The Cranky Sysadmin A world of technology, fun, and ignorant rants.

February 2, 2009

Is it All Just Pixels?

Filed under: Games — Cranky Sysadmin @ 12:14 pm

Recently, in both WoW and in EVE, I came across people who were griefing other folks. The griefers were saying that the “carebears” were “crying over their pixels”. For the uninitiated, carebears (I qualify as one of these) are folks who don’t PvP much, and find other things in an online game to have fun with. Griefing is arguably, anything done to give someone a hard time in game. In WoW, this mostly limited to corpse camping and flagging PvP next to a crowded summoning stone. In EVE (hi-sec), it includes things like can flipping, blowing up people’s cargo containers, and bumping ships. I’m not sure piracy really counts as griefing, but there are some common aspects. In lo-sec and 0.0 space, it’s common for a pirate to destroy not only the ship, but also the escape pod. This is completely unnecessary, but is a common part of the culture.

So is it all “just pixels” as some would say? Is a web site just pixels? Is a customer database just pixels? I think it’s a matter of degree. I pay for those pixels in WoW and in EVE. I expend energy getting those pixels, so they have value to me. Were I so inclined, I could even get real cash for some of those pixels. I’m sure the executives and developers at Blizzard and CCP think the worlds they have toiled for years on are more then just pixels. My opinion is that the term, “just pixels” is specious and is an excuse for uncivil behavior. This relaxed attitude to other people’s stuff in online games is probably related to a similar effect seen in email or in your own car, where folks who usually wouldn’t be uncivil are willing to act in uncivil ways just because you can’t see the other person’s face.

What’s a person to do about this? I don’t think griefing and piracy will go away. If one wants to enjoy online games, one has to realize that there are uncivil folks out there, and that their numbers will probably be artificially high. Be smart and find a way to live with it. Don’t do things to invite griefing or piracy. In EVE, keep a low profile. Don’t transport high value items in a rookie ship (or an industrial). Learn to travel in a safe way (don’t use autopilot and use your map to see kill statistics). Read the Terms of Use carefully, so you know what is valid PvP and what isn’t. Learn the mechanics of the game so you know how to be safe. Don’t whine about your losses in the forums. All you do is invite derision. Use it as a learning experience and be more careful in the future or find a safer game.

PvP is a major component of life in EVE (more-so then WoW), so I don’t expect CCP to make EVE a safer place. In my case, I’ll probably just bite the bullet (maybe literally), outfit some cheap PVP ships and go practice pirate hunting in lo-sec and 0.0. I don’t think I can enjoy outright piracy, but bounty hunting could be fun. There are pirate hunting corps out there. Maybe I’ll join one.

In a dangerous virtual world one has to be situationally aware, but I think it’s also completely possible to have fun just like in the real world.

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