Ask a Gamer 2: What is ‘griefing’?

Posted on November 27, 2014

The number one rule at Game Truck Australia parties is ‘No Griefing’, and while the kids reluctantly nod, parents often ask, ‘what’s griefing’? Great question, and one I’m happy to answer. The Minecraft Wiki defines griefing as:

Griefing is the act of irritating and angering people in video games through the use of destruction, construction, or social engineering…. Most players tend to dislike and frown upon griefing, while others feel it adds a certain degree of drama to the game. Trolling, however, is different from griefing, because afterwards players give their items back, and repair any damage they did.

What does it look like?

While griefing can take very elaborate forms, for younger players in a game like Minecraft it usually involves simply destroying a building or other structure that a player has invested time and effort in. The intention here is to cause grief – characteristically, it is this malicious intention that causes the most grief, since if the harm is incidental or unintentional it is usually tolerated or forgiven fairly easily.

Yeah... no.

Yeah… no.

Is it the same as bullying?

Not really, although bullying may include briefing. Bullying can take many forms and can be physical, face-to-face or conducted through a variety of media such as social media, games, email, or cellphone technology. Griefing is much more associated just with games and is often more isolated, lacking the systematic exclusion, manipulation, and domination involved with bullying. If you think there is an issue with bullying, there is an excellent website called Bullying. No Way!

What is the danger?

Of course griefing is not fun for the target, but it is often a fairly minor incident similar to arguing over use of a toy in the yard. For a Game Truck Australia party, though, a single episode of griefing can really disrupt the group’s enjoyment and undermine the feeling of camaraderie, and of course it’s not a great look for a professional party entertainment business! More broadly, griefing can undermine online gaming communities, damage real-world friendships, or affect brand value, to start with.

Source: Planet Minecraft

Source: Planet Minecraft

How can we deal with griefing?

As with so many behaviour management issues, it can be difficult to deal with an episode of griefing once it has occurred. Instant intervention, mediation, discussion and perhaps some time out might be necessary to deal with the situation. I’ve had some great success with natural justice reparations in the past – for example: ‘OK, so you blew up his house with TNT: now you have to help him rebuild it before you can continue on with your own game’. This engages both players in a constructive act of reparation.

Of course, it is much better to prevent the situation occurring at all, which accounts for Game Truck Australia’s Golden Rule: everyone must have fun (and everyone’s fun is everyone else’s responsibility). This means that the ‘no griefing’ rule is clearly and strictly applied. Sometimes it takes vigilance as some players really push the boundaries and need to know that an adult is watching and will not tolerate them ruining anyone else’s fun, which is why constant supervision is part of every package. There are also some excellent technical solutions: a grief prevention module for Minecraft on PC, and a ‘trust players‘ option for the Xbox 360 version means more control over a Minecraft world.

Every Game Truck Australia party strives to provide an epic gaming party experience for everyone in the truck, so we have a zero-tolerance policy on griefing. If everyone is happy, the gaming goes on!

Do you have a direct or indirect experience of griefing, or ideas on how to manage it? Comment below!

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