The term “griefing” describes the many different ways that players find to harass, annoy and hinder other players in a game through the use of social engineering, deconstruction or construction. In Minecraft, players can grief others by placing blocks around buildings without permission, destroying structures, stealing resources and repeatedly killing or trapping other player characters. Open multiplayer servers often need to be actively managed by server administrators to prevent harassment and griefing.
History of Griefing
Griefing can be observed in practically every type of multiplayer game, even those that have no direct player-versus-player function. This unpleasant practice has been around for about as long as online multiplayer games have. There are many different types of griefers. Some people cause havoc to generate attention or because they are bored. A vendetta against a particular player, because of something they said or did, can also prompt a series griefing and harassment.
As the online gaming population grows, so does the number of griefers. In fact, griefing has become pseudo-acceptable in some games. Entire communities of people gather together with the primary purpose of griefing others. Thanks to the creation of a number of anti-griefing techniques and tools, sever administrators have so far been able to keep up with griefers and their methods.
Basic Griefing Methods and Prevention
Destruction: This type of griefing is simply destroying as many naturally generated or player-placed blocks as possible to make the terrain less appealing and ruin structures. Players with hacked clients or those in creative mode can easily destroy large amounts of blocks with little effort.
Prevention: Equip server with zone protection or roll-back modifications. This allows you to inhibit or undo excessive block destruction.
Creation: Encasing a player in obsidian blocks or spam-placing blocks around a player’s structures is also a form of griefing. It can take a long time to harvest obsidian blocks scattered around a building.
Prevention: See Destruction prevention.
Chat Spamming: Chat spam is an annoying, but less aggressive, form of harassment. By constantly sending messages in multiplayer games, a player can lag the server and prevent other players from communicating with each other.
Prevention: Server admin can remove or mute the player, or install a modification that prevents chat spam.
Abusive Mob Spawning: Spawning mobs in creative mode, or by modifying/hacking the game files, is one of the most aggravating forms of griefing in Minecraft. Excess mobs cause significant server lag, and hostile mobs can kill players and destroy blocks. Spawning dozens of ghasts around someone’s base can cause a lot of damage in a short time.
Prevention: Players with permission to enter server commands can type “/killall” to remove all spawned entities from the game. While this does get rid of all the mobs spawned by a griefer, it also removes natural mobs and placed vehicles.
Flooding (Water or Lava): Griefers can place water or lava source blocks around the terrain or on someone’s structure to vandalize it or make it impassable. It takes a long time to completely remove a large lava flow if it is placed on top of a hill or pillar.
Prevention: Download server modifications that let you remove blocks. You can also set the server to only allow certain players to place liquid source blocks.
Spawn Camping: This form of griefing is one of the most detrimental, because it discourages new players from participating on a server at all. Griefers “spawn camp” players by repeatedly killing them at the same location that they respawn in, so the player being griefed has little or no chance of escaping the loop of death.
Prevention: You can turn off player-versus-player capabilities in certain parts of a PvP server map to give players a safe place to spawn. Creating several escape paths from the spawn can also help players get away from griefers.
Tree Griefing: Some griefers plant a large number of saplings and fertilize them with bonemeal to make them grow fast. While this is a legitimate mechanic, it can be used to “destroy” non-forest biomes and make a mess of someone else’s area. This type of griefing was more effective before the developers included a way to undo tree growth.
Fire Griefing: Arson can also be a problem on Minecraft servers. Players can use lava, fire charges or flint and steel to light other player’s buildings on fire. This is particularly annoying if the building are made of wool, wood or other burnable blocks. Fire can spread to many types of wooden blocks and completely destroy them.
Prevention: Make fire tiles unable to spread to new blocks with server modifications.
Canon Griefing: Canon’s are player-made structures that propel lit TNT towards a specific location. Griefers can create makeshift cannons relatively easily and shoot other players’ buildings.
Prevention: Disable TNT permissions on the server.
Social Engineering: Griefers employing this strategy are more difficult to detect or prevent than other types. These players pretend to enjoy participating in normal server activities and may even establish friendships with other players over a period of time. They violate the trust they created once they are in a position to do a lot of harm.
Prevention: Hand out permission and privileges to players prudently.
Map Corrupting: Players can decrease the quality of server performance by intentionally exploring as much terrain as they can, which forces the game to process and load that area’s information afterwards.
Prevention: Roll the server back to before the map was explored.
Tower Killing: Some griefers abuse server permissions to teleport other players against their will. They construct a high vertical fall and teleport normal players to the top and let them fall down to die. Other forms of teleportation harassment are possible.
Prevention: Disallow teleportation modifications on the server.
Nuking: Nuking is similar to the “destruction” griefing, but it describes events that are on a much larger scale. Players can construct cubes of TNT in the terrain and blow them up to destroy a large number of surrounding blocks. Enough TNT on the surface can create a hole that goes all the way to the bedrock layer and reaches dozens or hundreds of blocks across. Spawning multiple creepers in a small area can have a similar effect.
Prevention: Manage player permissions and potentially disable TNT blocks and creeper spawning on the server.
Modifying the Minecraft game client, which is commonly called “hacking,” allows players to perform various operations that they would normally not be able to do. Players can control which blocks are rendered by their computer, so they can see through solid walls. The client can also be modified to let players fly on survival mode servers, break blocks instantly, become immune to damage and effect blocks around themselves abnormally.
Some client mods can give a griefer the power to crash a server by suddenly destroying a large number of blocks or by spamming the chat window at an extraordinary rate. Some players even give themselves a “damage aura” that kills any players or mobs that come within a certain distance of them.
There are several ways server administrators can help protect their players from griefers:
- Download and install plugin modifications to discourage various forms of griefing.
- Watch other moderators and make sure they are using their power for good reasons. If you suspect someone of griefing or harassing because of a special permission, remove it temporarily until you can discuss the issue.
- Set up limits for what new players can do, which are gradually removed as the player spends more time on the server and is known to be trustworthy.
- Be aware of popular griefing strategies as well as new forms of harassment that become available when game files are updated.