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It's funny.  Laugh. PC Games (Games) Entertainment Games

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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  • 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 [] would have something to say to the scrubs complaining about his tactics.
  • 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....

  • 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.

  • Re:Full Court Press (Score:2, Informative)

    by J. Random Human (1232608) on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:34PM (#28600779)
    Malcolm Gladwell wrote an article on just that topic, with some obligatory Doug Lenat computer science content: []
  • 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.

  • 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 Bill Wong (583178) <bcw&well,com> on Monday July 06, 2009 @06:40PM (#28600863) Homepage
    the actual paper [] (word format, ugh).
    the guy's blog []
  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:14PM (#28601233)

    You do understand that this years Stanley Cup was the most watched since the mid-70s, right?

  • Re:Not trolling (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld@ g m> on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:57PM (#28601715)

    You know, outside of the fact that they were in the middle of doing something themselves. Chasing someone out of a zone purely for the 'fun of it' is a dick move, regardless of the game. Doing it via a cheap trick makes it worse. If you want to claim the whole "playing the game it was meant to be played" bullshit, then step up and actually fight.

    According to the posts here, he spent most of his time trash talking, and the 'kills' he got from teleporting people into the instakill zones didn't get marked as his, the server claimed the kill.

    This isn't "Carebear vs PVP", PVP means you actually throw down. This is "Players vs griefer". It's not playing the game, it's just being a dick.

  • by mqduck (232646) <mqduck@mqduc k . net> on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:04PM (#28601801)

    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 Pantero Blanco (792776) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:40PM (#28602173)

    A player was being irritating, which is within the rules.
    The rest of the players turned him into an outcast, which is also within the rules.
    I don't see the problem here.

    You (and the authors of half the comments I've read so far...) must not have read the article. They went beyond attacking or taunting him in the game. Trying to expose someone's identity and falsely accusing them of being a sex offender is WAY outside the rules.

    Also, "being irritating" in this case involved playing the game the way it was meant to be played. He wasn't doing things that were merely "technically" allowed. He wanted to roleplay as a hero, so he attacked villains.

    The summary headline is inaccurate and inflammatory; its author needs to go back to Fark.

  • 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 []:

    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 Rajani_Isa (1268678) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:02PM (#28602815)

    Also, just because it's possible to PvP with anyone there doesn't mean that people have consented to PvP with you.

    Actually, if you ask the the CS staff, if you play the game and read the beginner's info - yeah, they have. Entering a PvP Zone means you consent to be engaged by anyone anywhere at any when inside the zone. If you want to only PvP against specific people, that's what "City of" has arenas for.

  • by Pulzar (81031) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:08PM (#28602863)

    It's like people who go 45 MPH in the left lane on a 55 MPH road. Yeah, that's definitely what the laws say you can do, but most people don't, and the presence of a vehicle going a different speed from the flow of traffic creates danger and stress that shouldn't be there. Ignoring custom in favor of only the rules in print is antisocial behavior.

    Actually, almost every state/province has laws that prohibit going slow enough to inhibit normal flow of traffic. It's probably up to the traffic cop's discretion what that speed is, but it's illegal nonetheless.

  • by Arker (91948) on Monday July 06, 2009 @10:31PM (#28603051) Homepage

    If you RTFA it tells which servers he was on. There were several.

  • Re:Not trolling (Score:4, Informative)

    by Arker (91948) on Monday July 06, 2009 @11:28PM (#28603539) Homepage

    Your other post here was incorrect when it said he could do that from anywhere in the game. He could only do that if they had already voluntarily entered the area, which is very clearly marked, and even has a 30 second cool down when you enter it to give you time to leave if you did so accidentally.

    Furthermore, his range was quite limited as well. He had to catch them, not just in the zone, but on the right side of it - near where heros come into the zone. Villains enter from the opposite side. So his foes were folks that wandered around the PVP zone without a care in the world, relying on this idiotic custom to protect them, and then whined when he took advantage of their lack of caution to whack em.

    I dont play COH, I just got off the phone with a friend that did who explained it a little better than the article. Any errors in comprehension are my own.

  • by digitalloving (1540905) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:37AM (#28603999)
    The fact that he is possibly targeting minors, creating risk to them through emotional trauma, and making academic claims about the information he is gathering on online subjects definitely means he should have IRB approval. Any reasonable academic would state that, especially given the risque nature of the study. In fact, given my experience with the IRB, I doubt he would even get approval. It really saddens me that so many graduate students spend their time following the rules just to watch misguided faculty members ignore them. I like the message this sends. Below is a link to their own policy for online research. It does not deviate much from the policies I have seen at the multiple institutions I have attended. To the best of my reading, his research is in flagrant violation of the policies. []
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @03:43AM (#28604881) Journal

    Well, as someone who's been on MUDs long before MMOs, and briefly even tried his hand at creating content on one, I can at least say this: I had thought I've heard every excuse before. There was always a segment (the ones Bartle called "killers") who'd whine at length that if you don't let them repeatedly gank newbies:

    A. you're infringing upon their freedom of speech. (Never mind that that ammendment is about congress, not about their behaviour on someone else's private property.)

    B. ... and their dad is a lawyer and will sue you for it. (Never did somehow.)

    C. ... and that's the road to fascism and slavery. (Yeah, right.)

    D. You're making roleplaying impossible. (Apparently being an out-of-character griefer is the only possible role to play.)

    E. You're depriving those newbies of _fun_. They may not know it, but they secretly _want_ to be ganked repeatedly and otherwise harrassed. If you let them opt out of that instead of being thrown to the wolves from the first minute, they'll all get bored and leave! (I think Everquest 1 disproved that one quite nicely.)

    F. Somehow a failure of a human being, along with everyone else who even thinks of being, you know, social in a massively multiplayer game.

    And, umm, that's about it off the top of my head.

    The research one is actually kind of new. Of course, this "researcher" didn't invent it, but still, it's kinda refreshing to see the douchebags have broadened their repertoire a little. They were starting to sound like a broken record.

  • The problem with what he was doing was that it was not PvP. He was using a teleport power to move other players into an NPC guard post. The NPC's were doing all the killing. He didn't even get the points for it, because he didn't actually defeat the enemies, and so, contrary to what he claims, he wasn't even playing by the rules of the game, because the game does not provide any incentive for this.

    In short, he was griefing other players--killing them for no reason, and for no gain.

When I left you, I was but the pupil. Now, I am the master. - Darth Vader