Kill the bully

Bullies - you’ve got to pity them. They live like emperors at school - dishing out nuclear wedgies, swiping pocket money and calling your mom a slut -then they fall from grace as soon as they’re expelled. At best, a former bully gets to ask: “Do you want fries with that?” Most likely though, he’ll drive a stolen Toyota into an ATM and do three to five in "guard your booty-hole" prison.

Apart from amusement arcades, parks and bicycle sheds, bullies enjoy hanging out online, where they’re known as griefers, or hateful dicks. They can be found flaunting their ASBO-meriting behaviors in WoW, Star Wars Galaxies, Battlefield… even The Sims Online. So if you own embroidered pillowcases, you might want to bury your head beneath them, cuzthe following will get you all in a fluster.

According to “Typical griefer behavior includes: taunting others, especially beginners; thwarting fellow team-mates in the game; cheating; forming roving gangs with other griefers; blocking entryways; luring monsters towards unsuspecting players; or otherwise using the game to annoy a convenient target or to harass a particular player.”

The seeds of intimidation were sewn back in the late 1990s in Ultima Online, when carpentry griefers sandwiched unsuspecting players with household furniture. One prankster would chuck a chest of drawers in front, another lob a piano to the rear. The result: your avatar ended up as immobile as a grandfather clock on the Antiques Roadshow. What, you don't regularly watch PBS? For shame.

Amusing tomfoolery soon descended into downright nastiness as Player Killers in MMORPGs like EverQuest lured newbies into hidden areas, often under the premise of friendship, thenchoppedup their heads with axes and stole all their possessions. Although mutual murder is part and parcel of many games, a level-50 player gets little reward or benefit from executing a newbie. Only sadistic satisfaction.

And so griefers became the bane of online worlds. One Battlefield 2 griefer boasted about how he took advantage of a glitch to ride the wing of a plane, shot the pilot in the head upon take-off, and then parachuted to safety. In The Sims Online, an opportunistic madam called Evangeline set up in-game brothels, then forced newbies into virtual sex slavery.