me, I’ll leave you be.

    3) Don’t let yourself be captured. More than likely they’re going to kill you anyway. So if you can, go down fighting even if they outnumber you. Chances are you can catch them off guard by surprise. So you may either get away or kill them.

  4. Teamy says:

    Bravo, Master Caldwell.

  5. ninjapirate says:

    I found reading this article rather sickening.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Sadly, me too. I’ve long lost the wonder for dayz. The tense encounters with players, with often didnt end in some weird clumsy duel, but actually scavenging a few buidlings, and then bidding goodbye. Stalking a bandit, or being hunted by one.

      Now, this might sound like an overreaction -it probably is-, but dayz right now is only a terrible reminder of just how ugly the human soul is.

      The sad thing is i think the kind of cruelty is enforced by design. There are very few interactions that players can have that are not destroying each other. A single trade interface would hint the player that that is a viable way to play the game. Having to drop items into the ground awkwardly to give it to someone else, feels like a loophole, not a mechanic.

      The only version of this mod i’ve been able to stomach lately, is breaking point. Not killing people, or just hunting bandits is rewerded, with tranquilizing weapons at spawn, for example.

      • farrier says:

        “The sad thing is i think the kind of cruelty is enforced by design. There are very few interactions that players can have that are not destroying each other.”

        Exactly; it would be a much more interesting game if there were incentives to doing “good” (edit: or more concrete ways to do “good,” or consequences to doing “good”). Instead, because it is a game and you’re not *actually* tormenting people physically or psychologically (well, not psychologically for most, I think), and you’re not *actually* killing people, you don’t have to live with the guilt and moral impact of murder. There are still moral twinges to overcome, but in the end, “it’s only a game.”

        So I think people find it far easier to behave like psychopaths, since there aren’t many reasons not to, especially if you play with friends. Behavior like this is not a terrible thing, I guess, but I don’t think it allows you to say anything very interesting. “Look what I did even though in real life it is bad.”

        I don’t think the (near) absence of moral consequence is a bad thing; I think, being a game, it’s somewhat unavoidable. I just wish it would incorporate more things, artificial yes, to make the game a bit more complex and interesting.

        • Wulfram says:

          Shouldn’t there be some Zombies you need to team up to fight?

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            Cinek says:

            Nope. There are basically two scenarios:

            1) It’s not worth the effort. If you gather enough people to murder all of the zombies – expense in ammo, time, and effort rarely pays off in loot for everyone.
            2) After some time – when you got enough stuff to take part in such raid – it might be more effective to kill zombies yourself. Or sneak past them.

            When it comes to groups IMHO it’s not worth at all going for anything bigger than 2 people. Perhaps if you want to build something awesome like a bus or something 3-4 people might work, but that’s pretty much it.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          If they add player-made buildings etc, you’ll see all sorts of advantages to teaming up.

        • varangian says:

          During the time of the mod I had arguments on the forum with people who claimed that in a real life zombie apocalypse (or something like) shooting on sight and looting the body for stuff would be exactly what they’d do. Some were obvious tards/trolls, a few I fear were actually serious but most just hadn’t thought out the situation very well. In real life it’s much more complicated and the consequences of such actions likely to be terminal sooner or later. Without going into the whole thing again at it’s most basic a can of beans will keep you alive for a few hours, another human being to watch your back and help you carry a crate of beans away will keep you alive a whole lot longer, but DayZ does little to encourage players to think on these lines.

      • GardenOfSun says:

        I thoroughly concur. I’ve never played any version of this game, but the more I read about it, the less I’m inspired by it. Even leaving aside the liberality with which people seem to think “rping” these behaviours is supposed to be “fun”, the point for me is that there’s no meaning in survival if – unlike real life – the game doesn’t manage to put a strong stress on community and human interactions. For example, take EVE: in that game there’re actually several factions fighting, each with their own projects and so on. From what I read about DayZ, nothing like that ever springs up here. The main reason is probably the fact that permanent death when you can just respawn anew one minute later is actually a *disincentive* to play constructively. But that also means that this kind of game is a “survival” experience only in its basic (and, apparently, basest) form.

        I don’t know, I’d probably like to see a dissenting RPS voice writing a companion critical article of all this.

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      DeVadder says:

      Me too. I play Eve and kill unarmed ships in lowsec on sight without ever feeling bad, killing things in highsec has never bothered me either. If you manage to take them out, you deserve to. I have seen my share of gore and whatnot, but this article was outright disgusting to me. I would well prefer to never read a single word by that guy again.
      I see no issue with graphic cruelty in games and i also understand the joy in ‘awesome’ graphic violence. But these accounts of their feeling of pure joy at the fear and misery of actual humans behind their computer is honestly the first thing that has ever made me actualy question whether there really may be some issues with violent video games. Or with violent video gamers to be more precise.
      And it also is the first time in my ive that i actually believe that i could not be friends in real life with someone because of their actions in a video game.
      To me, this was the most disgusting article on videogames i have ever read. Thanks for that, i guess?

      • jarowdowsky says:

        I agree, feel more than a little ill after reading that. Not often I read an article and hope to never meet the writer.

        • roosten says:

          I think I’d have to express my relief that other people are feeling disturbed by this article. Startlingly unpleasant.

        • Synesthesia says:

          He’s actually bullied to appear in SUSD too, so from appearances, i’d wager this is just a writing persona.

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          AngelTear says:

          Brendan is writing this article, though, which means
          1) He is aware of what he is saying and the moral consequences and how disgusting it sounds (how many people are as aware as he is?)
          2) He is being bravely and painfully honest (if it’s his experience) or accurate (if he’s roleplaying/impersonating others who are not themselves roleplaying).

          The point of the article was precisely to make you feel horrified at it. And it seems he did an awesome job.

          • jarowdowsky says:

            I think the issue is that reading this it wasn’t the game I was horrified by.

          • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

            That’s just the thing. It’s not the game or it’s mechanics that “horrify” me, but rather the excuse that there “has to be assholes” to create the tension needed. That’s like saying we need psychopaths to appreciate or feel excitement in real life. In a game were starvation, dehydration and death by zombies is a very real possibility I fail to see the need for gaming sociopaths.

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            AngelTear says:

            Maybe I haven’t got my point across clearly enough.

            Take Papers Please, a game designed to subtly but surely make you insensitive to the needs of the people you’re accepting or rejecting. You do those things and you act like a horrible human being and then you realize what you’re doing and that the game made you do it (at least, influenced you, you think you wouldn’t act like that in real life). There is a valuable experience, a learning experience that you can bring back to real life: you learned from mistakes you made in a consequence-free environment, and that’s why the game’s atmosphere is so powerful.

            It’s arguable whether DayZ is (consciously or unconsciously) designed to push this kind of behavior, but it unmistakably does bring it out in a large chunk of people who would not and do not, in fact, behave like that to everyone all the time. Feeling it, recognizing it, reflecting on it and writing about it is a valuable learning experience much in the same fashion of that of Papers Please, even if it wasn’t part of the dev’s purpose to bring about that experience, and even if the vast majority of the players won’t have the same level of self-reflection IMO.

            For the same reasons, the article is beautiful: because it’s not “The confessions of a sociopath”, but the reflections and experiences of a not-particularly-evil person under a certain set of circumstances and influences. I’m sure Brendan and the rest of the RPS writers aren’t born-to-kill sociopaths ;)

          • Talksintext says:

            “”the reflections and experiences of a not-particularly-evil person under a certain set of circumstances and influences. I’m sure Brendan and the rest of the RPS writers aren’t born-to-kill sociopaths””

            It really doesn’t take that much restraint to be a “decent” person in DayZ any more than it does to be one in reality. It’s one thing to shoot at other players, it’s an FPS after all, but a whole other to RP out sadistic cruel scenarios for their own entertainment value.

            You can say the circumstances and influences make them sociopaths, and it’s not in their nature, but then quite a lot of people play this game and never act this way. Same circumstances and influences. If it’s his friends that are part of the influence, well, he chose them and stuck with them. I’ve come across assholes in this game – I just stopped teaming up with them and waited to find more “normal” or “decent” players.

            The fact he’s self-aware of this doesn’t really cleanse him. Actually, it damns him more because he’s aware yet still revels in it. There is not honest attempt to change his behavior upon reflection, but rather ethically and socially empty justifications (the game needs sociopaths).

          • GardenOfSun says:

            Well Angel, while I definitely agree that this doesn’t need to be about Brendan or his article per se – I’d rather focus on the glaring defects of the game this unwittingly underlines – it certainly feels a bit off that he doesn’t see fit to explicitly and clearly criticise the game for fostering this kind of behaviour without any counter-mechanic designed to help whoever would like to play in the opposite way. It’s almost as if he doesn’t realise that reducing the whole game to this really sounds like a demeaning and not-fun experience.
            Also, I think the comparison with Papers, Please is a bit off. I mean, in that game – which in that respect is almost a wee work of art – the whole design is meant to let you have the experience of the dictatorship drone, *precisely* because the author doesn’t condone it, but rather feels the human need to explore it. That is compounded by the fact that the game isn’t multiplayer, so that the people you are hurting and being insensitive to aren’t actually people. In this instance however there’s no statement or witnessing about the human nature, but rather just a flawed simulation that seem to cater more to people who enjoy being dicks than to people who enjoy building something and creating a network of relationships with other people.

          • flashlight_eyes says:

            Agreeing with angel here,
            you all are missing the point entirely and are really doing some stark judging from your high horses. I am sure you guys always are extremely nice in all of your multiplayer videogames and board games? Even ones that pit you against someone else? People play DAYZ for these kind of tense expieriences, and if anything they are much more interesting than the black and white ones we are put into in most games, which is usually KILL X BECAUSE THEY ARNT YOU. Revelling in your power a bit is within the structure of TONS of games, it practically forms the basis of call of duty killstreaks and any MMO where you gain better loot than other players then kill them with it, in fact any game where you have more skill than another player and inflict your will on them. Its a game designed to make you feel tense and crazy experiences and dayz does an amazing job of it. There are no rules in dayz, and experimenting with different approaches to how to treat other players is part of the SIMULATION, which is supposed to simulate a real life surivival experience. If everyone felt always compelled to be 100% nice to eachother in this game even if it meant the death of their character then the game would’nt be the one the creators set out to make, and it wouldnt be doing a good job of simulating a real surivaval/post apocalyptic expierience, which is what the players want. Players like Brenden here actually make the game more interesting, and i would love if my character experienced something like being interrogated as it would make a great story, which is why i play the game in the first place.

      • Premium User Badge

        bglamb says:

        I can’t believe how many people can so completely miss the point of what was going on in this game. Real people in the homes were not being tortured or upset, even mentally. Shooting someone in DayZ is no different to shooting someone in Quake except it involves something called ROLE PLAY. Sure, in Quake nobody will tell you to take of your shoes at gunpoint and then shoot you anyway, but that’s the whole point! I’ve been on the recieving end of plenty of those situations and I can assure you that they are just as fun to have inflicted on you as they are to inflict on others (if somewhat more frustrating in the moment). It’s the whole reason you play. It’s not like bullying someone over the voice chat of a chess game. This interaction is the whole effing point! It’s what you sign up to be a part of and, once again, ROLE PLAY.

        There are dozens of people commenting above how they are sickened by the activities described above. It’s curiously like reading the Daily Mail or something, and hearing people say how sickened they are by hearing in the new Modern Warfare about how people are “shooting each other in the head for points” OMG! Shooting other people?!?! For points?!??! BAN THIS SICK FILTH!!! I’m sickened and you should be ashamed for shooting that poor man in the head for points!

        • P.Funk says:

          Maybe you could appreciate a more nuanced perspective if you didn’t relegate all thoughtful discussion of the psychology of the article’s behavior to being simply a bunch of hand wringers doing a Daily Mail over nothing.

          Experiments with human psychology within perfectly safe and banal environments have determined that within us is a tendency, if correctly encouraged and intangibly present from birth/upbringing/experience/trauma, to behave in truly horrific ways. This isn’t necessarily distinguishable between only games and real life.

          The point is that many people are disturbed with the idea of role playing torture, murder, and deliberately committing horrible acts of brutality. Its one thing to say “survive”, fine, but when survival gets boring and you want to break someone’s leg for shits? Its an interesting to explore the idea of how far does this gaming tendency delve into our real tendencies, where does the inhibition to not do this in real life come from and how is it really any different if in a game?

          I’m not saying everyone who tortures someone in DayZ is a sociopath, rather I’m saying that its an interesting case to explore the real nature of human tendency and drive and what we secretly find enjoyable when you strip away the layers of social taboo and accountability.

          As we move further and further from being able to make absolute distinctions between our digital and our physical lives its not absurd to begin to explore things like “what does the psychology of our behavior online have to say about us as real people?”.

          The hand wringers are annoying, but the conversation could be very interesting academically.

        • Moosey says:

          Do you fail to realize that the people on the receiving end are obviously enjoying it? It’s a game bud, it’s made for fun, and obviously people are having fun on the receiving end or not.

    • spr00se says:

      Same. A bunch of excuses blaming the system for some really dickish behaviour.. might be just me, but I really wouldn’t waste my time making other people feel bad in this way.

      • Premium User Badge

        Rizlar says:

        How bad would you really feel after two people have spent 15mins shouting at you in russian and talking about haggis before letting you run off in your underpants though?

      • fatgleeson says:

        DayZ players play the game to be ‘made to feel bad’. The shenanigans are 100% the entire point of the game, so stretching those shenanigans as far as you can take them only creates more enjoyment. Do you think the tortured player had a nice cry after they threatened to break his in-game leg? NO he probably thought “that was an interesting encounter, the kind of which I bought this game (alpha) for”

        • P.Funk says:

          As games become more real though, as things become closer to reality, one can only wonder if eventually we may begin to see real psychological trauma from gaming.

          One day we’ll probably have gaming more like the TNG holodeck. That will be an interesting time to be a therapist.

  6. Maulrat says:

    I havent been this disturbed reading anything since my last Stephen King Novel… Bravo!

    And to add rather, did you polish off the night with the old Ludwig Van’s 9th ?

    The droogs wouldve been so proud of your work !

    • GameCat says:

      Which one of King’s novels was so disturbing? I’m curious.

  7. Donjo says:

    Books are functional – put a book into one of the hotkey spaces and press the hotkey number to open it, go through pages by pressing arrow keys.

  8. Shiloh says:

    *reads article, puts pipe to lips*

    *puff puff*

    *taps article with mouthpiece of pipe*

    Now THAT, gentlemen (and possibly ladies), is why I shall never play Day Z.

  9. tk421242 says:

    Basically what this article and so many others I have read tell me is that once you get ‘established’ in the game and have friends and gear the only thing to do is terrorize people.

    • The Random One says:

      Psychopathy is the endgame.

    • Premium User Badge

      DrollRemark says:

      Yeah, this was the impression I got too.

      It seems the issue with DayZ is less “there’s no reward for being good,” and more “there’s nothing else to do once you’re tooled up than dick around.” A higher goal would probably unite players more (whilst also probably fundamentally changing the game, unfortunately.)

      • P.Funk says:

        DayZ’s next evolution is to do the Minecraft upgrade.

        Players can band together against the psychopaths to build fortified encampments, villages, mini societies. The gates shut at sundown, nobody is allowed back in. Nobody is allowed in without a person who can vouch for them. If that person breaks the rules the one who vouched for him is cast out.

        Players go scavenging in bands for mutual protection. The rogues, the pirates, the travelling hucksters haunt them. The walls provide security but they also mark your position, hopefully not on any real map, but in the player’s minds. Why bother with the Zombies when you can just wait for these idealistic fools to do the work for you?

        The scavenging parties have to plan carefully. They need to vary their schedules. Never use the same route twice in a row, never come back the same way you left. Pray you make it home by sundown.

        Trust, loyalty, hierarchy, corruption. The enclaves develop their own internal structure, culture. They build factions, they elect leaders. They go through changes and people seize power, cast out and ostracize their rivals. People on the inside can make deals with those on the outside to betray the enclave.

        A raider attack at the very moment the patrol is returning, tired, unwary, the gate is open and the traitors inside harry the gatekeeper so that the door is open longer than it should. The raiders get in, all goes amok.

        The next morning another band of radiers comes to spy on this enclave. Maybe they’ll get lucky and catch the scavengers going on patrol, ambush them down the road. As the sun rises over Chernarus the light reveals a smoking ruin where walls stood the night before. Everyone is dead or run away. The supplies are gone. Something bad happened here, but there’s nothing left to gather. Time to move on.

        Maybe one day. I’d rather play that myself.

  10. lautalocos says:

    when you answered “blood” you kind of sounded more like a psycopath than MR. killer clown.

  11. Premium User Badge

    tumbleworld says:

    So, what you’re basically saying is that having spent a bunch of time being a bully and loving it, you now want to brag to the rest of us about what a top-class bully you are.

    Peachy.

    • altum videtur says:

      Yes, because one’s online actions are a clear indication of their normal behavior, and being mean to another player during some game is the same as tormenting people in “real” life.
      I thought I was the one who had trouble discerning reality from fiction (ahoy, dreams I don’t realise didn’t actually happen until much later!).

      • Premium User Badge

        DeVadder says:

        No, of course not. I do not believe Mr. Caldwell runs around actually torturing people. Or supports that kind of action. But it is clear that the enjoyment comes from the sadistic joy in making others suffer. In many other games, the joy comes from proving oneself in competition or overcoming others as a challenge. There is a difference in that, one cannot deny.
        And at the very least, i believe these stories of, as he himself calls it, torturing helpless players, should not remain uncommented or undiscussed. This is not what most people find enjoyable in a game and it should not create the impression to random readers that this is what gaming or RPS is about.
        This whole article could not have been invented better by someone on a crusade to ban or censor video games.

        • altum videtur says:

          Okay. I was going to type something about how mindbending it is to witness the ludicrous moralisation of any and all things by some people, and that it is really quite very disturbing. But in the end that’s just me (and some others) and my views on human nature. Cruelty is inherent and perfectly normal. In the end, I would say that benevolence is also inherent and similarly perfectly “normal”. To indulge our inner desires, when provided with a medium that allows us to do so without causing any kind of harm, is great and helpful (obviously not to the point of obsession, but anything is insane when taken to its logical conclusion). That DOES, in fact, include sadism. Do you despise people who are into BDSM? Or people who enjoy putting out cigar butts on their forearm because the pain excites them? Do you despise people for enjoying a nice glass of wine because alcohol will dilute the sharpness of their judgement? Or those who peruse marijuana because they bloody well enjoy the high?

          Bah. In the end, I’m doing the exact same thing. Moralising because surely my system of morality is the only system and all others are masquerading violence and brutality. Forget I said anything.

          • Premium User Badge

            DeVadder says:

            “Do you despise people who are into BDSM? Or people who enjoy putting out cigar butts on their forearm because the pain excites them? Do you despise people for enjoying a nice glass of wine because alcohol will dilute the sharpness of their judgement? Or those who peruse marijuana because they bloody well enjoy the high?”
            Funny you would ask me these questions. I had no idea that my point had anything to do with either of these. To answer them first: No. In fact i engage in all of those activities except fpr the cigarette on forearm thing. However i only understand the BDSM argument. And it really is a good one. The only thing i could answer would be that in BDSM, both sides get what they came for (hopefully), but people do not start up DayZ to be ridiculed and tormented for fun. At least so i believe. And even more so do i believe that a lot of the joy of the tormentors comes from the idea that the victim does not want to be in the situation.
            But of course you are right, they are not forced to remain in the situation, they could easily quit the game. So you sure do have a good point.
            And also, i would not advocate to ban any of the actions the author takes. Or even call it imoral. As he is not actually hurting anybody. But i still think that it is somehow different when a pvp games enjoyment comes from tormenting other players as opposed to overcoming challenges or competitions. And such, i think it is absolutely worth commenting or discussing to make clear that this is not just another game diary like any other.

          • Premium User Badge

            bglamb says:

            Yeah, DeVader, you are completely missing the point of the game. It’s like saying people don’t play an FPS to get shot. It’s totally why people are playing it. The idea that their bullying is somehow above and beyond the game, reaching into their personal lives, is ludicrous. It’s just gameplay, and it’s what everyone is there for.

            Of all the games I’ve seen need an 18+ certificate it’s this one, for requiring to understand RolePlay.

          • The Random One says:

            “but people do not start up DayZ to be ridiculed and tormented for fun. At least so i believe.”

            Then why do they play DayZ? Attrition between players is the only thing in the game – the zombies are clearly designed to be a distraction rather than the main event, and if you are looking for zombie games there are hundreds of better options.

            I’m of the opinion that while Mr Caldwell’s actions were indeed horrible, by playing the game you are doing the equivalent of giving consent. If things get too bad for you you can always log off.

  12. Beelzebud says:

    Frankly it seems like a crappy game for people who like to be crappy to each other. I’m glad I took a pass on this during the initial hype, and I’ll be staying away from it. It’s not for me.

  13. Boosh says:

    just counter the confirmation bias for one second…I thoroughly enjoy this game, yet strangely do not engage in any of those activities, although knowing those players are out there is what makes it for me.
    I can also confirm I am a law abiding middle aged father of two with no previous history of psychopathy. I quite literally can tell the difference between a videogame, and reality.

    Interesting read, not my cup of tea, but an important side of the game.

    • Teamy says:

      The thing is, running into players and having any sort of exchange with them, good or bad (ranging from someone giving you a gun to being plain old handcuffed and shot in the head) is what makes the game colourful.

      I’ve been held hostage, fed rotten fruit/disinfectant and betrayed. I’ve also been given food, ammo and guns by total strangers.

      You need a balance of good and bad, and from my experience, most players play good, bad or somewhere in between on varying playthroughs.

      • The Random One says:

        Yeah. Mr Caldwell’s actions were shameful, but everyone playing DayZ (or rust) knows they are possible. This makes every act of good more important because it’s not being done for XP or to win a match. You gotta have the good and the bad.

  14. geldonyetich says:

    Ever since the days of Ultima Online greifing, and probably well beyond, there’s been an exchange that went something like:

    “Why did you kill me? I didn’t do anything to you.”
    “Shut up, you sniveling care bear, and go play a care bear game.”

    It goes back and forth like this for quite a bit, until all the sheep that haven’t become wolves up and leave. Then the wolves leave, because the game is no fun without sheep. Then the game dies or (as Ultima Online did) undergoes a major change that has little hope of recapturing that initial magic.

    I think the truth of the matter is that these kinds of games aren’t all that good, once you get deep enough into them. They lack a certain necessary context that allows the fun to become a reasonably self-perpetuating cycle. So players invent their own fun by tormenting other players. It’s either that, or listen to your conscience, and accept boredom.

    • jarowdowsky says:

      Seems particularly concentrated in Day Z more than other online games – because as far as I can tell from reading, there seems little in the game other than this. There’s just the boredom of a post-apocalypse and no goals at all, nothing to achieve or build towards.

      I guess because of that it appeals to a certain survivalist cruelty in some players. But then survivalist movements have always appealed to people with a certain mindset, in games or not.

    • elilupe says:

      I think the real truth is that these kinds of games…how do I put this…aren’t meant for long lives. The initial magic is what makes the game. I loved the week or so I played Dayz, and then I put it down and never played it again. The game’s strength is in being mysterious and difficult in the early-game, so once you get to the point that you know it’s ins and outs, the game’s main point has been dissolved.
      So I guess you could say that means it’s not a very good game, but I think it could be interpreted as a different kind of game.

    • Kurskovole says:

      From where I am sitting you are misunderstanding the game. I have been griefed in many a game, and it makes me quite bitter. Believe it or not, but what was described in this article wasn’t griefing, it’s why people enjoy the game, being the victim of many of these encounters can be almost as much fun as being the victimiser, because events like that have a narrative element and no one is losing anything they won’t lose eventually anyway. The people who are getting the most out of the game aren’t there to horde loot or have safe social interactions, they are out there to lose everything while meeting weird and wonderful people.

      • geldonyetich says:

        Though you may be speaking for yourself here, you don’t get to decide when another person is or is not feeling griefed, and I think the number of people who actually enjoy being victimized in these kinds of games are in the minority. Otherwise, these games would actually do well, instead of eventually petering out into having no population.

      • alw says:

        tl;dr

        “she wanted it”

    • Enkinan says:

      I’m pretty sure UO ended up with a ton of anti-griefer guilds that upheld law and order where they could.

      • geldonyetich says:

        There were a few actual anti-griefing guilds in UO, which was a pretty cool idea. They ultimately couldn’t police the servers, though. The boredom that drove people to griefing in UO made it like trying to stop a force of nature.

    • Josh W says:

      I think you’re right that it’s a kind of lifecycle – these things can start out as a weird and wonderful place, where all kinds of interesting human interactions appear, and then slowly the inevitable growth of “exercising power over others by having better kit or fighting skills” as the main endgame slowly stifles the alternatives.

      It’s probably not inevitable though. I quite like the idea of tweaking things so that for example, zombies are more inclined to go after old established players rather than new players. If you add that to the thing about guns attracting zombies, then you can make it so that old players don’t want to start fights, as they will be least able to deal with them, or perhaps have the effect of zombie rich places actually being places that new players can hide from the bandits.

      Then you have the age old problem of spawn policing, which can probably be resolved by making the spawn points run away from existing players, so that the more heavily armed players there are walking around a certain area of the beach, the less new players will spawn.

      Anyway, if you can make it so that things like this sometimes happen, but have strong corrective factors, you might be able to stop it descending completely into a game about players with kit taking advantage of new players.

      • iiiears says:

        @Josh W

        And… DayZ developers were kind enough to provide source code.

        Only rarely in real life can cruelty or injustice be remedied with a few keystrokes.

        You can create and share a bette world,

  15. altum videtur says:

    I’unno. Maybe I’m just no good at this whole “survival” thing, but I don’t hold a life so precious that I would play along with getting held up instead of coming at people with my fists and getting turned into inevitable swiss cheese.
    And in the game.

    Edit: After having read some of the comments, I’m thoroughly disturbed by people’s association of in-game behavior with real-life “sociopathy” (what even?). Is that just me? Is it normal to judge people on self-aware and semi-awful things done for fun in a completely simulated environment? Is it perhaps considered normal to drown any feelings of “cruelty” (with something this innocuous, I would rather qualify it as mischeivousness, but I dont wanan get crucified) in the repeating mantra of “I am good they are bad I am good I wouldnt do this I AM GOOD THEY ARE BAD I AM GOOD I WOULDNT DO THIS”?

    Fuck me. Maybe I’m just a sociopath.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      Perhaps there’s just been some carelessness in the use of the word “sociopathy”?

      I can’t really understand your confusion otherwise. People are judged by the way they interact with others all the time, are they not? Why should that change just because of the communication medium?

      • Lone Gunman says:

        Because killing and torturing avatars in a game is in no way the same as doping so to real life people. It only get questionable is they get abusive over the in game voice chat imo.

      • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

        The issue is not really with any real life versus game life. There was an article in PC Gamer UK quite a few years ago (I cannot remember the author) with a sentence going along the lines of; “I’m a gaming sociopath. I do everything to break the game just because I can.” The article was talking about single player games. It only becomes a problem when the gaming sociopathy enters a multiplayer game. With free reigns, that type of gamer becomes a monster and the gameplay deteriorates fast. What you’re left with when the dust settles are a handful of gaming sociopaths because everyone else just can’t be bothered with their behaviour.

        Oh, and I don’t by the roleplay argument that some people mention. I’ve played quite a lot of online games and the real roleplayers are few and far between. In my experince most people use the argument to defend dickish behaviour.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      You would have thought gamers of all people would understand that ¬¬

  16. elilupe says:

    I’d say the people hating on this article are missing some kind of point here. I don’t see this article as ‘bragging’ about being a Dayz torturer, it’s just a different perspective from the point of view of a Dayz player. All of the editorials so far about Dayz on RPS have been about the altruist way of playing. The peaceful, don’t-shoot-unless-shot-at kind of players. And this one brought the other perspective to readers: the fun, sadistic side.

    Like the author says, Dayz NEEDS people like him to keep it interesting. If it was all made of people who just wanted to be kind to each other it wouldn’t be much of a tense game, since the zombies are reasonably easy to get away from. Dayz needs people on both sides of the in-game moral scale to work like it does.

    Plus, the best stories come from the victims of these kinds of players. The people that the author and his friend held up and mugged will be telling that story to their gaming friends for a while. Again, if everyone was just nice to each other, there would be no good stories and memories.

    • Vinraith says:

      “the fun, sadistic side”

      I don’t see any fun here. I’m trying to imagine being any of the three players in that opening scenario, for example. My options are “hapless victim,” “guy who lies to newbies,” and “sniper who kills motionless, unarmed targets.” None of those roles is remotely appealing.

      • elilupe says:

        To be honest, I wouldn’t play like this either. When I play I always wait to get shot at and avoid others at all costs. There are different kinds of people.

        The appeal, though, is in actually being there. Sure, it doesn’t sound fun, and it’s no Mario Galaxy, but it has a certain tense, ugly, excitement in the simple brutality that gives it a quality altogether different from most any game I’ve ever played before.

      • The Random One says:

        I don’t know, I have quite some experience being a hapless victim. It’s fun if you do it right.

    • Premium User Badge

      DeVadder says:

      To me it is the mostly unreflected stories of sadism that makes me dislike the article as much as i do. I would not mind at all if he just went ahead and killed people for a challenge or for loot. I would still despise that in RL, but i have no problem with it happening in a game.
      The article however is not a story of selfish, un-altruistic actions, it is a story of sadistic joy in torture. He himself calls it that way. And yes, i do believe that it should be made clear through comments or a discussion, that pure sadism against other humans is somewhat different than what normally makes a game fun for most people.
      I would not want to put the author into jail or whatever, i would not even try to ‘forbid’ him to enjoy this game in the way he wants. After all, it is kind of what the game is about by now. And i sure prefer people who take their fun from tormenting other players to stay in their own game, than, i dunno, feed intentional in Dota or whatever else brings them joy.
      But i think the article deserves pointing out that it is not the way the majority of people enjoy their games.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      Completely agree. When I was first held up by bandits with my bud it was incredible. Got a real buzz. I unfortunately passed out but my mate was taken to a church where he had to fight another victim with a cooking pan, he won but then a third party came crashing in and shot everyone. Awesome stuff.

  17. jonahcutter says:

    Basically, you’re being a douche. Not that you couldn’t already do this in other games. Corpse-camping. Kill-stealing. Blocking doors. Standing on clickables. Loot ninjaing. Those kinds of things existed in games for a long time. Hell, I’ve seen high level players save lower level players from mobs to only kill the lower level player themselves.

    Go look up things like the Habbo Hotel raids 4chan used to go on. Same type of thing. Using a game to torment other players. It’s really nothing new.

    DayZ really doesn’t seem to have anything else to do. So people deathmatch and/or act like douchebags to entertain themselves.

  18. shagohad says:

    yo dawg I am not a noob but if i find some Sun Tzus art of war i pick that shit up, books are cool

  19. Vartesz says:

    Just wanted to say that I am able to distinguish between behaviour in a game that thrives on having mean people, encountering them and putting the result up on Youtube and the author’s real self.
    Nice read!

    • fatgleeson says:

      It seems most of the readers of this article are unable to realise that. I expected more of RPS, but most comments here are of Daily Mail standard

  20. bodydomelight says:

    Great article. I can see both sides of the argument that is slowly trudging forwards here. On the one hand, griefing in games not oriented towards it is shitty, wankish behaviour – the equivalent of putting your foot in front of a supermarket door and giggling inanely every time someone bashes themselves against it. On the other hand, DayZ is kind of made for griefing, yes?

    So Mr Caldwell is fulfilling an integral role within the game, and roleplaying to boot. It’s only a problem in a gaming environment where this behaviour would be impeding the gameplay of others. But here IT IS the gameplay.

    Also, the Russian interrogation sounds amazing from a roleplaying perspective, and it reads like the victim was fully immersed in it as roleplaying as well. And that is coming from someone who totally fits within the ‘carebear’ category in most multiplayer game situations.

    • The Random One says:

      I’m not sure people acting like Mr Caldwell are ‘necessary'; I do think that DayZ does have the structure to support people like him without the experience being ‘ruined’. I do think you’ve hit a key point here, that this isn’t griefing because all of the tools he’s using are programmed into the game to be used as intended. This isn’t like, say, the Habbo Hotel 4chan raids (as someone up there mentioned) where people took advantadge of the poor level design and inexplicably existing collision to stop people from going to an area. They’re not using a glitched item to hold people in place or using an exploit to force feed bleach. Those actions were coded as possiblities in the game. They’re awful people for using those possibilities, but one can’t complain about that any more than one can complain about losing their ship in nullsec in Eve. You play the game knowing the risks.

      • bodydomelight says:

        I think that calling someone awful for playing a game through using mechanisms designed into the game, which people are playing partially because of those mechanisms, is a bit much. For some it will be the actual competition element of the game, for others (like Brendan, I suspect) it is the vicarious roleplaying thrill.

        If it was genuine griefing, intentionally gaining pleasure from ruining the experience of another, that would be awful behaviour. It seems to me, as someone who hasn’t played the game (and probably won’t, because I wouldn’t enjoy it precisely because of all this) that this is one side of what it is all about. And even if it wasn’t intended that way, it has become it. I suspect largely through the emergent behaviour of the players back when it was a mod.

        I’ve met awful people in real life. They do far worse things than pretending to be a Russian bandit with someone pretending to be a Scottish bandit victim.

  21. QbertEnhanced says:

    Some real bleeding hearts in here.
    This is a game. The fun is in disproportionate power, not psychopathy.
    Like mucking about with super powers in Saint’s Row is fun the same way as taking your fully geared out character newbie hunting. Like taking out a giant in Shadow of the Colossus is fun the same way as surviving a tense standoff with much better equipped players.
    Those trying to read into “Human Nature” are over thinking it, and it reminds me awfully of the censorship drives you see in the media equating video game violence to gun violence. There are co-op games for those of you insisting on happy fun times, go play Lego Marvel Heroes or whatever doesn’t offend your sensibilities, but please don’t go categorising anyone who would prefer something a little more grim than your sunshine and rainbows as sociopaths.

    • thatoneguy11 says:

      most of these “bleeding hearts” say they havnt and wont play the game…..its like saying you hate chinese food but have never eaten it. i guarantee the people this happens to dont start crying and never play the game again. they probably laugh their ass off and simply try again.

    • chris1479 says:

      QbertEnhanced: Thank God someone around here can look at this for what it is and with a level head. Perusing the comments here is a lot like reading Daily Mail comments, various people shrieking about how it’ll make their kids evil, about how it exposes the darkness of the human soul. Frankly the comments on this are, with some honourable exceptions, totally childish and ironically quite detached from reality – and especially detached from the reality of what evil is in the real world.

      If they’d seen a few people getting their heads cut off in Aleppo, women having babies cut out of the womb, teenagers getting their faces torn off by mortar shell, then maybe they’d have the tiniest inkling of what evil looks like in real life. And here’s a tip: It does not involve people sitting in their pants pretending to stuff rotten bananas in each other’s mouthes.

      In fact it is the pathetic gnashing and wailing pseudo morality and shrieking violets here who disturb me, not the article at all, and for the most part not Day Z either. The fact that people are douchebags gives me ample reason to find them and get my own back and have fun while I’m doing it.

      The people calling this evil do not know what evil is. If they think Day Z is evil I would invite them to read the newspapers or visit the suicide bomber schools of Afghanistan. Actually even just talking about it annoys me, such people need to get a life and put a sock in it until they’ve grown up and matured enough to take Day Z for what it is.

      • Josh W says:

        You’re not really doing much for that side of the argument; those people who see it as evil are not thinking about evil as a kind of magnitude.

        It’s not that people look at mass murder and go “ah you know what, that was over the line, that’s actually evil”.

        Morality is not a killstreak table for socially unacceptable acts.

        And anyway, are you suggesting that you have a higher threshold for deciding that things are evil, and that is a good quality?

        • QbertEnhanced says:

          I feel like he’s making a distinction between virtual actions and real ones, an important one.

          • chris1479 says:

            That’s exactly what I’m doing. People in the UK and in the West in general have the *luxury* of pontificating on the ‘darkness of the human soul’ in their discussions of Day Z whilst having no grasp of the reality of the concept.

          • Josh W says:

            Oh, my problem is not with the idea that actions in and on a computer simulation are different from actions committed in person. The problem is the “you can’t handle the truth” attempt at drama-one-upmenship.

            “You talk about evil, I’ll show you evil…. Hurricanes controlled by weather machines, people eating other people’s feet”.

            It’s just childish.

            And what I tried to point out is that it doesn’t actually make sense, if you’re going to think about ethical behaviour in an even vaguely sensible way, it reaches all the way from the big stuff to little displays of disrespecting other’s personhood. Genocide doesn’t invalidate barging blind people, and so on. The actual argument used then is a nonsense one.

            But seen as you’ve said something that puts the emphasis in the right place, I agree, that unlike people calling out abuse on online shooters, this is something cooperatively enacted by people; there’s an extent to which the cruelty inflicted depends on people’s capacity to put themselves into the shoes of a character that they may have been only playing for a few hours. The cruelty is towards the character, in the world, and the extent to which it is cruel to the player depends on how much they invest in them. In other games with long levelling chains, that investment could be significant, hours of dedicated work down the drain, then it would be properly harsh, although that is tempered again by the extent to which it is a part of the experience people expect.

            If you look at people being racist through games, it’s a different matter, in those cases the game is just a connection point, a vehicle to attack the player. You might say that it’s not a virtual action, whereas beating someone’s character in the game is.

            Now I personally think that the problem is more in the “it’s just part of the game” than in the specific acts of vaguely amusing fake brutality, because I’m familiar with the good old banality of evil, “just being practical”/”just doing what I was told” defence, and I like it when virtual worlds don’t just go down to the common denominator of dominative coercion.

            But practically, what people do in their free time in their pants can be authentically evil, if they are using games to repeatedly victimise people and stalk them by their steam ID or whatever else. So bringing in the idea that genocide nullifies game playing misanthropy is a poor contribution, whatever else is going on in the conversation.

  22. Fox89 says:

    I’m not sure it’s fair to really call Brendan out for being a dick here. DayZ is not and has never been a co-op game about fighting zombies, so I don’t count what he writes about here as griefing. He’s playing the game a certain way and finding fun in it, and creating fun for other people as well. While the victims surely don’t like getting murdered, for the most part, sounds like a lot of them will be coming away with stories of their own to tell. The person who survived the Russian Incident probably had a great time telling his mates about it afterwards.

    You buy into this dynamic when you buy the game. DayZ is something you get because you LIKE the idea of other players being dicks. Surviving in a dangerous world with dangerous players, forging alliances, daring escapes and unfortunate demises… it’s all part of the experience. Games like this would be so boring is everyone played nice, and if you’re a ‘victim’ it’s much more satisfying to come away with an interesting story than a random bullet from afar.

    I hope as the game develops and gets more features, we’ll start to see players finding new ways to survive against this sort of behaviour; maybe by fortifying a town and declaring it a ‘safe zone’ – play nice here or face the wrath of the masses. At the moment everything seems to be based around individuals and tiny groups in little skirmishes, but it would be absolutely fascinating to see these dynamics of trust and player agency at work on a larger scale.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Seems like you’re projecting – heavily, I might add – onto the rest of us as to how we should enjoy DayZ. It also reads like you’re splitting the fanbase of DayZ into two camps: those who enjoy being bullies, and those who enjoy getting bullied.

      Not everyone in DayZ’s player population has to be a victim or a victimizer. And yeah, Branden was being a dick, and now he’s rightfully getting called out on it — do you honestly think he wrote the article with praise for his behavior in mind?

      • Fox89 says:

        That was not my intent. It is not *ONLY* a co-op game about fighting zombies, is what I should have said. It can of course be just that if you want it to be. That said, I still don’t think anything here counts as bullying any more than ruthlessly checkmating you in a game of chess is.

        It’s part and parcel of the game you buy into. If you don’t like that aspect of the game well…fine, to each their own. But it’s not fair to criticise somebody who does.

        Now if he was continually hunting down somebody who had no interest of playing along, and was genuinely and persistently ruining their good time, that is bullying.

        • thatoneguy11 says:

          bullying haha get real….bottom line- its a survivor game and the people that got “tortured” put themselves in the situation just as much as the people doing the torturing. they failed to asses the danger and went along with the torture….they most definitely should have fought back instead of lying down and letting someone torture them.

      • The Random One says:

        It’s not so much that part of the game should enjoy being bullied, as much that they should enjoy fighting against the bullies. Of course sometimes it won’t work and the bullies will get the upper hand, just like jerks sometimes win in real life. But if you’re not into that, why are you playing DayZ at all? That’s like playing Team Fortress and complaining that you don’t like to shoot other people. It’s OK if you don’t like it, but it means the game is just not for you.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          “But if you’re not into that, why are you playing DayZ at all?”

          It’s entirely possible to traipse through DayZ for weeks on end without running into another survivor, you know. There are other ways to play it.

          • thatoneguy11 says:

            i know these “white knights” seem to not understand the game…..they fail to understand that there are hotspots where player activity is high and “bad” things happen because everyone is on edge. ive herd people say its not about survival- uhhh, run up north by yourself with little food and water and trust me it turns into survival really quick

  23. Dickless says:

    You religious conservative straw drinking liberals and over sensitive individuals – cool down please.
    Article is satiric in nature.

    It was written very well, and is a good read, consider this literature. If you , say, can’t handle S.King writing, watch a Disney cartoon.

    Author shows how game really is, his explicit detail is what it is. What article doesn’t show, is that there are many acts of kindness and bondage and comradeship in the game that outweighs the grim survival pretext.

    It actually is, how humanity is for reals.

    • tk421242 says:

      I am not being critical of the article at all. I am being critical of what the entire point of the game seems to be. Does Day Z plan to implement anything more persistent like base building or even fortification of an existing building? People say it is an experiment to see how people will behave without rules but I have to think that eventually groups of people would join together and settle on a base of operations. Right now it is just an endless roaming game with nothing more to it then killing players.

      • Dickless says:

        It is a beta. And I understand your point. Eventually it is a raw experiment of human psychology, and I am sure they will introduce new mechanics to make it not just about hunting humans ’cause there is nothing else to do.

        Other than that, suck it in people, it’s a good game, dark but nice article, and a lots of hope for the future of the game. There is just nothing like it.

        • HadToLogin says:

          I wanted to write you shouldn’t hope for it, but then they already have their early access money, so they can totally change rules and laugh at people who paid them and are unhappy with result while getting money from people who will get interested with new DayZ, without PvP, just hordes of Zombies attacking bases at nights :).

          Yes, I know they won’t do that. But it would be funny.

        • jonahcutter says:

          See I don’t think it’s any kind of experiment in human psychology. I think that is reading a hell of a lot more into the design than actually probably ever existed. Now after the fact claiming those intentions were there all along might well be going on… ;)

          I have zero problem with the author griefing others in the game. That’s all there is to do in it. He’s right, if people didn’t grief and deathmatch there’d be literally nothing to actually do in the game.

          If DayZ does anything special, it allows the griefing, deathmatching and roleplaying playstyles to actually work in concert. But I doubt that was by intention. I think it’s just a lucky accident. And I don’t think it shows anything about human nature that wasn’t already on display in any number of other games.

    • Dave Tosser says:

      Careful there, buddy! You seem to have lumped all your least favourite groups of people together to form one hypothetical sort of person unto whom all your irrational hatred can be thrown against! That’s just silly.

      I mean, have you ever met any- what was it? Oh, yes -“religious conservative straw drinking liberals”? I can’t say that’s a combination of ideologies that fit together well. Might have something to do with “religious conservative” and “straw-drinking liberal” being at the opposite ends of the fucking spectrum. Come on, now. Learn to disagree with things without being insulting and projecting all the chips on your shoulders like you’ve stuffed a bag of McCain Oven Chips into a tennis ball machine.

      RE:the article. Whilst I don’t think taking pleasure in other people’s pain is an inherently bad thing to take with you into DayZ, it’s probably not the sort of thing you should tell the whole internet you feel.

  24. SkittleDiddler says:

    If I ever run into Mr. Caldwell in DayZ, hopefully the last thing he sees from me will be my middle finger.

    If victims in this game worried less about the precious items they are carrying than standing up to the assholes, the assholes wouldn’t stick around for very long

    • Carcer says:

      When the bullies have assault rifles and the victims are armed with fists and flashlights I am not really sure how you expect them to effectively stand up to their oppressors. By the very nature of the game it’s not like they can co-ordinate to overwhelm them with numbers.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Part of the satisfaction in pushing people around is getting them to do what you want. Bullies get turned on by helplessness, in other words. If more players stood up to those types by saying “Fuck off, you can kill me and take my shit if you want, but you won’t get me to eat rotten bananas or run around naked like a loon”, psychological reward is often quashed for the aggressor.

        Besides, it’s not like any of the items in DayZ are that hard to find. I’d rather look forward to spending a few hours restocking with a new character than capitulate to a sadist with a clown mask and a gun.

        • Vinraith says:

          The game seems to badly need the ability to explosively suicide. If people sometimes blew up, destroying all the stuff they had on them and potentially killing their assailant as well, I wonder how the dynamics would shift.

  25. Random Integer says:

    People are almost always exactly as awful as their circumstances allow them to be. Games simply allow a temporary redefinition of those circumstances.

    • Dave Tosser says:

      Is it that we’re all cruel, terrible people inside, but for most of us this only comes to light when presented with a consequence-free environment? When we play bastards in video games, is it merely a reflection of the darkness of in our hearts? Is Lord of the Flies a how-to manual rather than a warning? Was Žižek right? Should we all be playing EVE?

      • Random Integer says:

        I’m pretty sure making people play EVE would count as real life torture, its boring as feck.

      • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

        Lord of the Flies is about a group of children without guidance and what happens when society collapses. I have no doubt things could go very wrong very fast when it comes to children left to their own devices. I work with children for a living and I see signs every day of a very primitive “justice”. “It’s my car and I can punch that boy in the face if he tries to take it.” I do, however, have doubts the same would happen with a group of adults in real life. With Day Z it seems adults are turning into children because it’s just a game. Mr. Caldwell’s article is well written, but the behaviour he displays in-game is extremely immature.

        • joa says:

          That doesn’t really work though. You’re talking about taking a group of adults raised in society and putting them in that situation. However if you take people from birth and put them in a lawless environment then as adults they may well be quite barbaric. Humans like to display there status over others. It’s part of our survival mechanism. If we are unable to do that through money, success and other indicators of status, we will do it through violent means.

        • fatgleeson says:

          “because it’s just a game”

          Hit the nail on the head.

  26. Invasian says:

    Hey Caldwell,

    This is not a hate note & yes, You told a great story!

    I do agree, Dayz is indeed a cruel world.

    I’ve learned from the countless times I’ve died trying to survive in the game from all danger and Hyenas like you when I first started. But it all added quick and I soon realized the DayZ world isn’t a nice world. It never was. It’s a dog eat dog world, yes cruel in every way possible.

    Flying solo & collecting gear from elek to cherno >> From SWAF balota to NWAF >> from Grishno to NEAF >> From Guba to electro again, It’s been 4 weeks and I haven’t died yet on the heavily populated servers. I’ve roamed every part of Chernarus from coast to coast & corner to corner.

    When I saw the weak, I made sure to aid them, help them, and guide them correctly to make sure they survive as long as they can. Of course KOS is easy, so why not interact with people, call trades, help each other like IRL? — This is the Best part of the game*

    But when I see hyenas and tyrants like you torturing people along the coast, Air fields, vast plains, and cities, I make sure to bring the end to the evil and tyranny. I’ve killed countless hyenas that torture bambis and it feels good to be a hero. I don’t torture hyenas. I end them quick.

    Four weeks into the game with long hours on record helping other survivors, I haven’t died yet. It feels great to be a hero.

    – But pitiful survivors like you and your buddies only live to torture bambis that spawn fresh from the eastern and south coasts or whoever that walks by, it’s quite disgusting that you continue to do this although you feel bad afterwards. No true human moral what so ever.

    For all the lives you’ve taken and tortured, rest assured, your head is next on my list.

    Look out for a name on the player’s list : Invasian

    **Note: this is not a hate note. It’s just a post to your story to let you know that someone is going to hunt for you in Chernarus.

    Best of luck to you Caldwell.

    -Invasian

    • Brendy_C says:

      *squints at note, crumples it up*

      Good… I’ve always wanted a bounty on my head.

      *spits, picks up rifle, walks into distance*

    • Feet says:

      This guy gets it. Most of the rest of you appear to have completely missed the point.

    • Faxanadu says:

      But that’s not justice. Eye for an eye! You SHOULD torture them back. But can you even do that in DayZ? Can you disarm others and make ‘em suffer for what they’ve done? That’s my only peeve when it comes to griefing. That you can’t have your vengeance.

      Caldwell is a dick. Everyone is a dick to some degree, Caldwell is dick enough to be called a dick. All that’s rather natural – dicks and carebears both get eliminated in the evolutionary process. Reasonable people thrive. What pisses me off, is that in games you often can’t get back at people for being dicks.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Rizlar says:

    As much as I can appreciate the sentiment that this article is too unpleasant, thanks so much for writing it! The Saline Bandit series was a great story about strangers banding together against the unknown and trying to make the game world a better place (with saline). So it’s absolutely fitting to read this contrasting article, the story of how a small group of people became sociopathic bastards.

    It’s worth recognising that both types of player exist in this one game. And the insight into the mind of the bastard is fascinating, all the more so for the fact that many people wouldn’t want to give an honest account of these kinds of socially unacceptable acts.

    Cheers Brendan!

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      Seconded! I love reading things like this that come from a point of view seemingly opposite myself. I can’t ever really approve of the actions (some extra credit may be available for acts of cartoonish supervillainy) but it’s almost always intriguing to see the lines of thought that lead there.

    • joa says:

      Interesting (or perhaps obvious) that the feminine side of this is one mostly of kindness, while the masculine is more brutal.

    • Enkinan says:

      I was going to post this exactly, well said.

  28. Bartack says:

    I didn’t know Brendan Caldwell was 12 years old.

    DayZ needs vigilantes to hunt and troll cockweasels like him and his pathetic posse.

    • bterry says:

      It is interesting that stories like this bring out so much anger in some people. As a long time, mostly carebear, Eve player I dunno. I knew what I was signing up for. Day Z seems like a similar game in that respect. The reason I care about anything at all in Eve is that there are stakes. Those stakes are sometimes provided by people who act like real jerks. Sometimes you are forced into a situation where you have to swallow your pride and you are left with no recourse. You learn to keep your cool and not lose your stuff to people who are goading you into making some ego-driven mistake like a fool. If you can manage to provide some comeuppance… boy does it feel great. While I don’t think every MMO needs to be Eve in this regard, I hope there is always a place for games like this and that people recognize that it is a style of game people enjoy engaging in and aren’t thereby sociopaths or whatnot.

  29. Hatonastick says:

    This is why I now regret buying the Day Z stand-alone release. Was stupid really. I already knew what the game play was like as I’d spent a fair amount of time in the mod but I was ever optimistic that it might turn into a game where co-operation might become important, but it hasn’t and now I realise it never will. So what have we got? Well, we all know the answer to that question. Day Z isn’t a zombie apocalypse survival game, it’s a PvP game for sociopaths and psychopaths. Zombies are purely window dressing. What I had hoped was that Day Z would become a sort of multi-player version of State of Decay, where zombies are lethal enough that it would force a certain amount of co-operation even if it didn’t stop PvP completely. As it currently stands in Day Z there’s no incentive to co-operate with fellow players outside of your own little murderous group. As a result I find myself pinning my hopes on games like Project Zomboid for my multi-player co-operative zombie apocalypse experience instead.

    Somewhere along the lines the concept of zombie apocalypse survival has gotten lost. This isn’t a survival game. It has the trappings of one, mechanics of one, but at its core it’s still just ARMA-based PvP shooter. It really is just Call of Duty (or Battlefield or any such similar game where the main goal is to kill people) with zombies on the side. Most survival scenario games you don’t have the time or energy to wander around the countryside randomly shooting other people through the head. It just doesn’t match up with real survival situations or human nature. Ever been in a real life survival situation where the shit hits the fan? Trust me when I tell you people in those situations, more often than not, band together. What they don’t tend to do wander around and randomly kill each other just for the hell of it (well, most of the time, there’s always exceptions to the rule). That’s when you see incredible stories made.

    Now why am I talking about a computer game this way? Well, simply because Day Z is supposed to be a game about survival in a zombie apocalypse and yet it isn’t really about survival. Sure, to start with some pretty neat stories came out of the game. Ones that mirrored, in some ways, true life stories about the survival of people in dire circumstances. However those days are pretty much gone. Now what I tend to hear, and have experienced many times over myself, is random senseless violence. The stories coming out of the game are no longer survival orientated, they are purely PvP orientated. Now that’s not a bad thing if that is what you expect when you go into a game, say in Call of Duty or Battlefield for example, but something like Day Z I expected more out of it than that — and I know I’m not alone in that.

    Note: While I’m talking about “survival” I am of course aware that some people who read this would be thinking that classic PvP shooters have stories of survival too, but that’s not the type of survival I’m talking about here, nor is it the type of survival I expected Day Z to originally be about. So in the end, my real issue with the game is probably that my expectations didn’t end up matching the game play I thought had been promised.

    • varangian says:

      >Somewhere along the lines the concept of zombie apocalypse survival has gotten lost.

      Yep, oddly enough The Walking Dead (TV variant, though I imagine the comic works similarly) for all its faults does a fair job of showing how people might be forced to behave in ways that are against their natural inclinations when confronted with a terrible situation. So nice Carol kills in cold blood to try to stop a plague spreading, redneck bully Merle takes a run at the Governor to try to fix the result of his heinous actions when working for him. Most recently Glenn teamed up with one of the people who’d attacked and destroyed his base and got some of his people killed. I think the line was ‘I don’t want your help but I need it’. Not much opportunity for any of that in DayZ.

  30. Romeric says:

    A lot of these comments are more concerning than anything in the article. You forget that all these stories have come from a video game. It is this sort of ‘shock horror’ reaction that is so damaging the industry. If a party possessing rights to censor video games catches wind of this, DayZ will be the first of many to fall. Besides, is this really any worse than killing 100 people in 15 minutes on Call of Duty?

    All video games do is let us fulfill our less-attractive human traits in a safe setting. And I’d rather that than anything in real life – that actually matters. Sounds like a lot of fun – I’m sure given 40 hours in DayZ, I would become a psychopath, too!

    • DatonKallandor says:

      “Besides, is this really any worse than killing 100 people in 15 minutes on Call of Duty?”
      Yes it is. First of all those people aren’t real people, while the people driving the avatars in DayZ are. Also you don’t torture people in CoD generally, and when you do it’s because the game is scripted that way, not because people do it themselves just because they can for no reward.

      • Rian Snuff says:

        You’re insane.

      • thatoneguy11 says:

        you obviously havnt played day z…..no one who plays takes their character seriously like a wow character or something. everyone is well aware that your “shelf life” in this game is very short……and again the people getting tortured put themselves in that situation just as much as the torturers and failed to survive.

    • Premium User Badge

      bglamb says:

      Well said Romeric. Reading this comments thread has been like reading a Daily Mail comment thread for GTA. Apparently DayZ is breaking new ground in blurring the line between game/reality. So many people seem to be taking the *in-game* actions to be *real-life* bullying/sadism.

  31. Distec says:

    Well, I’d say I’ve been thoroughly put off the game. Nothing against Mr. Caldwell. I’m sure he’s a fine lad with his head on straight when out in the physical world. But the kind of behavior described here just seemed… not fun. I wouldn’t engage in it and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of it.

    I’ve never played DayZ, so my opinion is totally unqualified. I know there is probably more to the game than what the publicity would paint, but man. This is pretty much all the publicity it gets, it would seem. The game/mod seemed more interesting earlier on when players were still figuring things out and being a bandit seemed less of a game mode unto itself. I can understand the morally dubious actions of groups and individuals when their life is on the line, even if you’re just hoarding valuables for the long run. But I have a hard time imagining a wasteland where gangs of people just roam around and dick with survivors for teh lulz. A few, surely. But this seems rampant.

    Of course, if I say that, the obvious answer is to keenly avoid those players. Which, to be an effective rule, usually means avoiding everybody. I’ll bet a lot of players have fun doing just that, but that would sadden me a bit. I feel like I’d need to see more avenues for player cooperation if I were to ever consider playing, although I currently fail to think of anything. I don’t mean incentives necessarily, but …. blegh. EVE is also considered a strong contender for the “Sociopath Simulator” title. And yet despite all the stories of corporate sabotage, newbie ganks, and thousands of dollars lost, EVE is also an amazing model of player cooperation. Fleets of hundreds of people, alliances made of thousands working towards a larger goal, teaching corporations, mining operations, etc… I can put up with the ugly in a sandbox when it offers so much more. Less so if the sandbox just generates ugly permutations of being molested by online strangers.

    Not saying DayZ is in any way a bad game or that there is anything wrong with its players. More power to you guys. Not for me, I guess.

    • GardenOfSun says:

      I completely agree. Someone has got to bring these points up as deep criticism of the game design itself.

  32. Grey_Ghost says:

    I really don’t like this article… It’s certainly made me less interested in DayZ in the short term.

    • Arglebargle says:

      That’s pretty much my response as well. Lots less likely to buy in.

      DayZ is an interesting expirement, but since they don’t model in much about cooperation, there’s a lot less of it.

  33. Rian Snuff says:

    I hope you now see how you’ve shaped the type of people you’ll find here RPS.
    A bunch of fucking mental half-wit lunatic cry babies bitching about everything.

    I’ve laughed my ass off lately reading comments here and there..
    Really depressing. Almost would feel sorry for you if you didn’t dig your own grave.

    Enjoy.

    • joa says:

      Indeed. It’s like those on here have been castrated by a modern morality – so depiction of more base human desires is pretty scary to them. They realise that without society and the rule of law, they would get fucked over.

      • Cruzer says:

        “so depiction of more base human desires is pretty scary to them. They realise that without society and the rule of law, they would get fucked over.”

        So your base desire is to torture people? I’m afraid you might be in the minority. You can repeat “it’s only a game” ad nauseam, if that makes you feel better about your shocking lack of empathy or compassion. Frankly, if you enjoy torturing and bullying people, whether it be in person or an in-game avatar which has a real person on the other side, whether it be threatening messages on social media, forums, whatever, there is probably something wrong with you emotionally and I hope you get help.

      • Coinfish says:

        It’s called psychopathy, not base desires. What a sorry sight these two.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        They realise that without society and the rule of law, they would get f’d over.

        That’s what society and the rule of law are for.

        “Oh, what a bunch of crybabies! They realise that without air they’d suffocate!”

    • Premium User Badge

      puppybeard says:

      Hilariously sanctimonious for someone decrying the morality police.

  34. satan says:

    “There is an obvious evolution to the long-term DayZ player. From the outside, and even sometimes from within, it seems like tormenting fresh spawns and holding people up for their shoes is a kind of ‘endgame’.”

    Well… yeah it is the endgame.

    You can still have fun in Rust exploring and building on non pvp servers, provided you build your house/shack well away from anywhere populated, the endgame on non pvp servers is heavily armed squads going door to door (regardless of the size of the house/shack) and blasting their way in to rob it and kill the occupant(s).

  35. Universal Quitter says:

    I love how many people STILL talk about this game as if it isn’t an Alpha! Remember when Minecraft was an Alpha with no endgame and a huge memory leak?

    Anyway, books in DayZ have the entire text of their real-life counterparts, and have to be accessed from the hotbar. You can’t just drag it into your hands in the inventory.

    Now, books might not serve any PRACTICAL purpose in DayZ, but there are these things called “flavor” and “fun.”

  36. racccoon says:

    Unfortunately for the author of this post its a bit like what you do on Facebook if you open your mouth up too much people read other thing they never knew about you, It seems to me you really are a sadistic bastard and need to be put down.

  37. teije says:

    Weird article and some pretty hilarious obtuse comments on it. Was hard to tell if the author was boasting or apologizing for being a torturing bully. Should really make up his mind in order to more effectively roleplay being an ass.

  38. Jinoru says:

    The game’s only 20% done folks. Just wait til the Zombies get fixed!

  39. Stargazer86 says:

    The current version of DayZ isn’t so much about surviving a zombie apocalypse as it is PvP with a splash of griefing thrown in. At least in the mod, you had the zombies to contend with, something that that stand-alone version currently does not have. Without zombies to shoot and avoid, desperately attempting to creep and crawl your way past them, it leads to players running around freely collecting military gear and then getting bored.

    Not to mention that military gear is way to easy to acquire. Not only are there no zombies, but it seems like army surplus assault rifles are more common than water bottles. Pistols seem to be almost non-existent, which means bored players are now running around with the equivalent of AK’s. I know the game is only in alpha at the moment, but it just leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. It’s supposed to be about survival but instead it’s turned into TF2.

  40. Enkinan says:

    It’s a sandbox game. We heard the good guy story a week or two ago, this is the dickhead side of the story.

    Not sure what the big deal is.

    My only question is do you need any skill to actually put up a fight?

  41. Premium User Badge

    blind_boy_grunt says:

    that was a rather uncomfortable read. I get that it’s a game, people can just log off if they are bored of 15 minutes of verbal abuse, but still… uff. How big is the step from this to actual bullying, in fact it’s a weird mixture of real world and internet bullying.
    To be honest i just don’t get why you pester new players who have nothing to loose, or from whom you have nothing to gain?
    At the end of the arcticle i was longing for some catharsis, a former bullied player who got his friends to take revenge or a stray bullet taking you out or anything. But it just went on.
    Really great article.

  42. Turkey says:

    Man dies from broken virtual legs in torture porn simulator. “When they forced my avatar to eat a rotten apple, I was so stunned I couldn’t find the escape key.” ToAstMan095 explains.

  43. Haplo says:

    So… This is a thing. At the very least you can’t say the article isn’t thought-provoking.

    Honestly, it’s entirely possible to cultivate two separate yet not at all exclusive viewpoints on this.

    First and foremost, it’s sensible to keep in mind that at the end of it all, despite the actions seen in the post, no one was actually hurt. No legs were actually broken or people shot, and ultimately without that element, it doesn’t reflect much on Mr. Caldwell. At least, not anymore than an author who writes a particularly sadistic villain does. Having awareness of cruelty and sadism and being able to mimic it in a fictional environment isn’t really enough to make any judgements.

    However.

    There’s the other viewpoint, and this isn’t at all exclusive- it’s possible to (like I am) have both at the same time. Simply put, this… Is disturbing stuff to read. It just is. It hooks into something in me- something in a fair few people here- and brings up a sense of revulsion, of horror. It’s provocative and its evocative, and it’s almost certainly intended to be. Reacting to this by thinking ‘This is uncomfortable’ or ‘I’m disturbed by this’ isn’t at all a wrong-headed reaction. It’s a pretty natural response to a work of writing intended to invoke an emotional reaction.

    Ultimately my opinion is this: sure, it’s disturbing stuff. And it’s allowed to be. You can completely kill the tension or provocative nature of any work by constantly chanting to yourself under your breath “It’s only a movie”, “It’s only a book”, “it’s not real”, so on and so forth, but that’s not the point. The point is to be hooked in by that provocative nature and to experience that emotion. And in turn, by writing a piece on his actions in a fictional setting, Mr. Caldwell hasn’t really done anything except write an article that reflects really well on his skill as a writer.

  44. RawkMode says:

    Everyone is missing the point.

    Whether by intentional design or not, the game does something that no other game (that I am aware of at least,) has ever done. Every player has essentially the same experiences, regardless of where they start, how they travel the map, where they die, or from what. No matter how individual the story is for any player, what route they take, what their intentions are, or at what point they turn to murder….or away from it…the experience is a shared one.

    Everyone who plays understands why you don’t wear pants in Electro, and they know what being handcuffed and force fed is all about, and why to avoid it. They know the loneliness of being stuck somewhere dangerous with a broken leg and no help in sight, and the fear that settles right between your shoulder blades as you go dashing across an empty field. They know the frustration of finding nothing but empty buildings when you’re starving, and that moment of stunned, disbelieving anguish when confronted with the sudden black screen of death. They know the relief of parting ways with a player who claimed to be friendly, and for once, actually was.

    There is no skill tree. There is no narrative. There are no NPC mission givers. There is no spamming your spells/abilities/attacks rotation hot key bar. No raids. No vendors. No vanity gear.

    Just shared fear. Shared murder. Shared survival. Shared pain.

    It’s not an injustice engine…it’s an empathy machine.

    Before you respond and tell me how stupid that sounds, stop for a moment and ask yourself, when was the last time that you shared the exact same fear, pain, uncertainty, and desperation with…anyone?

    DayZ Standalone lets you share with a million other people, almost all of them strangers.

    It’s an empathy machine…and that’s why, no matter how many horror stories it produces, people just can’t stop playing.

    Try it for yourself, and you’ll see.

  45. Stevostin says:

    In a french PC gaming publishing (Canard PC), one tester is making a two pages account of his own DayZ story. Playing a lone, perfectly geared and bored, he found his joy when he decided to become a hunter and kill people who diserves it. Which in his french mind translates to “brits”.

    I thought he was a bastard but I now hope he find you. Apparently he was right after all.

  46. Premium User Badge

    PikaBot says:

    The amount of pearl-clutching in the comments is, if not surprising, at least disappointing Surely we’ve all played enough video games to understand that there’s nothing unhealthy or even unusual in enjoying a bit of simulated violence or cruelty? We’ve all experienced that moment of being unable to resist pushing the friendly guard off a cliff in Assassin’s Creed, or deliberately luring the NPC you’re supposed to be escorting into a grisly fate out of frustration. or gotten so impatient with our Portal 2 co-op partner that we’ve deliberately lobbed them into a pit of electric sludge. Or smacking the shit out of our Creature in Black & White to see how it reacts. So don’t be getting all self-righteous about it.

    To morally defend Brendan’s behavior here – something I’m a bit astonished is even necessary – I would remind you that everyone involved are sitting comfortably (you know, or not, but if they aren’t that’s on them) behind a computer screen. All violence and theft is purely simulated, and does not deprive anyone of their rightful health or property.

    And, yes, griefing (which is generally recognized as a Dick Move) meets that description as well, but there is an important difference between them. In griefing, although the one directly affected is a virtual actor, the goal is to indirectly affect the actual player by ruining their gaming experience. They came to do quests or capture points or get frags, and you are preventing them from do so.

    Side note: Personally, I can still have some respect for griefing as an activity if it’s actually funny and creative. Corpse-camping new players in the WoW starting zone is not this; glitching your way into the spawn room door and forcing your teammates to answer a trivia quiz in order to leave does. it doesn’t make it any less of a Dick Move, though.

    Brendan’s behavior here, however, does not ruin anybody’s game experience. This sort of behavior is the gameplay experience. Nobody plays DayZ on the assumption that encounters with other players will be safe and that they will be treated with respect. It’s a Bastard Simulator; part of the appeal is that it’s full of bastards.

    And yes, it necessarily has to be. We all love reading about the Saline Bandits and Dr. Wastelands of the world, and God bless them, but would they be noteworthy or interesting if everyone roaming the wastelands of Chernarus were like them? A hero needs a villain. A story of survival isn’t worth anything unless there’s something to survive. being that villain doesn’t mean Brendan is a bad person; it means that he’s choosing to play a bad person.

    A lot of you have derided Brendan’s statement that the game needs people like him (and, I think, are reading it as if it was spoken much more uncritically than it was), but the truth – although you may find it uncomfortable – is that it’s correct. To inspire great heights of emotions you must also depict the greatest depths. And if there’s one thing DayZ is capable of, it’s inspiring a whole fascinating range of emotions.

    • iiiears says:

      PikaBot you nailed it.

      Brendan’s behavior here, however, does not ruin anybody’s game experience. This sort of behavior is the gameplay experience. Nobody plays DayZ on the assumption that encounters with other players will be safe and that they will be treated with respect. It’s a Bastard Simulator; part of the appeal is that it’s full of bastards.

      If you love a game enough to play hundreds or thousands of hours and find a glitch the rest of the day has a golden glow.
      For a short time you know something no one else does, The developer ‘gods’ will erase your “super power” and (sigh) you will be like like everyone.

      Every game rewards experience. Glitches are a reward, a guarded secret shared with friends, a chance to be creative, gain insight about human nature, the technology.

      I agree when players identify the game as a “Bastard simulator” a change is due. Seeking fairness is why we clicked on “DayZ an injustice engine”

  47. Coinfish says:

    That was a disgusting read. ‘Heh, that newbie who was nice was so naive, serves him right. Imma post this on rps.’. But I hope that encourages other psycho and griefers, douchers, to get into dayz and enjoy these virtual torture, power plays and exerting grievances.

    This is my first post after reading rps as non-registered for 2 years. I hope the author gets help, or get stopped. I wish rps has blacklist..maybe it has?

  48. Lobotomist says:

    I dont know even what to say. A torture simulator being top game on Steam.

    You can say what you want ,
    but there is something deeply disturbing that so many want to play virtual sadistic torturer. End even with greater zeal knowing real person is on other side being virtually tortured.

    Homo-sapiens you are shit.

    • Boosh says:

      “So many”?
      What makes this game so utterly compelling and fascinating is in the interaction, and that means you simply have no idea what you’re going to get from someone you encounter in DayZ. In my experience it will range fairly randomly between the completely weird, the beautiful, through to the psychopaths. There is no bias towards rampaging brutality, I accept it all as it comes.

      The vast majority of pvp games you know what you’re going to get: shot in the face. In DayZ you have always got a chance, it’s hope that drives you and makes the game what it is.

      All of those ‘victims’ could run away at any point, fight back even with fists, spam the space-bar to break free from hand-cuffs, or hit escape and log-off. They’re actual willing participants in a game.

  49. FriedrichSchritt says:

    A very intresting read! And thanks to you and Adam for shouldering the burden of being the torturers!

  50. tellrov says:

    Everyone here is really exaggerating. These are a bunch of people playing a video game. If one guy says “take off your shoes”, the only thing the guy on the receiving end does is click a few mouseclicks, maybe thinks “well this sucks”, and moves on.

    To even begin to link this to ACTUAL torture or emotional trauma, or imagining the guy getting killed is sitting in a cornor rocking back and forth is further proof of the general pandering in the video game industry, where the slightest thing that could maybe for one person be offensive is enough to tear it to pieces in another holier-than-thou circlejerk. I liked this article because it was about a person playing a video game, which is ultimately why I still like the hobby.