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Griefing

Griefing – The term “griefing” refers to the disruptive and malicious behavior of certain players who seek to annoy, irritate, or hinder the gaming experience of other users within a virtual environment. This practice can manifest itself in various ways, from direct actions such as deliberate sabotage of the game to more subtle, but equally harmful, behaviors such as constant provocation or failure to comply with established game rules.

A fundamental concern of griefing in esports is its impact on the gaming community and competitive environment. Players who practice it often seek to generate discord, frustration, and unrest among other participants, which can trigger internal conflicts, decrease the quality of social interactions, and affect the reputation of the community as a whole. This behavior not only affects individual players but can also weaken group cohesion and foster a climate of hostility and mistrust.

It is important to highlight that griefing not only affects the social and emotional dimension of esports but can also have direct consequences on the development of games and team performance. Players who engage in griefing often divert their attention from the objectives of the game, thus harming the strategy and coordination of the team they belong to. This lack of commitment to the game and the competitive spirit can translate into poor performance, tactical errors and unfavorable game situations that negatively affect the team’s overall performance.

To address the problem of griefing in esports, it is essential to promote a culture of respect, collaboration, and fair play among players, as well as encourage the adoption of preventive and corrective measures by game developers and the organizations that manage the competitions. Some effective strategies to combat griefing include implementing reporting and sanctioning systems to identify and penalize players who engage in this type of behavior, promoting awareness campaigns about the importance of fair play, and working together within the community of players, event organizers and game developers to create safe, inclusive, and respectful environments.

Legal Debates

Griefing has also generated legal debates and situations that have required intervention by authorities and game developers. In many cases, griefing has led to conflicts between players, video game companies and virtual communities, raising legal challenges in terms of liability, regulation, and enforcement.

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According to an article in ScienceDirect, grief has evolved from being a nuisance to becoming a “social disease” in virtual worlds, even being compared to crime in the real world.[1] It is highlighted that, in some cases, griefing has given rise to criminal activities such as scams, frauds and Ponzi schemes within online games. This evolution raises questions about law enforcement in virtual environments and the responsibility of players for their actions within games.

The UCI Law Scholarship document addresses the intersection between game rules, legal regulations, and end-user license agreements (EULA) in online gaming.[2] It is highlighted that disruptive practices in massive online games (MMOGs) can generate legal and ethical conflicts, and that the emergence of community norms in these environments raises challenges about which regulatory body should arbitrate and resolve conflicts.

Companies like Blizzard Entertainment have implemented software components to combat griefing. Games like Second Life have established community rules that prohibit harassment and assault, imposing sanctions such as warnings, suspensions, or bans on players who violate these rules. Thus, several companies are taking increasingly active measures against griefing, with the support of the community itself.

Conclusion

Ultimately, griefing represents a significant challenge that requires collaboration and commitment from all actors involved to ensure the integrity, fun and competitiveness of online games. By addressing this problem proactively and collectively, it is possible to build healthier, more supportive and enriching virtual communities, where the passion for video games and competition is enhanced by mutual respect, camaraderie, and sportsmanship. The measures taken by some companies to combat griefing illustrate the complexity of addressing this phenomenon from a legal and ethical perspective, thus generating a broad debate that does not begin or end in esports or with the players.


[1] A Adrian, ‘Beyond griefing: virtual crime’ (2010) 26(6) Computer Law & Security Review 640.

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[2] S Humphreys, ‘Griefing, Massacres, Discrimination, and Art: The Limits of Overlapping Rule Sets in Online Games’ (2012) 2(2) UC Irvine Law Review 507.

Author

  • David Santiváñez

    David Santiváñez is the inspirational founder and chief leader of GameMetron Law Firm, a pioneering firm providing legal services to the creative industry and esports in LATAM. Passionate about gaming culture, his profound knowledge and extensive experience have led him to collaborate with prominent indie gaming companies and creative entities in the region, as well as with various esports teams and personalities in Latin America. His expertise extends beyond the legal realm; he also stands out as a mentor in movements and non profit organizations such as the IGDA Foundation, Global Game Jam, and GameJamPlus, among others, always seeking to foster entrepreneurship, creativity, and disseminate legal knowledge in a dynamic and understandable way. In addition to his outstanding performance as a lawyer, David has shared his experience through teaching. He has been invited as a professor in various programs related to esports, such as ISDE Law & Business School in Spain in 2019 the Saudi Esports Academy in Saudi Arabia in 2022 and the Sports Law Diploma of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in 2019 and 2020. He has also taught classes in institutions related to law and traditional education, such as Universidad Nueva Galicia (from 2021 to 2023) and the Universidad Contemporanea de las Américas (UNICLA) in Mexico in Outside of his role at GameMetron Law Firm, from 2018 to 2020, he served as Senior Legal Counsel at DEVHR, the international forum for gaming professionals. In March 2020, he founded the Esports Directorate of the Cámara de Comercio de México (CANACO), currently under the direction of Hugo Sánchez, a prominent figure in esports in Mexico and the region. Additionally, he has collaborated with the Instituto Nacional de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información y Protección de Datos Personales (INAI) as an advocate for the protection of personal data for children and adolescents in accessing video games as well as with the Secretaría de Seguridad y Protección Ciudadana of Mexico (during Cybersecurity Week), evangelizing and promoting cybersecurity for parents and youth in the gaming and cyberspace environment. David is a prominent member of organizations such as the Video Games Bar Association (the Esports Bar Association (EBA) and the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). He is also recognized as a legal expert in intellectual property matters on the Safe Creative platform and is part of the select group of professionals endorsing arbitration as a method of conflict resolution called WIPO ADR Young, belonging to the World Intellectual Property Organization. Currently, David is pursuing an MBA at ThePower Business School and continues to lead GameMetron Law Firm while overseeing the firm’s expansion throughout Latin America, directing strategies from the offices in Peru.

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