The past couple of weeks, I’ve examined the news, looking for topics for this column. There are certain subjects I’ve bypassed, not because I haven’t heard about them or couldn’t think of any quips, but the stories themselves were obvious bait.
I will argue (long after my identity is stolen, my friends’ profiles have devolved into mafia dens and virtual pastures and PayPal wipes out the human race to collect our debts) that the Internet is the greatest thing to happen to communication since the printing press. However, there is a seedier element that has spread from the online community into the established news media: trolling.
“Trolling,” for those of you who are just now joining Facebook, is the act of posting an intentionally inflammatory post in order to elicit a purely negative response. This is different from satire or parody because, when successful, the reader “sees what you did there.”
The latest top news items are trolling. Well, except Haiti …. Unless you’re Pat Robertson, but he’s God’s troll.
I fully realize that, by discussing these stories below, I’m officially not not writing about them. Just bear with me; there will be a point at the end.
Continue reading Take it from Snee: Try not giving a s#%t
Media professor David Myers, from Loyola University, has been studying how people interact in online games. Why is this of interest?
His study is based on finding out what happens when he starts trolling people. Myers has been studying human interaction in City of Heroes since it first launched all the way back in 2004, and with his character “Twixt” decided as part of his studies to push people’s buttons. When Myers first played City of Heroes and City of Villains, he noticed that the heroes and villains were not strictly playing by the rules, instead peacefully co-existing with each other and often taking out computer-controlled opponents instead of opposing factions. He decided to change all that with his character who would whisk player-controlled villains in front of a cartoon robot firing line for instant kills. He was not liked.
This is where things got nasty; while initially he was gently warned against rampant player-killing, warnings soon blossomed into threats, with Myers sent messages like “I hope your mother gets cancer.” Someone is a charmer. The abuse eventually became so intense – he was accused of being a pedophile and of being a racist – that people were directly threatening Myers and his family, leading him to report them to publishers NCSoft.
So, why did Myers, who is an avid videogamer outside of his work, strive to become the world’s most hated City of Heroes player? To prove that “modern-day social groups making use of modern-day technology can revert to “medieval and crude” methods in trying to manipulate and control others.” His findings? That it wasn’t the game rules that mattered in CoH, it was the hardcore community who sought to preserve their niche little “culture”.
“If you aren’t a member of the tribe, you get whacked with a stick,” he said. “I look at social groups with dismay.”