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Griefing, trolling, flaming -it all started in one place; an early multiplayer game called MajorMUD. Anyone who plays an online video game or been on a forum or message board probably already knows what those words mean, but I’ll skim over them really quick for anyone uninitiated.

MajorMUD – The MUD stands for “Multi-User-Dungeon” and the “Major “part refers to the type of bulletin board software it was meant to run on -in this case Major BBS. What it was was a text-based multiplayer video game, kind of like the uber popular World of Warcraft we’ve got nowadays, only without the pretty graphics, sound and anything else visually or audibly appealing. You just got different colored text. e.g. You are standing knee deep in stagnant water outside of the graveyard. The wind whips across your face, tickling your whiskers and bending the dead branches of the bony willow trees that flank the front gate…”

”A skeleton shambles in from the South.”

It’s like Dungeons and Dragons, minus the know-it-all at the end of the table telling everyone what to do. Here, the game was in control, and because you were playing with other people at the same time, that meant human interaction in an all new semi-anonymous frontier. Thus leading us to:

Now, I’m going to prefix this next part by saying that all of these words can be summed up by simply calling the perpetrator (or perpetrators in the case of flaming) big fat jerks. It’s how the jerkery is applied that defines the offense, however.

Continuing on…

Griefing – Griefing is killing another player over and over again. No matter if it’s MajorMUD or World of Warcraft, it means the exact same thing. It’s like bullying, but in the case of MajorMUD things could get serious pretty fast because all of the items and loot left on your corpse when you died automatically became free-range and were most likely already in the clutches of another player. Real-life fights have broken out because of this, but only because back then you had a better chance of meeting a fellow MajorMUD player who was on your local BBS, than the South Korean teenager who just killed your World of Warcraft character for the millionth time in a row. Wow players don’t have to worry about item theft, but they do have to worry about hoofing it all the way back to their death site. Even then, your killer may be waiting next to your corpse waiting to kill you again. This is called “camping”, for anyone curious.

Flaming – Yes, I realize I’m not going in any particular order with these, but I’m saving the most heinous offense for last. Besides, flaming is an easy term to define. Basically, flaming is any text-based fight between two people. It’s usually a disagreement that turns rude and then eventually degrades into name-calling and slurs. This phenomenon usually occurred in MajorMUD after the aforementioned Griefing encounter, with one party saying all is fair in love and MUD and the other adamantly disagreeing in a battle to get his stolen Manticore Tail +5 back. “Your mother” jokes were soon to follow,and both parties ended out getting banned from the BBS for a week or two as a result. Good fun -if you don’t want to play your favorite game for weeks, that is.

Trolling – Like the evil under the bridge, trolling is the concept of being a @#%$ because the anonymity of the Internet allows one to do so. Whether it’s going into a forum and deliberately responding in an offense manner, antagonizing someone in a video game or in a chat room or making liberal use of racial slurs, this is the bottom level of Internet user. MajorMUD was unfortunately the grand-daddy of this, too, because some people would specifically create characters just to mess with people and nothing more.

Actually, now that it’s all laid out in front of me, I think MajorMUD was more like an incubator for such activities and not the whole reason online interactions suck. Stupid, intolerant people are the reason it sucks…

I guess the moral of the story and comprehensive umbrella for all these terms is: Just because nobody knows who you are doesn’t mean you have the right to be a total (expletive deleted).

~Andrew

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3 Responses to “The Early Days of Grief”

  1. Charles says:

    To bad it’s not confined to internet. It happens way too much in real everyday life

  2. Kathy says:

    I play online spades and some of the people play like it was real money and life or death. I’m like get a life for heaven’s sake these are the ones that only play with you if you have a super high standing or rating. It gets old and I laugh and think I’ve been doing spades longer than some of you have been alive, well almost I’ve been married 39 years learned to play in 1971 after I married.

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