Spectacular Interventions of Second Life: Goon Culture, Griefing, and Disruption in Virtual Spaces

Burcu S. Bakioglu

Abstract


Employing game theory and cultural studies in order to make a much needed distinction between grief play (which is a type of game play) and griefing (as a disruptive cultural activity), I argue that griefers in Second Life, who engage in potentially subversive practices which residents recognize as characterizing the activities of subcultures, construct cultural formations, a term developed by Raymond Williams in his book The Sociology of Culture to describe groups that embody looser structures. Claiming that they are causing turmoil for the lulz (or laughs), they treat their activities as mere game play. However, underneath the rhetoric of game play based on targeting those who take the “Internet as serious business,” there exists a cultural phenomenon with serious effects. They not only jam the world’s signification system and subvert the bourgeois taste by spamming the environment with offensive objects (such as penises, swastikas, and communist symbols), but also attack the capitalistic ideology by crashing sims and significant media events, and regularly launching raids in-world which result in causing in-world businesses to lose money, thereby hurting the virtual economy at large.

Keywords


griefers, Second Life, virtual worlds, cultural studies, 4chan, Something Awful

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The full website for the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research can be found at: http://jvwresearch.org