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Researcher Trolls MMO, Surprised When Players Hate Him 895

Posted by Soulskill
from the match-made-in-heaven dept.
D1gital_Prob3 writes with this excerpt from a story about David Myers, a Loyola professor who spent some time studying superhero MMO City of Heroes/Villains: "... he aimed the pointer at his opponent, the virtual comic book villain 'Syphris.' Myers, 55, flicked the buttons on his mouse and magically transported his opponent to the front of a cartoon robot execution squad. In an instant, the squad pulverized the player. Syphris fired an instant message at Myers moments later. 'If you kill me one more time I will come and kill you for real and I am not kidding.' ... As part of his experiment, Myers decided to play the game by the designers' rules — disregarding any customs set by the players. His character soon became very unpopular. At first, players tried to beat him in the game to make him quit. Myers was too skilled to be run off, however. They then made him an outcast, a World Wide Web pariah that the creator of Syphris — along with hundreds of other faceless gamers — detested."
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Researcher Trolls MMO, Surprised When Players Hate Him

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  • by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:16PM (#28600549) Homepage Journal

    So, a researcher enters a foreign land. He obeys the strict letter of the law, but ignores the customs and rules of polite behavior. Even more, he specifically sets out to break those customs and rules of polite society. The natives push back, telling him that he is being rude. He continues to break the customs and rules of polite society, offending large numbers of people on a regular basis. The natives seek every legal avenue and socially acceptable method to drive him away. He continues to offend. Some natives start pushing what is social acceptable, and skirting the edges of legality.

    Wow, color me surprised. Those nasty natives! How dare they try to keep you down!

    Perhaps as followup research he can start referring to people of other ethnicity using racial slurs.

    • by Microlith (54737) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:29PM (#28600721)

      I like your suggestion:

      Perhaps as followup research he can start referring to people of other ethnicity using racial slurs.

      because it is entirely ridiculous and indicative of what the users (how can you call them players, when they ignore the intent of the game) are doing. Basically, he played the game (actually fighting villains) and was hated for it. Not because he was being vile or crude (indeed, completely contrary to what you suggest) but by violating game defeating "customs." Why the hell have a city full of heroes and villains, if the villains and heroes just idly chat and don't actually fight each other?

      And when someone does play the game, the natives get pissy as all get out. Sounds like a bunch of crybabies inhabit those games if you ask me.

      • by TOGSolid (1412915) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:12PM (#28601213)
        Wow, did this stir up some memories about my Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast days.
        The attitude of the CoH community sounds a lot like the Saberists from JK2. They had all these 'rules' for dueling online and would clog up the deathmatch servers, vote kicking anyone that didn't play their way. Rather than actually play the game, they'd just chit chat in the corner and have duels between the players. Never mind the fact that in deathmatch mode there was a duel key that prevented the agreeing duelists from being harmed by outside forces, the Saberists preferred to just completely overtake servers and ruin game after game with their forced upon "honor" (boy I wish I was making that up). Sure you could try and find a different server, but eventually they had run off everyone else and trying to get a real game going was nigh impossible. Anyone that just wanted to play JK2 (and JK: Academy later on) straight and have a good time was hailed as a griefer, a troll and turned into a pariah.
        Is what Myers did wrong? Absolutely not, he was playing as any newcomer would. I know my immediate impression would be: "An arena where the forces of good and evil do battle in order to see who's the best? Sounds like a blast! Wait, all they do is talk to each other and have their robots fight? What the fuck?"
        Groups such as the CoH arena community, and the Saberists community before them deserve to be screwed with. While community rules for fair play can indeed be an important part of a game (for instance, acknowledging a certain mechanic is broken and not using it until it's fixed just out of good sportsmanship), when they're twisted around as to essentially ruin the intent of the game, then they've gone too far.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Fallingcow (213461)

          Didn't start with Jedi Outcast.

          People'd get so pissed in Dark Forces: Jedi Knight when you'd force pull their weapon away then lightsaber them to death before they could do anything. Like, boot-you-from-the-server pissed. WTF? Play in a non-force-powers game then, ya jerks!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sage Gaspar (688563)
          If you join a casual pickup basketball game and start getting real physical and slamming the ball out of bounds people might get upset and decide you're an asshole too. Technically you might not even be committing a foul but that's just not the way they want to play ball. This is much the same thing, only since it's online there's no real way to gauge reactions and you might be doing it to some teenager that has a harder time keeping cool.

          Basically just find a group of people that play the way you want to
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Obfuscant (592200)
        Not because he was being vile or crude (indeed, completely contrary to what you suggest) but by violating game defeating "customs."

        Indeed, what is "vile or crude" but violation of customs? While some "customs" are based on well-demonstrated concepts (like Robert's Rules of Order running a meeting), many are simply courtesies and apparently arbitrary rules (don't put your hat on the bar, e.g.).

        It sounds like he was extremely "vile or crude" because he chose to violate the customs of the people in the game

      • by Maestro4k (707634) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:48PM (#28601591) Journal

        because it is entirely ridiculous and indicative of what the users (how can you call them players, when they ignore the intent of the game) are doing. Basically, he played the game (actually fighting villains) and was hated for it. Not because he was being vile or crude (indeed, completely contrary to what you suggest) but by violating game defeating "customs."

        Not to defend what the other players were doing (harassing the guy obviously went way too far), but even in real life there are "customs" in societies that disallow certain actions even though said actions are legal. If you're going to be a part of a community, any community, you have to follow the unwritten rules of that community or you're going to be mighty unpopular. Just because it's a game doesn't mean the community can be ignored, and you do so at your own peril. If you read the article it noted that players at first gently informed him that he was breaking custom, and he ignored them and continued to do so. After that the players gradually increased the attacks on him trying to force him to conform.

        And when someone does play the game, the natives get pissy as all get out. Sounds like a bunch of crybabies inhabit those games if you ask me.

        Just to give a real world comparison, in most places it'd be perfectly legal for me to sit on my front porch and cuss out everyone who happens to walk down the street. But if I do so all my neighbors will begin to hate me and do whatever they can to discourage my behavior. Sound like a bunch of crybabies to you? Or am I being an unrepentant asshole who deserves to be hated by his neighbors? If you don't want to be part of a community, fine, but don't whine about the repercussions. That's what this professor's doing, he ignored the customs of the community he was in, and he faced the consequences and whined about it. He's the crybaby, not the other players.

    • by coaxial (28297) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:35PM (#28600797) Homepage

      So, a researcher enters a foreign land. He obeys the strict letter of the law, but ignores the customs and rules of polite behavior.

      He had been playing since the game came out in 2004. He knew the customs, he knew the rules. He played the game as designed. He was a hero who defeated villains in a PvP server. He played the game correctly, while everyone else wasn't.

      This is the thing with MMOs and really modern gamers. People lament that you can't actually role play in a computer RPG, but here's a guy doing that, and he's an outcast. Heros don't hang out and chat with villains. They fight. What we have here was people that didn't actually want to play the game. They just wanted to rack up (dubious) "achievements".

      The prof did exactly right.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DamnStupidElf (649844)
        Heros don't hang out and chat with villains. They fight. What we have here was people that didn't actually want to play the game. They just wanted to rack up (dubious) "achievements".

        Perhaps you've heard of prisoner's dilemma? Mutual cooperation wins every time. E.g. in the Real World<TM> super heroes and super villains would join forces to do whatever they want (which would almost certainly be less than heroic but short of true villainy).

      • by Draek (916851) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:14PM (#28601241)

        People lament that you can't actually role play in a computer RPG, but here's a guy doing that, and he's an outcast. Heros don't hang out and chat with villains. They fight.

        Err, no they don't. Heroes only fight villians to prevent them from doing evil stuff, that's why they're *heroes* and not 'villians employed by our own side'. And if the villians decided to drop the baby-eating stuff and have a nice chat over coffee, a proper hero would go and join them, not beat them up just because "dude, he's like, a villian".

        That's the thing with roleplayers I despise the most, that they all 'roleplay' as genocidal maniacs brainwashed into an "us vs them" ideology. No, just because goblins are part of the 'monster' class doesn't mean you should go and chop them up, and just because some guy was classified as part of the 'villians' faction means you're a hero if you go and kick his ass while he's chatting with a friend.

        Which is why I and most people playing online don't "roleplay". Its hard, its usually not that fun, and most people who try fail completely at it and become worse players, in the community sense, than those that play it as a mere game. Like TFA.

      • Correctly? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Valdrax (32670) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:30PM (#28601419)

        He had been playing since the game came out in 2004. He knew the customs, he knew the rules. He played the game as designed. He was a hero who defeated villains in a PvP server. He played the game correctly, while everyone else wasn't.

        How is teleporting people in front of NPC bots designed to enforce a safe zone instead of beating someone up yourself "playing correctly?" Especially when he was attacking people who didn't want to PVP by abusing a mechanism intended to protect people who didn't want to PVP?

        The only reason he was "unbeatable" was because he built a character optimized to exploit a cheap trick that didn't rely on his own strength. I mean, he talks himself up as being skilled, but the truth is a little less flattering. Plus, he wasn't as nice and innocently curious of a guy as he pretends to be. An AC below notes that he would taunt people, post bragging kill logs, etc.

        He was a griefer who basically bemoans how "haters gotta be hatin'." What a chump.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Arker (91948)

          How is teleporting people in front of NPC bots designed to enforce a safe zone instead of beating someone up yourself "playing correctly?"

          How else would a character whose major power focus was teleportation fight? Huh? The hero is supposed to go fight the villains but refrain from using his only significant power because it's unfair? That's ridiculous. If the teleport power is overbalanced, the game designers need to rework it or remove it, but dont blame the player for using what he has in an intelligent w

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kamokazi (1080091)

        What we have here was people that didn't actually want to play the game. They just wanted to rack up (dubious) "achievements".

        Who said the game wasn't about racking up "dubious achievements"? Since the majority of players seem to do it, I would say that IS the game, or at least one of the most significant parts of it. Just because you think it should be played out exactly like a comic book doesn't mean the game should be that way, and anyone else doing anything different is not really playing it. It's a superhero GAME, not a superhero SIMULATOR.

        This part in the summary also kind of irked me, and follows what you said:

        Myers decided to play the game by the designers' rules disregarding any customs set by the players

        COH w

      • by Saxerman (253676) * on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:00PM (#28601751) Homepage

        I find it interesting you say that he 'played the game correctly' since that was the core part of the argument that I thought the professor completely missed in his paper.

        Who gets to define the 'correct' way to play? And if we look at the social dynamic of the game world as being larger than merely a 'game', who gets to define the correct way to live life? Can you really do it wrong? Is there anything interesting about that fact that players were put in an environment were they were suppose to compete against one another, and yet collectively choose to cooperate instead?

        Certainly, we could make a compelling argument that the game designers and developers are the ones who get to define the 'correct' way to play the game. But I should think an equally compelling argument could also be made that the players also get to make that decision. Or, even, that it is an entirely subjective and personal choice, and not subject to the tyranny of any majority.

      • Shaka Zulu (Score:3, Interesting)

        by whitefox (16740)

        Heros don't hang out and chat with villains. They fight. What we have here was people that didn't actually want to play the game. They just wanted to rack up (dubious) "achievements".

        Reminds me of a scene from the television series "Shaka Zulu [imdb.com]" where a young Shaka eagerly looks forward to proving himself in battle but instead observes a "battle" where the opponents simply dress up, dance, and hurl insults at each other to determine the winner. This method of warfare and Shaka's subsequent shakeup seems to

  • Not trolling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:17PM (#28600559)
    This summary seemed very biased, cherry picking out sections that made it seem like the Professor played outside of the intended purposes of the game by saying he avoided 'custom sets'. After reading the article it seems to me he played it exactly how anyone who had purchased that game would expect to play it. He chose a side, in his case hero, and set out to do battle against other people who had chosen the side of villian. I am not familiar with the game, but it would seem to me that would be the obvious way in which to play the game and how it was meant. From the article the professor says both heroes and villians sat around chatting and only going against computer opponents, which would seem to sort of defeat the purpose of a game that lets you choose a side and everyone has this choice. I know if I had picked up this game I would be pretty pissed if I started playing it just to realize I was only there to be buddy buddy with everyone no matter their affiliation and only go after those designated as computer threats.
  • Ok, so... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tenek (738297) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:17PM (#28600563)
    After being "chilled" by players threatening to kill him, he then goes and publishes his personal information. Brilliant.

    That said, I I think Sirlin [sirlin.net] would have something to say to the scrubs complaining about his tactics.
  • Carebears (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hardburn (141468) <hardburn@ w u m pus-cave.net> on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:17PM (#28600571)

    Myers, who bought "City of Heroes" when it hit store shelves in 2004, quickly learned that players ignored the area's stated purpose. Heroes chatted peacefully with villains in the combat zone. Instead of fighting each other, members of the two factions sparred with computer-controlled enemies..

    What kind of silly carebear game is this? Try Eve, where the time it takes to rid yourself of such nonsense is measured in the time it takes to warm up a railgun.

  • Not a new concept (Score:5, Informative)

    by ls671 (1122017) * on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:18PM (#28600577) Homepage

    This is not a new concept, it has been covered in one episode of South Park where some guy kills everybody in WOW and the kids get together to defeat him.

    I mean, if it has been covered in South Park, I would guess this occurred in other games before. Still interesting to see the similarities with the South Park episode although....

  • by mail2345 (1201389) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:20PM (#28600607)
    If you read the article, it mentioned that he just took a different stlye of battle, instead of the socially accepted standard of sending robots at their robots, he just killed them directly. He did not insult them, just took action different from the normal battle.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:37PM (#28600817)

      If you read the article, it mentioned that he just took a different stlye of battle, instead of the socially accepted standard of sending robots at their robots, he just killed them directly. He did not insult them, just took action different from the normal battle.

      As a CoH player whom he once publicly called a "piece of shit", I assure you this is not true. Much of his sparring was verbal.

      To explain the game mechanics a bit: In the area where he played, there are safe-haven areas at each end of the map, one for each side. If your character gets too close to the opposing faction's base, you'll be killed instantly by their base defenses -- no exceptions. Camping in your own base and teleporting nearby opponents into the automated defenses is generally considered a cheap tactic, but hey, it's part of the game.

      "Twixt" did a lot more than employ one cheap tactic, he went out of his way to be an ass.

      • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @01:51AM (#28604351)
        Sounds like the game mechanics are seriously broken. Exploiting a bug in the game implementation is cheating, but it sounds like this guy was exploiting a bad design. If you leave loopholes in the game mechanics big enough to drive a truck through, you shouldn't be surprised when somebody with no social conscience takes advantage. Bitch at the implementers to fix the game, not at the asshole who is demonstrating that the game is broken.

        I've always thought MMOs should have a karma system where you can grant others positive karma for helping you out or negative karma for pissing you off. The accumulated karma would then bias your "dice rolls" so that if you pissed too many people off, you would never be able to win a battle. Unfortunately, most games instead reward amoral behavior.
  • Full Court Press (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nausea_malvarma (1544887) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:21PM (#28600619)

    Some of the tactics used by this researcher remind me of the full court press in basketball. The rules of basketball allow a full court press, yet to do so never crosses the mind of most players. Playing one side of the court at a time is convention. The full court press is extremely effective, yet if you use it, the other team will no doubt call your win "cheap".

    Still, when you are the underdog, and must win at all costs, the press is your only option. I sympathize with those who use it (and recognize that it isn't easy to pull off either).

    If people complain that a tactic is cheap, it's really not the fault of the player, but the fault of the game. Past slashdot postings are full of examples where players exploited loopholes in city of heroes (remember the article about player-created missions?). With this in mind, I think it's obvious that City of Heroes was poorly designed to begin with. Game designers should never assume players will be on their best behavior.

    • Re:Full Court Press (Score:5, Informative)

      by PeanutButterBreath (1224570) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:32PM (#28600759)

      Some of the tactics used by this researcher remind me of the full court press in basketball. The rules of basketball allow a full court press, yet to do so never crosses the mind of most players. Playing one side of the court at a time is convention. The full court press is extremely effective, yet if you use it, the other team will no doubt call your win "cheap".

      Still, when you are the underdog, and must win at all costs, the press is your only option. I sympathize with those who use it (and recognize that it isn't easy to pull off either).

      Full court presses are not considered "cheap". They just aren't used all the time because they are only effective under rare circumstances -- either when the offensive team is under a time crunch to move the ball across half court or score, or when weak ball handlers can be trapped and forced into a low-percentage pass.

      Otherwise, trying to guard the entire court is not as effective as concentrating your defense in the half where the other team can score points. A full court press is hard because it is basically a man-to-man defence over the entire court, giving the offense plenty of room to maneuver and making it that much harder to double team or switch defensive assignments.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:25PM (#28600655)

    What seems weird is that he was upset that people were punishing behavior "out of the norm" on one hand, and on the other hand was touting that he was merely following the rules. Huh?

    The folks in the game creatively and organically decided to set up their own customs opposed to the rules - Twixt seems more like a street preacher who hates everyone because they don't follow the rules like he does.

    Is he a cultural anthropologist (probably not, given that anthropologists are trained to work within the social framework of existing cultures as much as possible)? If not, I'd LOVE to see a cultural anthropologist do a write up on what happened here.

    • by tsm_sf (545316) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:31PM (#28601423) Journal
      He's a "media professor".

      After reading the article it seems like he was a griefer who wrote a paper to justify being an asshole. He's "dismayed" and "disturbed" by behavior any anthro 101 student could have predicted from the start. Behavior that would seem like a perfectly natural response to his actions in the "real world".

      tl;dr version of his paper: "assholes shunned online as in RL. WTF?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mqduck (232646)

      Is he a cultural anthropologist (probably not, given that anthropologists are trained to work within the social framework of existing cultures as much as possible)

      No, he's a man who simply hates culture. He doesn't want to study it. As he's quoted saying at the end of the article: "I look at social groups with dismay."

      And, by the way, the cultural anthropologists' principal of non-interference isn't absolute. In a case like this, employing the scientific method is perfectly valid.

  • by Akoman (559057) <medwards@walledcity.ca> on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:27PM (#28600681) Homepage
    The professor seems surprisingly disappointed by the scorn heaped on his not-mainstream behaviour. He tries to liken it to cliques in high school, but the reality is he didn't just not follow rules, but he actively tried to destroy an existing social fabric and actively molested participants. He tries to paint his behaviour as 'following the rules, but independent' without the most important piece of information 'also, I actively antagonised people.' This is akin to painting himself a geek when really he's a bully (to follow on his high school example)
  • by jnaujok (804613) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:30PM (#28600725) Homepage Journal
    ...how much government funding he got during the 4 odd years he was "researching" this. Not a bad job to get paid to play a video game for four years and be an utter prick while doing it, while maintaining the rationalization, "it's all for science." Maybe someone should be researching why sociology professors are so willing to live off the public dole like this...
  • So he gets to play MMOs all day and be a cock in them, AND he gets paid for it?

    Shit, all this time I've been doing it for free....

  • Death threat? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by orkybash (1013349) <tim.bocek@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:35PM (#28600803)
    Wow, someone on the Internet said he would kill you! This is a death threat to take seriously, all right.
  • What an ass... (Score:5, Informative)

    by WiglyWorm (1139035) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:36PM (#28600807) Homepage

    Having read the full article, it appears as though the "researcher" did nothing more than hang out in the combat zones in CoH/CoV and teleport the oposing faction in to a line of guards who would instakill anyone who got too close. (making the line "but he was too skilled to be driven off" extra hillarious).

    He would then troll the general chat with stuff like (direct quote here):

    "Yay, heroes. Go good team. Vills lose again,"

    I couldn't make this shit up if I were trying.

    His grand conclusion?

    in the game's chat box, users like Hunter-Killed responded, "U are a major sh--bird."

    Another player added, "I hope your mother gets cancer." Yet another wrote, "EVERYONE HATES YOU."

    Myers was stunned by the reaction, since he obeyed the game's rules.

    "If you aren't a member of the tribe, you get whacked with a stick," he said. "I look at social groups with dismay."

    What's this guy's next "research" project? Going down to the bus station and punching old ladies in the nose?

    This guy wasn't doing research, he just wanted a tax write off and a grant to do nothing but sit around and be a dick on the internet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cbhacking (979169)

      Wow, I'm not sure which is worse - the fact that what he is getting reviled for doing *exactly* the point of the game (heroes and villians, think about it), or that you looked at the evidence and somehow concluded that he was doing it because he wanted to "be a dick on the internet." Sounds to me like he was playing the damn game. He wasn't even talking trash, for crying out loud! Sure, nobody personally likes the guy that kills them in a game, but the correct response is to try and kill him right back (in

  • by judolphin (1158895) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:39PM (#28600851)
    In the sports world, there are many instances of coaches and players using strategies that, although effective, are bad for the game for one reason or another. Sports leagues that deal with this effectively, like the NBA, are doing OK. Leagues that do not, such as the NHL (sorry Canada), are circling the drain. Once upon a time in basketball, teams started holding the ball for minutes at a time as soon as they got a lead. So, the NBA instituted a shot clock forcing the team to shoot the ball within 24 seconds. As players got taller, coaches started camping 7-footers under the basket. So, a 3-second lane was added to forbid any player from standing under the basket for more than 3 seconds at a time. Years later, the 3-point line was introduced to increase the value of long-range shooting and encourage players not to all crowd around the basket. The NHL started going down the tubes when teams like the New Jersey Devils used the horrendously boring "neutral zone trap" and "clutch-and-grab" defense to win Stanley Cups over more skilled and exciting teams. The NHL waited too long to do something about it, and as a result the Stanley Cup finals are now shown on a basic cable bicycle racing channel. If legal play can ruin the game, the rules need to be changed. Pure and simple. You can't trust the players to "be nice."
  • Stunned? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:39PM (#28600853) Homepage
    Myers was stunned by the reaction, since he obeyed the game's rules.

    I weep for higher education. Here we have a man with a Ph.D. and a teaching position, and he doesn't know the first thing about culture. Is he lying when he says he was stunned?

    The professor was disturbed that game rules encouraging competition and varied tactics hardly mattered to gaming community members who wanted to preserve a deeply-rooted culture.

    Again, how can an educated man be so ignorant? Ah well, I suppose he's like the Ph.D.s at my mom's job - the ones who regularly send her email hoaxes, viruses, and Howard Dean campaign contribution requests.

  • the actual paper [loyno.edu] (word format, ugh).
    the guy's blog [wordpress.com]
  • by Kelbear (870538) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:42PM (#28600875)

    It sounds like this "professor" really never learned the details about what he's playing.

    In this particular game, player vs. player combat is for the most part consensual. The speed of travel in the game is so fast that the only way to kill someone is for them to be willing to slow down and have a fight to the death. The developers go to greath lengths to minimize the ways in which one player can interfere with other players.

    Being killed by a player has no penalty in a PvP zone, you're just sent back to the entrance of the zone. However, the computer controlled "cartoon" enemies in the zone will inflict an experience loss(known as "debt") on the players that die by their hand, and this loss takes a considerable amount of time to mitigate. There are players in this zone who are there to defeat the enemies because they give increased experience, they aren't there to fight or interact with enemy players in any way and are left alone instead.

    There's no benefit to winning by dropping the enemy into the computer controlled enemies, since the computer takes the credit for killing him. So essentially, he is disrupting the gameplay of the other players, inflicting a loss of time, and for no personal gain aside from schadenfreude. A classic troll.

    He's not bucking social norms, he's being a sociopath as far the game world allows. The results are not suprising, interesting, or even insightful. If he wanted to buck social norms, he should play a healer character who focuses only on his weak offensive abilities. That's the game-equivalent of being a social outcast. He's going for the game-equivalent of Charles Manson.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cbhacking (979169)

      The game itself is broken, then. Why the hell can you teleport somebody like that in that case?

      I actually still find the other player's responses interesting. Instead of trying to use the same (obviously highly effective) tactic against this guy, or forming groups so that he can't do it to thim without dying as well, they're sitting back and whining, name-calling, and sending RL threats (easily enough to get you permabanned in most games).

      Mind you, I've no interest in actually playing this game - the way yo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Arker (91948)

      This is a clearly marked PVP zone, in a game where everyone is on one side or the other and they are supposed to be constantly at war. If you want a farm a zone like that you do it at your own risk, and getting butthurt because someone on the other team was actually playing their character is just absurd and pathetic.

      The same kind of idiocy this researcher found in this game definitely goes back a long ways though. I remember encountering it in MUDs way back in the 80s, and the cross-teaming that killed Eve

  • A minor note: (Score:3, Informative)

    by E-Sabbath (42104) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:00PM (#28601087)

    This behavior as described by the researcher does not get XP for the player. It does not get drops for the player, either. It simply wastes the opponent's time.
    Note also that there are two different behaviors described. One, a pattern of teleporting foes into the 'safe zone guards' was later defined as griefing by the developers, and punishable by pretty much the same punishment as threatening people. The other is a matter of waiting till someone is badly hurt, fighting someone else, and picking them off by teleporting them directly into a boss. This is completely legal, it simply imposes an XP penalty on the person killed. It is also, of course, viewed as 'cheap.'

    I suspect strongly that our friend did the 'teleport into guard' trick until the day it was declared griefing, then switched to a new tactic, just to cause the maximum social annoyance.

    I have seen this behavior in real life, as well. It is the person who drives in the left lane at ten under the limit, on a road where the convention is twenty over. Much like the behavior described in the game, it is technically legal, unless, of course, the cops decide the driver is intentionally blocking the road.

    In this case, I suspect he is both intentionally blocking the road _and_ driving with a hat on, barely able to see over the windshield, if he truly does not understand why his behavior was deemed frustrating.

    To put it another way, most of us grew out of this behavior when we were six. It's passive-aggressive, and spiritually the same as "I'm not touching you. I'm not touching you. I'm not touching you."

    His survival _after_ this behavior might be an indication of skill... but I doubt he survived for long, simply taking advantage of the lack of death penalty, and various stealth powers to return to play after being killed.

    As far as playing by the 'rules', I should note that it has become harder and harder to perform his tactics, due to behavior like this. Why? Because, while the game world may allow it, it was only allowed because the developers didn't actually believe someone would behave like this, to no personal gain and great social cost. As such, they have added equipment, power sets, potions, and direct power changes to make it harder to perform.

  • Griefer is reviled (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Johnny Mnemonic (176043) <mdinsmore.gmail@com> on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:17PM (#28601257) Homepage Journal

    and writes book describing why it's ok to be a Griefer.

    More surprising to me was that in CoH/V PvP is not played as described. I play WoW, on both PvP and carebear servers, and boy do I get ganked whenever I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no such "polite agreement" between Ally and Horde in WoW. How did one get established in CoH/V?

    And while it does indeed suck to get griefed and ganked by the opposing forces, esp when I am no threat to them, if it starts bothering me much I just go do something else for awhile. The Alliance can't be roaming Tarren Mill all of the time? Can they? But it seems like I did have to log in in the Early AM Server Time in order to complete some of those quests.

  • by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:06PM (#28601831) Journal

    Myers was stunned by the reaction, since he obeyed the game's rules.

    That's meaningless, the programmed rules of the game are analagous to the laws of physics. Just because you can punch someone on the nose doesn't mean that you should, or that they should just shrug their shoulders and go "well, physics allows it, so I'm ok with it"

  • by Goldsmith (561202) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:36PM (#28602137)

    Were I faculty at Loyola, I would find the IRB members who approved this and give them a very hard time, as this is not the kind of research I would want to be associated with. If he has done this without IRB support, I would ask that he be removed from the faculty.

    I would point to his academic themed blog (linked to in the article), where he seems to go out of his way to belittle and further antagonize the non-academics who are complaining (he had a separate blog "in character" for his research, this is his "serious academic" blog). His response to an inquiry about the ethics of what he has done is to link to a discussion of similar researchers who seem to reach a conclusion that the ethics in MMO social research are complicated and suggests that transparency and respect of the other players is the best policy (in other words, he links to a blog that suggests he has acted unethically). That he is acting "in character" in his academic blog after the conclusion of the research and is not adhering to the "normal" research conduct of his field is, to me, totally unacceptable.

  • by K.os023 (1093385) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:48PM (#28602271)
    Comments on TFA say that the situation was not exactly as represented in TFA. From here [nola.com]:

    I'm actually a CoH player who PvPed both with and against Twixt (I am not any of the players named, and my verbal interactions with Twixt were quite limited). I'd like to clear up a few things that seem to be missing. Note that I am, in no way, discounting the seriousness of death threats, but maybe a little more understanding of what really took place will allow people to relate better to the frustration.

    1) Twixt's actions in PvP translated to an investment of time. By teleporting (the action described) villains into a row of firing squad computer-generated enemies, he would give the other character debt. This debt would impede the character's ability to gain experience by cutting it in half for a certain period of time. Thus, anyone who suffered from what Twixt did would pay for it by having their progress cut in half the next time they got the opportunity to play. A full portion of debt could take upwards of 3 hours of nonstop play to be worked off.

    Imagine you go play miniature golf. Directly in front of you is a group of 10 children who have no idea what they're doing. You are unable to skip past them, and as is allowed, they refuse to let you pass. Due to this inconvenience, you only get to play 9 holes (or 4, if you're only on a 9-hole course). Would you be frustrated? I sure would be. They didn't break the rules, but they hurt the fun of my outing by specifically robbing me of the time that I had dedicated to accomplishing my goal. It's not much different than traffic, bowling balls getting stuck in the lanes, people talking during a movie, or any other issue that would rob an individual of their free time. The individuals causing your frustration may not be breaking the rules, but they are affecting your enjoyment.

    2) Twixt's account of what took place in the PvP zones he visited just plain isn't accurate.

    People did chat because many of the players had played together prior to the release of City of Villains (CoH was released in May of 2004 while CoV in October of 2006). Most of us already knew each other. However, that didn't result in a lack of fighting. Many times, Twixt would simply teleport people from battles already in place to his computer-generated death squads. He's presenting the situation as if he was the only one using the zones correctly when, in actuality, he was just the only one manipulating loopholes to allow him to generally be mean to other players. That's the biggest reason why he was despised.

    3) Twixt commonly made fun of players he killed.

    He did not simply say random hero-supporting things, he oftentimes bragged openly after using his computer-generated helpers to kill someone. Like any other competitive situation, bragging and talking trash will earn people talking back and becoming more upset. He worked to goad individuals into becoming angrier at what he did.

    He mentions the forums as a place where people speculated about parts of his life, but he seems to have left out where he posted kill-logs from his time spent in PvP zones. He posted quite frequently on those boards, and he went out of his way to fuel the hate that developed for him. Professional athletes who do such a thing are widely derided by the media and fans. Twixt worked hard to generate hate, he was not simply an innocent victim.

    4) Twixt died. A lot.

    Twixt perfected his method of generating debt for other players by dying a whole lot along the way. Statements like, "But no one could stay alive long enough to defeat Twixt..." completely misrepresent what happened.

    5) Twixt's research plays a role by examining another realm of society, but his results are predictable.

    It's not surprising that people get upset when you're mean to them without reason. On an unmarked curb, it's legal for me to park 5 fee

  • by AnotherBlackHat (265897) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:22PM (#28602967) Homepage

    He claims to have done an experiment, yet from what I can see, he's tried a grand total of ONE behaviour.
    Maybe all players treat everyone like they're an asshole, maybe it wasn't the killing itself, but the obnoxious bragging about it that got people riled.
    Maybe it was the color of his pants, or the time of year, or maybe he did something outside of the game itself to bring it on.
    And no statement from the developers of the game that what he was doing was how they "intended" the game to be played.

    How can he possibly draw valid conclusions from this?

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @11:08AM (#28608481)

    The entrance to every zone in COH/COV is an area protected by police robots. The robots have rays that instantly kill anything in the game. The purpose of this is to prevent anyone from greifing people who are in the process of entering the area and don't have control of their characters yet.

    If it weren't for these robots, then greifers could drag powerful mobs into the entrance area, or in the PvP area just stand in the enemy entrance area with a buddy or two, and prevent anyone from being able to enter without getting killed before having a chance to fight back at all.

    There's also a "teleport foe" skill you can take, which is very handy for pulling, or for when an enemy gets stuck in a wall.

    What this guy appeared to be doing was going into the PvP area and using teleport foe to teleport players on the other side into his own insta-death protected entrance area.

    It is a very clever way to use the dev's griefer protection tools to grief people. What is most certianly is not is "playing the game by the designer's rules".

    If you've ever had a conversation with a game griefer where they dumped their rationalizations for their prickish behavior on you, this article will look very familiar to you.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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