10 tips for dealing with game cyberbullies and griefers

Last week, while writing up my initial GameTap post, I wanted to end it with “Ready.  Set.  Game!” and I was sure I was plagiarizing it from someone, so I hit up Google for the 4-1-1.  It turns out lots of people have used it, and I was unable to determine who said it first, so I went ahead and used it.  But what really interested me was the first link that showed up.  It was for “10 tips for dealing with game cyberbullies and griefers” and it was published by Microsoft back in November of 2004.  Five links down the Google results, I learned I wasn’t the first person to find this list.

Now, I might get in trouble for this, but I really hate when I link to a website to discuss the content and the content changes or gets removed.  So, for the sake of my own posting continuing to make sense through the years, I’m going to quote the Microsoft page in its entirety:

Ready, set, game: Learn how to keep video gaming safe and fun
10 tips for dealing with game cyberbullies and griefers
Published: November 4, 2004

Known as griefers, snerts, cheese players, twinks, or just plain cyberbullies, chances are that one of these ne’er-do-wells has bothered a kid near you at least once while playing online multiplayer video games such as Halo 2, EverQuest, The Sims Online, SOCOM, and Star Wars Galaxies. Griefers are the Internet equivalent of playground bullies, who find it fun to embarrass and push around others.

What griefers do

Typical griefers: taunt others, especially beginners (also known as newbies); thwart fellow teammates in the game; use inappropriate language; cheat; form itinerant gangs with other griefers; block entryways; lure monsters toward unwary players; or otherwise use the game merely to annoy a convenient target or to harass a particular player who has reacted to their ill will.

Although they are only a small percentage of the video-game community, griefers have some game companies concerned they’ll lose subscribers. As a result, many game sites and providers are less tolerant of griefers and employ new methods to police for them and otherwise limit their impact.

The best way to deal with griefers is to educate yourself and prepare your kids to deal with them on their own terms. Here are ten tips to help you handle griefers.

10 tips to deal with griefers

  1. Ignore them. If your child doesn’t react to them, most griefers will eventually get bored and go away.
  2. Change game options. Have your kids play games with changeable rules or options that prevent certain griefer tactics, such as eliminating teammates.
  3. Create a private game. Most newer, multiplayer video games and related sites allow players to form their own exclusive games that permit only their friends to play.
  4. Play on sites with strict rules. Play on game sites with enforceable codes of conduct or terms of service and live game administrators who can ban serial griefers.
  5. Do something else. If a griefer continues to bother your child, have your child try a different game, or take a break and come back later.
  6. Report game glitches. Work with your child to identify exploitable glitches in the game or new methods to cheat. Report these to the game site administrator.
  7. Play games that limit griefers. Suggest to your child that he or she play newer games that provide specific resources to deal with griefers. Kids can use these resources to report offenders to game administrators, block or mute messages, and to vote griefers off.
  8. Don’t fight fire with fire. Make sure your child doesn’t use griefers’ tactics against a griefer, as this will likely encourage more bad behavior, or worse, label your child as a griefer.
  9. Avoid provocative names. Your child can preempt any problems if he or she avoids screen names or nicknames (often referred to as gamertags) that could encourage griefer behavior.
  10. Don’t give out personal information. Griefers (or anyone else) can use real names, phone numbers, and home or e-mail addresses, to further harass your child or cause other problems.

First off… snert?  Seeing as I have never heard that term in over twenty years of gaming, I had to go look it up.  I found it at the Urban Dictionary, and even my favorite site to look stuff up, Dictionary.com.  And while I was familiar with the word twink, I decided to look it up too and discovered that I really hope the author intended the meaning more closely related to video games.

But enough about passing fads in the English language, lets look at the actual advice.  It is, in and of itself, not bad advice, and actually is pretty much the same advice you give to kids about dealing with bullies in real life.  However, the problem, as discussed in this article on Wired.com, is that especially in these virtual worlds the “griefers” are just playing a different game.  The clearest example of this comes in the article through the discussion of how members of the Something Awful community approach the game EVE Online:

“The way that you win in EVE is you basically make life so miserable for someone else that they actually quit the game and don’t come back.”


“You may be playing EVE Online, but be warned: We are playing Something Awful.”

Overall, you, the player who does not want to be griefed, are at the mercy of them, the player who wants to grief you, because the whole point of most MMOs is the social interaction, which is exactly the tools they need to grief you and actually removes the tools you need to prevent them… well, unless you want to ignore rule number 8.  “Back in the day” some of the Anti-PK guilds of Ultima Online were actually more vicious than the PK guilds they hunted.

About the best you can hope for is that two griefers lock horns trying to out grief each other, which allows everyone else to ignore them and continue on with their game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *