The Daily Grind: Is ‘griefing’ possible in an open PvP sandbox?

I was snooping around the Star Citizen Spectrum forums last week when I bumped into a topic that made me back up my snooping truck for a second look. The author attempts to define “sandbox” as a “newer classification” than themeparks, which will make vets grin for sure, but then it goes on to argue that by definition, there’s not really any such thing as griefing in a sandbox as all activities are on the table.

2014 me already argued – successfully, I’d like to think – that PvP isn’t a crucial element of MMOs, let alone sandboxes, so I won’t do that again. But what I did want to home in on is how we ought to be defining griefing. I’ve always thought of griefing as having nothing to do with what is technically legal or socially acceptable in the game but about literally causing grief. Not trying to win, or trying to take something for yourself, which seem like perfectly reasonable activities in any game, but specifically making causing grief in other players your primary goal of your activities, whether or not you’re playing by the game’s particular rules to do so. For example: camping newbie spawn points even when the game doesn’t reward you for doing so. Consequently, it’s just as possible in a game that forbids PvP as one that enables it.

Do you agree with the OP? Is it possible to grief in an open PvP sandbox?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

68
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Leiloni

By your own definition it seems that whether or not something constitutes griefing is dependent upon how the person on the receiving end feels about it. So in a PvP sandbox, the playerbase is more likely to see those scenarios in a different light and relate it more to intended gameplay. I’m sure some people will find certain things griefing, but I think you’d see less of it given the communities in those games.

Reader
Nosy Gamer

Considering you can be banned in EVE Online for griefing, I’d have to say yes.

Reader
jaif13

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -Eleanor Roosevelt

Nobody can poor an emotion down another person’s ear. -Me

Basically, you choose whether or not you feel grief. This strange notion that we blame other people for feeling bad really bothers me, as it leads down an ugly path where nobody says what they think or feel for fear of hearing the great cry “grief!”

Having said that, I do agree that people go out of their way to interfere-with/discomfort others, and take joy from it, and that’s certainly possible in a variety of combat and non-combat ways in a sandbox. Having said that, I think it’s the job of the sandbox-developers to provide rulesets that cater to people’s individual norms.

You may hate getting ganked, and want a PvE ruleset so you can play a more sedate game. I may hate people who wall my house in, and want a PvP ruleset to balance it out.

-Jeff

Reader
Sorenthaz

Technically no because the nature of such means that everything is essentially permissible.

I think griefing in general means anything causing another grief, but in the instance of an open PvP sandbox with no rules… well, that means griefing is 100% permissible and should be expected. This is also why open PvP sandboxes tend to be niche games and foster heavily toxic communities as they often cater to and reward sociopathic tendencies.

Reader
Leiloni

I was with you until the last line. I think you need to realize that players see these games as games and not real life. What people enjoy in a game is not at all what they’d enjoy in real life. Calling them sociopathic is so far from correct or appropriate. And honestly toxic, like griefing, is in the eye of the beholder because at the end of the day it comes down to gameplay preferences.

PurpleCopper
Reader
PurpleCopper

Spawn camping seems like a valid tactic, why wait for newbies to become more powerful and therefore become a threat to you? Better to nip it in the bud.

You can pretty much justify griefing by using any flimsy reason.

Reader
Hravik

It has always been my experience that griefing is always possible, doesn’t matter what type of game you call home.

In every MMO I’ve ever played, there is always a group that will find ways to ruin things for others. Be that ganking or some abilities that were meant to be fun, but have unintended uses to annoy others. Some of these guys will go to insane lengths to do so, with whole guilds dedicated to it. They will toe the line just enough, rules lawyer hard enough, or spend so much on the game that devs can and have looked the other way.

So it really isn’t a question of yes or no, because the answer is always yes. The real question is how pervasive is it in your game, or specific server.

Reader
Chris Mc

I say it is possible, but a lot of what is causing you “grief” in those games is expected and even encouraged. You have to go out of your way to really be a griefer there, I think.

Reader
Paul

Sorry but how’s that even a question – “Griefing” is playing to ruin someone else’s experience so can (and does) happen in any online game. Whether its an allowed gameplay style in a particular type of game is a different question.

kjempff
Reader
kjempff

Of course griefing is possible in open pvp sandbox, just like it is in any game where players can affect other players. This is of course if unless you have a different idea of what griefing is than something like: The act of gaining pleasure or satisfaction primary from causing distress or making others miserable.
This means the griefer must do the griefing BECAUSE they like causing emotional discomfort in others, as opposed to doing it for other gains (power, conquering, domination) and emotional distress just being an unimportant side effect of that. So just because a open pvp sandbox is based on fighting, power, domination, and those who play know this, you can still have players who grief. The target (those who feel emotional distress) can not determine whether they have been griefed or just “owned”, the difference is about the reasons of the one who does the act.

DeadlyAccurate
Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
DeadlyAccurate

Of course you can grief in an open-world PvP sandbox. The definition of what, specifically, counts as griefing may be different, but it’s certainly possible. Camping newbie spawn points to gank people who have no way of fighting back or escaping is one way. You’re not getting anything for killing them. You’re not helping them become better fighters. You’re just ruining their play experience, over and over and over.