#3. Belan the Noble Looter (Ultima Online)
The central theme of fantasy is the hero, the chosen, one person powerful and talented enough to change the world and become legend. MMOs have all of that except for the "hero" bit. Belan the Noble Looter was one of the most famous Ultima players ever, using her amazing skills to steal belongings off dead bodies. Note: Ultima let players hang around as ghosts and watch that happen.
This is all one guy. He didn't take it well.
She maintained a standing offer to sell back almost everything she took at half price, though prices could escalate to infinity when people were rude. Note: When you're dead and the other person already has your stuff is a bad time to start haggling, and a literally beyond fatal time to be rude. She only took from corpses that died from natural causes, but since she was a tamer who trained the game's natural monsters to obey her will, this left her with loopholes big enough to throw a Frost Wyrm through. Which she frequently did.
Speak softly and carry two giant dragons.
She never stopped role playing a friendly looter, and everything she did was scrupulously game-legal. Which made the people who melted down and started screaming "faggot" even funnier. One furious player followed her home through a portal, but since a tamer's house is a menagerie of murder, it was like a gritty reboot of a Disney musical number: Every single thing in her house could move, and each one of them wanted to kill him. He ended up hiding in her shed and traded everything, including his character's pants, to be saved. Which is weird, because normally when you take off your pants to pay someone for release it's a lot more fun.
Belan works out how to pants people over the Internet.
She joined a guild sworn to kill killers, and as soon as they killed someone, she resolved the resulting logical paradox with a giant dragon.
Logical paradoxes and giant dragons don't get on.
Once she filled a booby-trapped chest with heavy but worthless firewood, then put it inside 22 more identical and equally explosively trapped chests, because that's the sort of matryoshka booby trap you can build in video games. She dropped it in a busy street and watched multiple players detonate themselves trying to hack open the world's first IED onion, and when someone finally suicided their way to the center, they found a book:
Her house had the world's most obvious trap on the roof, constantly filled with world's dumbest players' corpses.
Protip: In Ultima, barrels can be booby-trapped to release poison gas.
She was a force of nature in a video game world, and that "nature" was hilarious natural selection.
#2. Guild Farms Itself (TERA)
Bluehole Studio decided to add a layer of politics to the social dynamics of MMOs, possibly in an attempt to digitize a 10th level of hell. All they need is a reality TV stream and they'll be able to replace Satan with a rack of servers. A patch created Vanarchs, local lords who could control their area. There were two ways to gain this political power: earn enough popular votes or win a pointlessly contrived war. It was basically the Falklands expansion to TERA.
They figured some players weren't feeling entitled enough yet.
As soon as election time rolled around, all the major guilds immediately tore themselves apart with bloody infighting, just like real politics. But this wasn't stupid, unlike real politics. Large guilds were splitting into two sub-guilds that immediately started leaping onto each other's swords, generating a huge number of political points to elect the master guild's chosen candidate.
"Eh, this is OK, but I'd rather pointlessly kill myself for someone else's political gain."
It was the ultimate self-parody of the "keep clicking to make a number bigger" problem with MMOs. The players had found something even worse than murdering mindlessly respawning victims: becoming the mindlessly respawning victims. They pretty much erased the meaning of the word "player" and replaced it with the words "virtual repeat suicide cult."
They were playing against themselves instead of involving others. It was the massively multiplayer warfare version of masturbating. Massturbating, if you will. And they did. The exploit was later noticed by GMs, and players caught killtrading had their scores reset to 0. Which means they'd have been better off actually wanking, because at least that would have counted as exercise.
#1. Traitor Destroys His Entire Alliance (EVE Online)
EVE is what would happen if the entire galaxy was the Mos Eisley cantina. It's a universe where interplanetary space travel is a grinding second job utterly dominated by corporations and bastardry. Band of Brothers (BoB) were a defining force, an alliance of corporations so powerful, other players accused them of being in league with the game developers. Which turned out to be true. And they still suddenly lost everything in the most spectacular screwing in the heavens outside of a first date with Zeus.
"Once you go Zeus, you don't refuse. Probably because I've turned you into a plant or ashes or something."
While other EVE attacks have been based on subterfuge, deception, careful timing and thousands of real dollars, this one was based on someone remembering they were playing a game. It was more meta than losing a Pokemon battle because your OCD suddenly focused on how much money you'd spent. Haargoth Agamar was a high-level BoB director when he suddenly realized that he was flying a spaceship in a video game, and goddamnit, that meant he should be having fun and destroying things. And when he couldn't find any Invaders to kill, he settled for his own alliance.
A flashback to Haargoth's happy childhood.
He wandered into some pilots from GoonSwarm, another huge alliance, and decided that they were more fun to hang out with. Fun as in "Fun fact: GoonSwarm and BoB were locked in a massive war at the time." He transferred huge quantities of BoB war materiel currently aimed at the GoonSwarm directly to them instead, then destroyed BoB with a single click more devastating than the hammer of Dirty Harry's Magnum. This button was "disband guild."
The giant alliance suddenly vanished. Years of influence ratings and defensive bonuses in vast swaths of space simply disappeared, leaving legions of members to fend for themselves. Huge chunks of the fleet outright defected to GoonSwarm, while the rest demonstrated why that was a good idea by being shredded in combat. Most hilariously, GoonSwarm even stole the phrase "Band of Brothers," instantly registering an empty corporation to make sure their reeling enemies couldn't even reclaim their own name.
To crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their n00bs.
Which made it even funnier when GoonSwarm CEO Karttoon did the same thing a year later. But instead of disbanding the alliance, he took it for himself, kicking out every single corporation except the ones with all the money and ships, then taking all the money and ships. Then he moved the GoonFleet into the empty Band of Brothers alliance. After making sure nobody else had any working passwords, he abandoned the game, leaving GoonSwarm's military might locked in a shiny box named after their own defeated foes.
Karttoon, EVE Online
Karttoon, who has double-V fingers engraved into his forehead to face everyone he sees. It saves time.
For more video game insanity, check out 5 Creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying to Get You Addicted and The 5 Most Absurdly Expensive Items in Online Gaming.