A griefer is an online gamer who participates in games with the sole goal of disrupting the gaming experience for others. Griefers and their actions can take a wide variety of forms, and they are a source of frustration for many legitimate gamers. In response, many administrators attempt to ban or otherwise penalize griefers whenever possible, so that they do not ruin the fun for others. On occasion, the term “griefer” is also used to describe disruptive individuals in the real world.
While some people use the term “griefer” more generically to describe anyone who causes grief or disruption in an online game, most people use the term specifically to refer to people who do so deliberately, taking pleasure from their actions and consequences. A griefer establishes a gaming account and a character with the sole purpose of creating chaos, rather than occasionally or unintentionally causing disruption. This distinction is meant to separate people with aggressive game styles who genuinely enjoy playing the game and interacting with others from griefers.
Griefers use a variety of tricks to irritate people. Many of them exploit certain traits of the game, taking advantage of loopholes to harass other characters. They commonly leave graffiti in game, in games where people can modify the environment, and they may insult, stalk, or harass other users. Griefers also steal goods from other gamers, attempt to get other characters killed, or violate the basic ethics of the game to achieve their desired goal of chaos.
Essentially, a griefer is a form of vandal, and while in some cases griefers may have a legitimate reason to be angry, most of them are simply using the game as a venue for torment. Griefers come from a wide range of classes, age groups, and cultural backgrounds; the thing they have in common is a taste for wanton destruction. Some are also very technically skilled, which can make it difficult to identify and stop a griefer.
For legitimate gamers, the best thing to do is ignore griefers, as they want to get a rise out of other people in the game. If a griefer is routinely harassing a particular gamer or group of gamers, the griefer should be reported to game administrators, who can take action. Some gaming sites also allow people to create private areas with restricted access; these private areas can be used to take a respite from griefers, with friends and allies being invited in to create a safe environment.