Grief – To destroy or alter another player’s build without their knowledge or against their wishes.

A couple of weeks ago we had a bit of a griefing incident in my class.  Two of my students were wandering around our school area/zone, in the MinecraftEdu Multi-School server, when they happened upon a house.  This house had signs on it that warning my students specifically from entering in:

The signs read: ‘Zack’s house’ and ‘Don’t come in GLA (Girls’ Leadership Academy)’

The two students who found the house were offended by the warning.  They did not think it was fair to build in someone else’s zone, and then forbid people, who belonged to that school zone, access.  So they decided to go in and take a look around.  The end result being, that the upper floor, which was made of yellow wool, burned down.  This is where I come in.  The story they told me was that they had found some lava encased in stone-like a basin, and one of them ‘accidentally’ broke a block causing it to spill and set the house on fire.  I thought this was kind of weak, but I had not actually seen the inside of the house so there was no way for me to know for sure. (Unless I contacted someone to go through the log). Even so, we had a -lengthy- discussion about the norms we had created as a group, and which one they had broken.  They said they would fix the damage, but they did not seem too broken up by what happened since the house was in their territory and Zack wouldn’t really hurt by what happened since he would never know.  Zach’s house is technically an abandoned build.  Zack no longer plays on the Multi-School server, since he graduated from Highland Heights last June.

I gave the students a consequence of writing a letter to me where they had to explain: What happened, what did you do, and how would you feel if it happened to you?   My frustration was that I don’t think that the girls felt any real remorse over what they did given the territory issue, and the build having been abandoned.  My struggle is, that in this case, I am not sure how much I can or should push the issue. Is there such a thing as a victimless griefing?  What did they learn from this experience?

To make matters even more messy, here is what happened today: I logged into the original server that the house was built in to grab a screenshot of it for this blog post.  The MinecraftEdu server is a copy of our regular Multi-School server, so it has the ‘real’ undamaged house.  Upon finding Zack’s house I discovered that the girls had lied to me.  There is no well/basin of lava in the house.  Coincidentally, at the time of the incident the girls did have access to lava… access they do not normally have.  I had the lava turned on in the game because some of my other students had asked me to make them a lava river for the bridges they were building for science, as an independent project.  Needless to say I am disappointed, and need to consider my next steps carefully.

I do plan on revisiting this issue with them this week.  If you have any suggestions for what I should do when addressing this with my students please leave a comment.  I am happy get feedback and/or start a discussion.