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10 tips for dealing with game cyberbullies and griefers
November 4, 2004

Known as griefers, snerts, cheese players, twinks, or just plain cyberbullies, chances are that a kid near you has been bothered by one of these ne'er-do-wells at least once while playing online multiplayer video games such as Halo 2, EverQuest, The Sims Online, SOCOM, and Star Wars Galaxies. Griefers are the Internet equivalent of playground bullies, who find fun in embarrassing and pushing around others.

What griefers do
Typical griefer behavior includes: taunting others, especially beginners (also known as newbies); thwarting fellow teammates in the game; using inappropriate language; cheating; forming roving gangs with other griefers; blocking entryways; luring monsters toward unsuspecting players; or otherwise using the game merely to annoy a convenient target or to harass a particular player who has reacted to their ill will.

Although they are only a small percentage of the video-gaming community, griefers have some gaming companies concerned about losing subscribers. As a result, many game sites and providers are becoming less tolerant of griefers and are employing new methods to police for them and otherwise limit their impact.

The best way to deal with griefers is to educate yourself and prepare your kids on how to deal with them on their own terms. Here are ten tips to help you handle griefers.

10 tips for dealing with griefers
1. Ignore them. If your child doesn't react to them, most griefers will eventually get bored and go away.

2. Change game options. Have your kids play games with changeable rules or options that prevent certain griefer tactics, such as eliminating teammates.

3. Create a private game. Most newer, multiplayer video games and related sites allow players to form their own exclusive games that permit only their friends to play.

4. Play on sites with strict rules. Play on game sites with enforceable codes of conduct or terms of service and live game administrators who can ban serial griefers.

5. Do something else. If a griefer won't stop bothering your child, have them try a different game, or take a break and come back later.

6. Report game glitches. Work with your child to identify exploitable glitches in the game or new methods of cheating. Report these to the game site administrator.

7. Play games that limit griefers. Suggest playing newer games that provide specific resources for dealing with griefers, such as reporting offenders to game administrators, message blocking or muting, and being able to vote griefers off.

8. Don't fight fire with fire. Make sure your child isn't using griefers' own tactics against them, as this will likely encourage more bad behavior, or worse, label your child as a griefer.

9. Avoid using provocative names. Preempt any problems by having your child avoid screen names or nicknames (often referred to as gamertags) that could encourage griefer behavior.

10. Don't give out personal information. Griefers (or anyone else) can use real names, phone numbers, and home or e-mail addresses, to further harass your child or cause other problems.