The Ideal Environment for Schadenfreude

Tara has a post about why she dislikes PvP servers in World of Warcraft:

People hunt down and kill easy marks, just because they can. Then, when those victims get to a higher level, they do the same thing. I get beat, I beat someone else. It’s classic bully behavior, and it really bothers me. I’m not just talking about how annoying it is to get ganked over and over when trying to do the simplest things in game. I’m talking about what it says about people that so many of us find satisfaction in torturing and tormenting other people. They gain pleasure from wreaking havoc and making things difficult for others.

The PvP structure in WoW has created an environment where vindictiveness is encouraged and perpetuated in a continuous cycle. It brings out the worst in people. When they’re a lowbie and get ganked for the first time when they’re out questing, they feel angry. They want revenge. So they say to themselves, “When I’m level 60, I’m going to hunt that guy down and kill him” or “If those level 60s are wasting their time killing me, though I’m worth no Honour, I’m going to do the same to their lowbie allies. They make my gaming experience miserable, so I’m going to do the same.” When they do take their revenge, when they do gank those lowbies, they derive so much glee, so much satisfaction. How is it cool to take pleasure from making others miserable?

It’s irritating that this sort of behaviour isn’t discouraged enough. Getting a Dishonourable Kill doesn’t seem to be enough of a deterrent, since the disruptive and malicious ganking is so widespread.

EDIT: I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently there is absolutely no deterrent for killing other player-characters that are “grey” (e.g. worth no Honour points). You only get a Dishonourable Kill if you kill civillian NPCs or vendors.

From the World of Warcraft FAQ:

What is a ‘Dishonorable kill’?

Any NPC that is marked with the green word ‘Civilian’ in its tooltip is considered a ‘dishonorable kill’. The ‘Civilian’ marking will be applied to general NPC’s such as vendors and quest NPCs as the level of the player begins to exceed the level of the NPC. This means that players of the appropriate level are allowed to kill general NPC’s that are considered to present a fair fight.

So this means that WoW PvP is even worse than I thought it was. So let me restate my suggestion: Getting a Dishonourable Kill Killing any player-character that is grey should be further penalised by getting a Dishonourable Kill and a loss of XP and/or money, which is then given to the victim. XP or money loss should be scaled so that you lose more if the level difference between you and the victim is greater. Maybe that would discourage people from ganking lowbies.

What would prevent a large mob of lowbie characters from ganging up on a level 60 to get Honour points? Well, I suggest that the level 60 should be grey to them. In addition, how about if you could only gain Honour by killing other player-characters within X number of levels (say 5) of your own level?

I was certainly angry when high level Horde players killed me without provocation and without the possibility of gaining Honour points. Killing me for Honour, I understand and accept; that’s what you’re supposed to do. Otherwise, people are just being assholes. I thought about the situation for a bit, and what this sort of behaviour said about the people behind those player-characters. Engaging in the sort of spiteful cycle of revenge that others so gleefully and thoughtlessly participate in is a dreadful practice, and paints a rather depressing picture of the people who do these things.

I am not sure that it would be fun for me if I tried to fight another player of a similar level. I accept my lack of skill and experience, and understand that it’s frustrating for anyone to go up against players who have been PvP-ing for a long time and who have learned the best tactics for fighting the various different classes. It’s not like I haven’t fought people in Tekken who are better than me, or been outscored at DDR by people of a similar skill level. I doubt that in any potential random encounter, I would have good odds of winning because I expect the opposition to be better outfitted than me and more skilled than me. Fighting against a more skilled player, I can deal with. It means I would need to practice, to learn some tactics, to understand how fights work in WOW, etc. However, I haven’t got the time to grind for uber gear, which can really make the difference in an otherwise equal fight.

I had a goal to try and make it as far as I could without killing any Horde. Obviously, I couldn’t avoid meeting any Horde at all, so my participation in PvP was strictly as a non-agressor, or “victim” if you will. I know it was perhaps a stupid goal to have, playing on a PvP server, but I wanted to see how far I could make it. It was a challenge I set myself.

Unfortunately, I failed. I managed to get 3 kills because I found myself in a Battleground, not knowing how to leave before my party started killing. I was in Darnassus, checking my auctions, when some random person whispered me. He wanted me to invite him to a party and get him in the queue to Arathi Basin. Obviously, his messages were more like, “Cn u queue me in BG in AB? accept invite! Plzzz!!!” rather than actual English. He was being really persistent, and like an idiot I tried to help him out. I wanted him to stop pestering me. I was just logging in to check my auctions, geez. I had no idea what he was talking about or who to talk to for this. I happened to be on the phone with Id, so he directed me to the relevant NPCs. I got in the queue, and before I knew it, I was transported to the Arathi Basin Battleground.

I wanted to get out, but asking people how to leave the instance met with no success. “How do I leave?” I asked. My character was inside a house of some sort. Someone replied, “Just walk out. LOL.” Gee thanks. I was getting more agitated. Before long the battle started, with Horde swarming all over the place. The Battlegrounds Leader was shouting at our team, calling people names, and saying stuff like, “I bet you all have grey gear!” Whatever. I didn’t know what to do. I wandered out and got killed a couple of times. I logged out, but that didn’t work either. I was at a loss, and this made me anxious. I made my character sit down. Finally, a guildmate happened to login, so I asked him. Apparently, I just have to type “/afk.”

God, I felt like a n00b. Anyway, as a result of that, I now have 3 kills on my record. I was very disappointed that I couldn’t even make it to level 30 without killing another player. While I didn’t technically kill, being in a party that killed other players made me an accessory, and therefore the computer says I have 3 kills.

I know that I wasn’t playing the game “right” and that on a PvP server you’re “supposed” to fight the other faction. Apparently, as a Warlock, I’m supposed to be really uber at PvP and that people will expect me to fight. I knew eventually that I would probably have to kill Horde to defend myself, but I was hoping that it would be when I was level 35 or higher. I am just about to hit level 26.

I will defend myself from Horde who start a fight with me, who I can’t get away from. I expect people to want to kill me, especially in Horde territory. I will not, however, start fights with players on the opposing side, even if I can gain Honour points by killing them. If a lone Horde player that is so powerful that I can’t even see what level the are (“?? Level”) approaches me and doesn’t immediately attack, I will /wave to them or /greet them and run away. If they start to attack, and I have time before they slay me, I will either /sit or /sleep. If people think I’m stupid for being a “care bear” on a PvP server, for not totally conforming to the server’s “requirements” and resisting the server’s cultural environment, I don’t care.

Will I call for help from allies in the area if people are ganking me and making the game difficult to play? Calling for help would perpetuate the cycle. Not calling for help makes the game extremely frustrating because of all the interruptions. If too many players are being disruptive to me time and again, I would have to call for help or else suffer. Unfortunately, I am another cog in this big PvP machine, which so effectively dredges up some rather deplorable examples of human behaviour.

  7 comments for “The Ideal Environment for Schadenfreude

  1. Cecily
    11 November 2006 at 19:29

    I hate PVP too…so much that I made a second character on a PVE server, even though I knew fewer people that played there. It’s especially annoying when people say, “You signed up for this!” when a total newb, like I was, has NO idea how bad the PVP environment is, or that anyone in their right mind would spend hours ganking lowbies just to watch them die. I hear they’ve changed realm transfers so that you CAN actually go from PVP –> PVE now…if so, maybe I’ll play again someday.

  2. 12 November 2006 at 18:17

    PvP servers really are for those who haven’t yet dealt with their childhood abuse, and suchlike. Seeing as you can quite happily PvP all day long against willing targets on a PvE server, the sole attraction of a PvP realm is really to murder the helpless. Anyone who doesn’t want to murder or be murdered normally chooses a PvE realm, so if you’re on PvP you really have kind of subscribed to playing with a server full of knuckle-dragging 13-year-old gorillas called “Punch McFacey”, who will be after your lunch money.

    I mean, not to generalise or anything, but…

  3. Anonymous Coward
    13 November 2006 at 05:55

    I don’t really get people who create their characters on a PVP server knowing that they’ll get pissed off when they get killed. It’s not like the rules are unclear or anything.

    Then we get to hear the constant bickering on the forums: “Person A is a child molester because he killed my lvl 20/30/52 alt on the way to B instance”. Why God why? Why did you let these people leave the PvE servers?

    Even worse are the C types of people. They not only cry their hearts out when they get killed, they return to their corpse to resurrect not one or two times, but literary 20 times or more. And then they bitch about it. What the hell is up with that? They could have ended it after the first kill but no, they had to be all masochistic and do the exact same mistake a dozen times or more. And of course, afterwards they go on forums and throw a fit. WTF?

    I’m not saying this as an elitist jackass who gets his nuts off from stomping level 20 gnomes into the ground, but as a player who prefers PvP based realms because of the *gasp* PvP element. I get very little fun out of killing the same damn pigs/skeletons/bears or whatever. Non consensual pvp gives me a small charge down the spine.

    It’s a very small risk, but it’s better than nothing. It’s consensual (you CHOSE the pvp server remember?) and does not hurt anybody. If you deliberately chose a PvP server and still argue over being killed I got only one thing to say to you: reroll PVE. It’s not personal, it’s not me believing that I’m better than you, it’s just different strokes for different folks.

    It’s ok, really. Not everyone is suited for the PvP ruleset.

  4. Dan
    13 November 2006 at 09:37

    I recall one instance of this ridiculous bullying behavior in which I was attacked by no less than 5 high level horde at once, dressed as pirates no less.

    what transpired was a truly bizarre virtual re-enactment of those scenes you see in hollywood dross where the jocks steal something from the nerd with a heart of gold and proceed to throw it between them like a piggy in the middle game.
    It was ridiculous- these morons all stood around me in a circle repeatedly polymorphing me into a sheep. every time the spell ran out i’d recieve another, untill finally they killed me. It went on for about 15 mins or so.
    these are clearly the biggest bunch of cretins around, or as Greg said, real life victims of bullying acting out some bizzare revenge fantasy…

  5. 13 November 2006 at 11:53

    GregT: Though I protest the shittiness of the PvP server, I have indeed signed up for this detestable environment, however I stand by my opinion. The PvP system in WoW needs some serious fixing. Unfortunately, my characters have to live on a PvP server because that is where a few people I know (both Horde and Alliance) keep their characters.

    Dan: That’s absolutely horrible. I feel almost lucky that the excessively awful things that have happened to other people on PvP servers hasn’t (yet) happened to me. Getting corpse-camped and killed repeatedly, or being killed in 3 seconds flat by a passing level 60 Horde seems nothing compared to that shit.

  6. Cecily
    13 November 2006 at 20:12

    Wow…15 minutes? I’ve had that sheep-sheep-sheep thing done to me too, but never for that long.

    Here’s a great one though…I’ve several times seen a lone Horde many levels lower than me (like, 10), waved to indicate I’m not going to hurt him, gone on my way, and then had him and four friends come and attack me while I’m resting up 10 minutes later. It’s like they’re trying to train the nice out of me.

    Of course, it doesn’t help that I made a paladin. Like I said, I was a newb! How was I to know that was like coating myself in gank-bait?

  7. 15 November 2006 at 18:13

    Anonymous Coward: I knowingly created my character on a PvP server to play with people I know. I have long known about the abuse and bullying that exists on PvP servers. Just because I play on PvP servers doesn’t mean I agreed to be abused. I agreed to the fact that I may encounter players on the other faction who may want to kill me. People who do not engage in fair fights are abusive and dishonourable. I did not agree to be abused.

    However, the PvP system in WoW has major flaws as I outlined above. If you get kicks out of bullying people and killing them over and over again even though they are worthless, that’s up to you and it really says a lot about you.

    Blaming the victims for resurrecting is just plain wrong. Why wouldn’t they want to resurrect their character? It’s the arsehole bullies that prevent them from going on their way, killing them, as you said “20 times or more.” It’s like blaming women for being rape victims. Get real!

    If wanting to play the game makes them masochists, then I think you need to look up what “masochist” means. Killing people over and over after they resurrect seems rather repetitive, don’t you think? Kind of like killing monsters over and over? What does that make the players who are repetitively killing other players? Sadists, right?

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