I Am Become Death, Destroyer Of Virtual Worlds
I was going to save this for the Sunday Papers next week, but after Jim and I have a chat, I figure it deserves to talked about all on its lonesome. Julian Dibbell writes an extensive piece for Wired on Griefing, the communities that support it and similar malarkies.
"Pwnage, zerging, phat lewts — online gaming has birthed a rich lexicon. But none, perhaps, deserves our attention as much as the notion of the griefer. Broadly speaking, a griefer is an online version of the spoilsport — someone who takes pleasure in shattering the world of play itself. Not that griefers don't like online games. It's just that what they most enjoy about those games is making other players not enjoy them. They are corpse campers, noob baiters, kill stealers, ninja looters. Their work is complete when the victims log off in a huff."
Much is stuff you'll almost certainly know if you've been following online life, but the interest is in the details. Of particular note is the closing vignette with SA-head man Kyanka, expressing how blessedly untouched he is by online vilification. What it made me think of is the old thought that there really are two sorts of people online - those who are capable of empathy (and, indeed, sympathy) through the intermediary of an electronic channel, and those who simply aren't. What the anecdote neatly illustrates is that actually works both ways.