Tens of millions of adults spend all their free time in fictional worlds that are full of more tedious work and assholes than most real-life jobs. Combining Internet anonymity with people who have absurd amounts of free time, massive multiplayer online role-playing Gamers (MMORPG)are a better guarantee of asshole-ry than a digestive system, and yield uglier results. But there are some spectacular douche bags who have put more work into screwing with strangers than should be humanly possible.
EVE Online's universe consists of 350,000 active subscribers piloting customizable space craft around 7,500 solar systems. Putting that many people in space with lasers might sound like an open horizon to awesome, but the players who hang out there created a fully functional free market economy that ends up feeling more like space accountancy. The ad may look like this ...
... but it doesn't tell you that you have to pay for those lasers. To do that, a lot of game play involves your screen looking more like this ...
As with the real-world economy, making a profit in the world of EVE Online is easier if you form corporations. While many spend years working together for mutual gain, others behave a lot like corporations do in the real world. Or at least how they would if they operated in a universe where murder is legal.
For instance, the Guiding Hand Social Club assassinates people for profit and steals their stuff for bonuses. In one instance, they were hired to destroy "Mirial," the CEO of Ubiqua Seraph corporation. While many EVE Online players literally grind rocks for hours to make a profit, the GHSC use the assignment to show everyone what Ocean's Eleven would have been like if it took place in the Star Wars universe. No one has had so much more fun than everyone else playing a game since Michael Jackson suggested Junior Twister.
First, they got jobs with the target corporation and worked their way up the ranks. The primary assassin became second in command of the entire firm because the background checks for imaginary space pilots aren't very good.
Then, after a year of real-time play, they struck harder than Keyser Soze in that one flashback scene where he's played by Fabio. They killed Mirial, emptied the corp's accounts and hangars, stole everything that wasn't bolted down and blew up everything that was, then killed Mirial again because EVE is specifically programmed to let you kill people twice. The first time gives you all the XP and valuable wreckage, but allows the murdered player to escape in a pod. The second does nothing but shout, "Screw You!" with murder (which is admittedly the best way to do that).
Mirial was in a Navy Apocalypse at the time, which is basically EVE Online's equivalent of the Death Star.
And really, anyone who manages to get killed in one of those deserves it at least twice.
They scooped up the virtually vacuum-frozen corpse for delivery to a client who had paid the equivalent of 500 real dollars for the hit. Which pales next to the $16,500 (again, real-world money) worth of items destroyed or stolen in the raid. Also, holy shit, people are paying to assassinate hated video game characters now.
Everyone who doesn't use Akuma is already saving up.
In 2005, Blizzard added a new boss with a hit-point draining spell that effected anyone standing directly next to him. Since stepping to the boss meant you were probably about to die anyway, they saw no harm in making the spell contagious. The only explanation is that Blizzard had never been on the Internet, and therefore had no clue that basic humanity transforms from "Don't share this poop-filled video with anyone because it's horrible" to "THIS IS ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIC I MUST SHARE IT WITH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE!" Players soon worked out how to teleport the plague out of the dungeon and into the real (fake) world. An MMORPG pandemic was born.
One that resulted in more unconvincing skeletons than Jason and the Argonauts.
The hit-points it took away were enough to instantly-kill low level players, so high-level players immediately started teleporting around the map as much as possible. Because if there's one thing World of Warcraft players hate more than people who don't play, it's people who do play but not as much as them. The Breakfast Hen has more respect for its young than online gaming culture, and it's an imaginary bird which lays eggs directly onto a frying pan.
The plague killed new players, old players; it even infected non-player characters who couldn't get sick but acted as carriers -- so talking to an innkeeper about killing 10 wolves could infect and kill you. But after your 20th "Lo, noble warrior, kill exactly 10 pests for me like an OCD Orkin man," that was probably a relief.
"Nah, I think I'll just lay down and accept my fate, thanks.
It was also revealing: In a game where people can be heroic knights or masterful mages, many leaped at the chance to become Terrorist Tyhpoid Mary. A small Taliban like force of plague-carriers actively fought Blizzard while hiding in the mountains, breaking quarantines and even incubating the plague through server-purges by infecting their own virtual pets then re-infecting themselves. They forced Blizzard into hard server resets, nuking and reinstalling their entire world. It was douchebaggery on measurable scientific and national security scales: Real-life scientists and bioterrorism experts now study it as a case example. Presumably before drinking themselves into unconsciousness when they realize they're protecting a species that commits bio-terror in order to destroy worlds they hang out in for fun.
Long live Bonersling420.
You're playing a game where you kill things. What do you do with a giant dragon that kills things, can only be woken by killing four smaller dragons first and is now trying to kill you? If you said "kill it" you just surprised the hell out of Sony who, to be fair, have never claimed they weren't wearing human-skin suits while studying these Earth things called "game-ers." Kerafyrm the Sleeper was EverQuest's dragon-equivalent of Sauron, if Sauron drove the Death Star to work. It had a hundred times as many hit points as any other boss, was immune to most damage, had two spammable instant-kill attacks because screw you and didn't work right because it was online and programmed by Sony.
Waking it created Kerafym the Awakened, also known as "Kerafym the Ran Away From" and "Kerafym the Cripes That's Big."
It forced the three top guilds to co-operate, which makes herding cats look easier than getting Bollywood extras to move in step. It was Sesame Street by way of Lord of the Rings, specifically the end of the third movie, since for over three hours, 180 players turned themselves into a Sisyphean Zerg horde. Resurrecting each other faster than the monster could kill them, they put in Herculean feats of teamwork that cruelly mocked the concept of "fun." They fought like warrior poets, they fought like Scotsmen and eventually ground the boss down to 22 percent health -- at which point Sony turned the whole thing off and acted like it was the players' fault. So if you're wondering how they can keep the PlayStation Network off for a week and act like that's fine, it's because they've been practicing.
They took their ball and went home, where their ball was a giant harbinger of doom and the focus of the entire game.
Showing less regard for their users than an Iron Maiden, they released a rubbish (and later disproven) excuse about how Kerafyrm's programming had been distracted by an NPC -- and you'll notice how even their own excuse is based on their incompetence -- before simply apologizing and resetting the entire event, telling players to try again. It was like Lucy tricking Charlie Brown if Lucy was making millions of dollars making Charlie Brown miss, and if it took three man-weeks to run up to the football.
A Horde guild proved a lot of the good things people say about online relationships by holding a respectful in-game funeral for a friend who had died in real life, and an Alliance guild, Serenity Now, proved everything else they say by massacring everyone present. As dick moves go, it's effective and tactical: Everyone's clustered together, no one's expecting to fight and you've got one less target than normal.
Any virtual conga line is pretty sad, but this was the saddest.
Proving that the only reason the Internet still exists is because it's not possible to kill other people through computer screens, most people familiar with WoW culture sort of shrugged, and said, "Yeah, they sort of had it coming." The targets were holding their funeral on a PvP (Player-versus-Player) server. The victims could have mourned their friend somewhere besides the middle of the battle field, but instead, they mourned a real tragedy to demand special treatment. This was the closest the Internet gets to real war after all, and you don't see soldiers mourning their dead in the middle of the battle field.
"Time out, Jimmy's hurt!"
Actually, it turns out real-world soldiers even show more respect for the dead than WoW players. Yes, it was stupid of them to give out their location and advise people they wouldn't be ready to fight without first getting confirmation that everyone was on board with the ceasefire. Yes, they should have known that relying on mutual respect online is like relying on body armor made of beefsteak in a lion enclosure. But if the German and British soldiers managed to hold off on avenging real deaths for an entire week during WWI, we have a tough time siding with the guys who couldn't hold off for an hour in a fake online world.
But these guilds really did not get along, you guys.