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Trolling and Online Gaming

trollingA troll is a mythological creature that hides under bridges, waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce.[1] Internet users have used the term to describe an online phenomenon that many people witness without knowing it.1

In 1999, it was first reported by Dr. Judith Donath who said that “trolling is a game about identity deception, ” suggesting that a troll’s personal opinion is avoided during the act.1 Dr. Susan Herring states that trolling is “luring others into pointless and time-consuming discussions.”1 Furthermore, Lochlan Morrissey stated that “trolling is an utterer producing an intentionally false or incorrect utterance with high order intention to elicit from a recipient a particular response, generally negative or violent.”1 Overall, trolling is found to be an act of intentional provoking of users in an online environment to create a desirable outcome for the troll.1 Some consider trolling an art, it is so complex, and a form of cyberbullying, it is so devised.1

While there has been little research into online trolling to date, some key findings have emerged.1 Susan Herring and colleagues identified three types of messages sent by trolls: messages that appear outwardly sincere; messages designed to attract predictable responses; and messages that waste time by provoking futile arguments.1 Trolls act out of boredom, for attention-seeking, and revenge.1 Anonymity assists in bullying and harassment, as the internet is able to protect their true identity.1

Anonymity can also affect a person’s self-esteem, increasing self-worth as they are allowed to portray a different self.1 However, while general internet use increases self-esteem, video gaming generally decreases it.1 Therefore, as online gaming has increased over the years, the effects of this on self-esteem are generally unknown.1

Trolling had never been studied in an online video game context until recently.1 Dr. Angela Adrian offered insight into how an individual may troll during online gaming.1 They may try to ruin a gaming experience by team-killing or obstructing objects, as well as exhibiting many other online behaviors.1 They may change online gaming forums to be false, as well, to set others up for failure in the game.1

Mark Griffiths and Scott Thacker carried out a study, published in the 2012 issue of International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning, to examine the frequency of trolling, the reasons for doing so, and the effects trolling has on self-esteem.1 They used an online survey of 125 gamers.1 Results showed that trolls played longer gaming sessions and were often younger males.1 Types of trolling included griefing, sexism, racism, faking, and intentional fallacy.1 Reasons included amusement, boredom, and revenge.1 Witnessing it was associated with increased self-esteem, while experiencing it was associated with decreased self-esteem.1

Although the study had several limitations, it provided some key findings into video game trolling that was not previously researched.1

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