I previously asked what is Smurfing and got an explanation that it was a subset of griefing. So now this begs the question....

What is griefing? Is Griefing really the major classification of harassment to be used in all of gaming? I thought it got started in Second Life but it seems to have become a larger part of the lexicon used to describe all other forms of 'gaming douchebaggery'.

3 Answers 3


Griefing is the deliberate, indiscriminate and repeated harassment of other players - with generally little actual benefit to one's own character.

It is essentially a "play style" where the player derives satisfaction from the discomfort he causes others instead from the accomplishments provided by the game itself.

This stands in contrast to unintentional bad behavior resulting from inexperience and also in contrast to harassment of specific players as can be part of a personal feud.

Some examples:

  • Repeated killing of significantly less advanced characters
  • Denying other players access to important resources by looting them aways immediately after they reappear.
  • Denying less advanced players experience by out damaging them and claiming the kills for yourself
  • Stealing the fruits of other player's labor by looting their slain monsters before they get around to it
  • Convincing less experienced players to do things that will harm their progress.
  • Training monsters to areas populated by player that cannot defend themself from them.

Like Mechko said: Bullying in the gaming world...

  • 1
    It's a bit wider than that. Generally, disrupting your enemies or their friends (in such a way that they can't fight back effectively) with the intent of messing with their goals and/or drawing out their main forces is also usually considered as griefing, but it isn't simply "bullying" - it actually has a purpose. Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 12:50
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    Bullying is the wider term here. Not griefing. Also, since when has bullying been without purpose? There're reasons -- Albeit unsavory ones. Lastly, I've not heard of griefing used in that instance. We used to simply say "messing around" but I'll keep that in mind for the future!
    – victoroux
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 15:43
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    Pool's closed. Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 20:53
  • Shouldn't that be 'kiting' monsters?
    – IG_42
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 17:38

Griefing is definitely not a term that originated in Second Life. It's a form of trolling.

Wikipedia describes a griefer as

a player in a multiplayer video game that purposely irritates and harasses other players.

The most common form of griefing is exploiting certain game mechanics to disrupt other players in your team, like team-killing or blocking other players. It can also be someone who harasses other players, verbally or otherwise.

  • 1
    But trolling isn't exclusive to gaming though. I find it more prevalent on forums.
    – mugafuga
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 12:07
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    another example would be in MMOs where the players respawn after death: a griefer would be likely to "camp" that location (especially if they are of a higher level, or if the ressurecting player will come back with less than full health) and continue to kill that player over and over.
    – mfg
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 13:10
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    Griefing is really bullying in the gaming world. Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 13:13
  • 1
    To hell with spawncampers. Those level 60s should have things to do aside from camping lowbies in STV. Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 13:40
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    @mugafuga Trolling occurs anywhere there are groups of people and anonymity. Commented Aug 22, 2010 at 19:03

Griefing is intentionally acting in a way that annoys other players in a multiplayer game. This can both be targeted actions (e.g. always irritating the same person) or generally against everyone/anyone in the game.

Someone who performs such actions are often labelled as a griefer.

Some common methods include:

  • Friendly fire, whether to kill or injure members of your team
  • Spawn killing
  • Blocking, such as standing in a doorway to prevent others from passing
  • Spamming communications, such as playing loud music through a headset

Targeted griefing can also be labelled as bullying.

Is Griefing really the major classification of harassment to be used in all of gaming?

Yes, I would say so. Server admins (for games that offer it) will often have rules against such actions, and will be on the lookout for such actions.

Other forms of harassment may exist (bullying, racism, sexism) but many of these require functionality such as voice or messaging. Griefing can be pulled off using only the in game mechanics. From a griefers perspective you would assume they would get satisfaction from their harassment.

I would also say that there is an argument for too many examples being labelled as griefing, such as kill stealing or looting in general. Sure, it may annoy a player if someone steals their kill... but if the player who performed the kill is playing the game as it is then it shouldn't be claimed as griefing. However, it can be treated as griefing. This will vary per game, server admin, general tolerance of the available players etc.

You will also have different degrees of griefing. Whereas some players will spend their entire time annoying other players intentionally, others may perform an occasional tease such as stand in the view of a friendly sniper.

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