Tarus and Daowace and Trolls, Oh My!

While I may be a troll in real life, the urge to say ridiculous and offensive things never quite translated to Internet message boards. Generally, I’ve only set up accounts on professional sites to comment, so trolling would be counterproductive.

In fact, the only online tomfoolery I can remember participating in was when I played Final Fantasy XI, a grind-heavy MMORPG. I delighted in setting up macros of emotes to create dances while begging other players for money and create elaborate backstories for my characters. I’d harass random people and try to derail their plans.

You see, I wasn’t interested in being a Ninja, Paladin or Black Mage, the role I was playing was Asshole.

One of my fondest memories was creating an extra character with the tiny Tarutaru race. I probably shouldn’t spell out his name here, but by changing the spelling of the offensive word, I got it past the automatic filter.

Let’s just call him K***puncher.

His short stature made a celebratory emote a pretty good height for “punching” other players in their K***s, and I had a set a goal for 10 hours of play time with this “mule” character before getting reported and shut down. After a night at the bars with some friends, I asked if they wanted to watch some K***punching. With a small, inebriated audience in my studio apartment, I made the rounds punching, cheering and getting the usual laughs from behind me and through the screen. With more than 9.5 hours of punching below the belt under mine, I was oh so close.

Alas, I flew too close to the sun, punching a wet blanket named Daowace, who didn’t /clap or /laugh.

Wow. Been reported lately?

Within a few seconds, my screen faded black as a disembodied “voice” scolded me for violating the terms of service. I trotted out my fake backstory even though this GM could probably look up my real information anyway. After successfully begging for the virtual lives of my other characters, I asked the GM if I could see what he looked like. A character unlike any other I’d seen appeared, with glowing red armor flicking embers around the small prison room.

These days, I’m a GM of sorts for the Tri-City Herald’s Facebook page. I don’t have armor, but there are just as many monsters. Regulars spew the same talking points repeatedly and engage in pointless arguments that always seem to dominate any reasonable discussion. The urge to jump in can be strong sometimes, but that’s obviously a bad idea. I’ve also had to exercise restraint in dealing with direct messages and complaints. Thankfully, the Facebook trolls aren’t magical, or this restraint might not be possible.

Will this real-world experience from the moderator’s end translate to the virtual one? It’s hard to say. I swore off MMO’s long ago until I’m either retired or injured to the point that I can’t work. Here’s hoping I won’t have to find out anytime soon.

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Kai-Huei Yau

Kai-Huei Yau

Kai-Huei Yau was a photojournalist at the Tri-City Herald for six years and recently moved west to be a communications specialist at Vertafore in Bothell. He's thrilled to live next to a great fried chicken joint, a good spot for pho and to put his journalism skills to work in a new way.

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  • Chevis

    Those conspiracy theory ppl r the worst

  • ..me?

    This article had to have been originally written around 2004. I haven’t played FFXI since around that time.