What exactly is a griefer, and how are they ruining GTA Online?

Griefers can be detrimental to the addition of newer players to a title (Image via Rockstar Games)
Griefers can be detrimental to the addition of newer players to a title (Image via Rockstar Games)

Quite often, while looking up stuff to read or watch about GTA Online, fans will come across the term "griefer." The context usually refers to a player who essentially ruins the game experience for everyone else in the lobby.

While a griefer isn't unique to GTA Online, they form one of the biggest reasons why new players are often reluctant to pick up the game. Even if they do, they don't tend to stick around for long as griefers often make the game unplayable or too toxic to enjoy.

So what exactly is a griefer? Colloquially, the term "griefer" is used to describe a player whose sole purpose is to ruin the game for everyone else by spamming kills and using incessantly annoying ways to disrupt everyone's game.

In GTA Online, it usually means being repeatedly attacked by a gamer to the point where someone is forced to quit the game or join a new session.

A griefer and their negative influences in GTA Online


The term "griefing" essentially refers to the colloquial phrase of giving "grief" to someone. It dates as far back as the 90s with regards to MMOs and then later Counter-Strike. In fact, one of the most popular episodes of South Park, "Make Love, Not Warcraft," sees the children go up against a griefer in World of Warcraft.

In GTA Online, griefing saw a massive increase with the emergence of certain weaponized vehicles and bugs and exploits in Passive Mode. Rockstar Games responded with some fixes to the Passive Mode and took away the Insurance penalty incurred when destroying an enemy's Personal Vehicle.

The latter was extremely controversial as players, in self-defense, would eliminate a griefer by destroying their vehicle (usually an Oppressor MKII) but incur a $10,000 fine. While the penalty has been removed, griefing continues to be a considerable problem for GTA Online.

However, there is a fine line between griefers and friendly competition between players. While some activities such as spawn-camping and spamming an attack on other players is considered griefing, simply destroying someone in an agreed-upon deathmatch is not.

Griefing often constitutes disrupting another player's activities needlessly and destroying parked vehicles.

Why is this a problem for the game?


One of the biggest draws to any online multiplayer game usually is the fact that it seems like a fun enough experience. A title that offers players a chance to grow and enjoy their time is exponentially more popular and appealing than one populated by a toxic community.

Due to the presence of griefers in GTA Online, gamers have often switched to other ways of experiencing the game, such as playing in Solo lobbies. This is a shame since free mode by itself is a great concept and a fun way to experience the game.

In some cases, players have quit GTA Online altogether and started playing alternatives like Grand Theft Auto RP on FiveM servers and the sort. A toxic environment that robs users of the joy of interacting and competing with other players on an even playing field is currently killing GTA Online.

While the game has been financially successful, griefing has essentially incentivized the purchase of Shark Cards. It won't be long before players grow tired of the incessantly toxic community. There are, after all, way too many games in the AAA space.

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Edited by Ravi Iyer
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