PvP – My Take on It

Seems the topic of PvP is flaring up recently, and I’ve been struggling to get my point across.  This post should help set down my theories on it and allow for more depth in the argument.

PvP, to me, has 2 main components.  First is that it requires two consenting parties for it to be acceptable.  Second, is that it’s primarily focused around competition, and is often used for anti-social behavior.


First off, you should know I’m a fiscal conservative and social liberal.  I am ok with 2 people doing what they want, as long as there is consent.  There is a lot of argument around what consent is and what it isn’t, and in particular at what age you can actually understand the implications of consent.  It is not possible to give consent when you are intoxicated, for example.

Real world example in Canada at the moment; Jian Ghomeshi is a fairly popular radio DJ for the CBC, a crown corp new broadcaster.  You might remember him from the Billy Bob interview.  Well, last week he was fired from the CBC, and news is slowly trickling in to as why.  TLDR; he had admitted to being inclined to BDSM for some time.  The other parties are claiming a lack of consent on these relationships.  And in this particular case, there’s the whole position of power issue. I’ll let the courts settle it but this is likely to be a watershed event for Canadian law.

Most people’s understanding of BDSM is from the movies or from 50 Shades of Grey.  Something taboo in the dark corners that someone else does, 100 km away from civilized society.  Hearing that a Canadian icon is into this, and not ashamed of it is pushing it to the limelight.  I don’t mind the activity as long as both parties consent.  The main issue, from my perspective at least, is that people’s understanding of the act, and thereby their consent, is flawed.  There is a massive difference between asking someone if they like “rough sex” and “do you want to be choked to the point of passing out”.  There are shades of BDSM and what someone would find acceptable, you can’t really dial it to 11 with someone you just met unless you were really descriptive as to what it meant.

When you look at PvP, it’s a similar boat.  What does PvP actually mean?  Does it mean even footed battlegrounds, where stats and skills are normalized?  Does it mean territorial control?  Does it mean greifing and exploiting?  Does it mean meta-PvP such as the multiple cases in EVE ISK scams?  When you are clicking the EULA, it certainly doesn’t state any of that.  You actually have to play (or read about other players) to understand the event and when (if) you can actually give consent.

In some PvE games, you need to flag for PvP and willingly embark.  In the more sandbox type games, just logging in is considered consent.  And your consent is usually backed up by an exchange of money to the developer…

Social Impacts

This one has two sub components.  The structured PvP, governed by rules – which is what e-sports are based upon – is the one I think most people are interested in.  At least, it’s the one that dominates the market globally, though less so in NA.  The other part is the anti-social stuff, or wild-west if you will.  Bullying and griefing falls into this bucket, including all sorts of harassment.

I don’t mind the first one as again, it’s predicated on consent and the rules make it clear on the engagement and results.  You know clearly before engagement the limit of the activity and how a winner is declared (if there is one).  PvP battlegrounds and realm warfare fits into this.  LoL, WoT, MOBAs, CoD are all based on this model.  Though competition and failure, people progress.  Either you’re competing against yourself or someone else – you need a target goal.

The anti-social side is where the crap happens.  Trash talk, harassment, bullying, corpse camping, theft, meta-PvP, murder sprees, destruction for no gain are all some examples.  This isn’t exclusive from the structured PvP in any way.  You’ll find graveyard campers and trash talkers a plenty in that model.  But some games are built with only this in mind.  DayZ is a really solid example where the PvP is so rule-less that no one can progress outside of gangs.  If you see someone, you kill them and loot them, plain and simple.  There is no other goal in the game, no point of building progress as the risk of loss far outweighs any potential gains.  EvE has this problem with AWOXers, where personal corporations do not want to invite new players as they pose a greater risk than a benefit.

I get why people want to play games that allow you to do this.  CoD allows indiscriminate headshots right?  No real-world benefit to this.  It’s fantasy fulfillment.  We need it as an outlet.  I’m onboard with the concept and I see why people would want to participate.


I just won’t consent to it and participate.  Lack of player consent is where some developers are trying to find new ways to address bad players.

LoL’s tribunal was set up to mitigate this activity.  Get reported enough, get sent to tribunal, face a potential ban.  It’s not working though, since the ban puts people in the unranked games, which causes even more grief.  XBOX Live has a ranking system where only the worst ranked people play together, a sort of cesspit of society if you will.  I haven’t heard news on it but the principle makes sense.  AA has a penalty box, where you go to a tribunal of sorts then have to sit in-game for a period of time – I think the most I’ve seen was 12 hours.  I think it’s a good thought but the penalties are much too lenient.

I don’t play EvE, Darkfall or AA because I don’t like the anti-social aspect and the lack of structure.  I think they each offer a decent take on the whole sandbox structure mind you.  Still, I won’t consent to that type of PvP and since each of those games doesn’t give you an option of consent, outside of logging on, I see no reason to play.  There are plenty of other options out there.

7 thoughts on “PvP – My Take on It

  1. It’s fantasy fulfillment. We need it as an outlet.

    I agree to a very certain extent 🙂 I don’t think people need this. The problem with experimentation in virtual worlds is that currently, they’re teaching us that theres no consequence. What this leads to is people believing they can do what they want in a game under the banner of “its not real”. I don’t think games are a proper outlet for our screwed up fantasies at all, unless it’s a private fantasy. That’s pretty much all we can ask.

    The moment we involve someone else, it’s not ours alone any more. And we have to respect the fantasies of the other.

    The way games like COD (for example) has gone about FFA pvp is the very reason PvP has an awful reputation and is a nasty, putrid culture of abuse. Players really, REALLY, REALLY don’t give a damn who they hurt. “it’s just a game” is literally their justification. This design isn’t just acting as an outlet. It’s trivializing the experience so much that no one can fathom that they might be abusing someone else.


    • In sorts. If the XBOX Live model is applied, where the lowest of the low play together, consenting to all that debauchery, I don’t mind so much. The no consequences, shared pool mentality – ya, I’m on board with you. That model is flawed.


  2. I thought this was a great post to which I didn’t have much to add, so (for the first time ever!) I just hit the WordPress “like” button. Sadly, the “like” instantly disappears every time I leave the page and trying to “re-like” it repeatedly doesn’t seem to have helped.


  3. As a long time PvPer, of both the discrete, balanced and instanced variety as well the persistent world variant, I find it interesting that the reasons why you dislike OWPvP games are the reasons why I like them. I like the chaos and the anarchy, and the feeling (albeit simulated) of living in a frontier world without laws or structure. I don’t mind the low standard of behaviour, as I already have a dim view of human nature, and all the adolescent posturing I see in these games just confirm what I already know about people interacting in anonymous environments without accountability. You don’t need OWPvP to see people behaving badly on the Internet – the more extreme polemic elements on both sides of the Gamergate debate are proof enough of that.

    I find it somewhat contradictory that you call these type of games anti-social, and then start talking about how common it is for players in these games to form what you call “gangs”. I don’t know why a PvE group banded together to achieve a mutual goal is called a raid group, while a OWPvP group doing the same thing becomes a “gang”, unless it is just your personal biases colouring your language. Grouping together for the purposes of mutual gain, security or shared cultural identity seems to me to be the very essence of sociality, and speaking from personal experience I have found that the tightest bonds I have made in online spaces are in these types of games. Shared enemies and shared danger make for one hell of a bonding experience. Of course we treat the enemy with no quarter, but again this is what I expect from these anarchic and volatile environments, and I would like to think my opponents are aware of this.

    I recall reading your comment on J3w3l’s blog, which says this about OWPvP – “honestly, it’s like seeing my history books in gaming.” That’s exactly why I love these type of games! If human history is the account of humanity’s rise from individualism to tribalism to nationalism to globalism via conflict and cooperation, then these type of games give us the opportunity to simulate them in a virtual environment, and to take part in them. The tale of the CFC’s rise to domination in null sec in EVE is like watching the pacification of the Wild West. From a frontier space filled with hundreds of self-serving, ruthless and selfish “gangs” the CFC has managed to create the biggest player association in MMO history, with over thousands of members, a feat no other player association in any other MMO has succeeded in or come close to doing. According to a long time writer on EVE politics (James315) the very reason why the CFC succeeded in bringing peace to null sec is because they treat their coalition members with respect, they honour their agreements and contracts, they are diplomatically astute and have a well-developed logistics and intelligence network, and when push comes to shove they can muster massive fleets in war. These are not attributes one immediately associates with “gangs”, although I do have to admit that there are plenty of player associations which fit that description in OWPvP MMOs. But it is equally possible for OWPvP worlds to have groups which conduct themselves with honour, integrity and trustworthiness. I would even contend that groups that succeed in dominating the meta-game in OWPvP games are groups which have the virtues of being able to work together internally and in partnership with other associations, and are competent and skilled in their chosen fields. I accept and respect the fact that they are not for everyone, and if anything, the fact that the reasons why I like them are the reasons why you hate them leads me to believe that these two viewpoints are probably irreconcilable.


  4. Pingback: PvP – My Take on It – Redux | Leo's Life

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