How To Successfully Troll People in Online Games

I'm not talking spammin' or hecklin' or plain old rage capsin'. Anybody can curse, big whoop. I'm talking the best cure for raid wiping boredom: how to dupe fellow players into stark raving madness.

What is trolling exactly?

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You can’t be a successful troll until you have first mastered its definition! The Urban Dictionary, guru-tastic definitve expert on all words Internet, gives this as option one:

Being a prick on the internet because you can.

Ah, grasshoppper, you have much to learn. I’m going to let the video at the top handle definition one. Why?

  1. Because it’s totes lol.
  2. Because these posts look better with some eye candy at the top.
  3. Because it does a decent job of handling padawan-esque trolling. 

Let’s leave definition one and move on to definition two, the only kind of trolling that can truly qualify as an art form.

The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue. Trolling does not mean just making rude remarks: Shouting swear words at someone doesn’t count as trolling; it’s just flaming, and isn’t funny. Spam isn’t trolling either; it pisses people off, but it’s lame.

The most essential part of trolling is convincing your victim that either a) truly believe in what you are saying, no matter how outrageous, or b) give your victim malicious instructions, under the guise of help.

Forget option (b). Malicious instructions catch noobs (and even newbs) far too easily. Might as well shoot fish in a barrel. Far more challenging, and therefore far more gratifying when successful, is option (a): deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off. Let’s look at a couple of epic trolling examples.

Example One: Getting a Rise out of Trade Chat

There are three top contenders for “best troll ever” at getting people in trade chat overly worked up for no good reason.

  1. Bold statements about random religious figures.
  2. Incorrect statements about beloved sci-fi or fantasy worlds.
  3. Epic theoretical battles.

All are good choices, but if you ask me, religious figures are a bit too easy. And a bit too likely to result in actual violence in this day and age. I try to stay away from these, but they are definitely fair game if you’re so inclined.

Incorrect statements about beloved sci-fi or fantasy worlds are much more fun, mostly because it’s amazing to me how worked up people will get about an entirely invented universe. Try any of the following troll examples in your own favorite trade chat:

  • Luke Skywalker totally did it with Leah before he figured out she was his sister.”
  • “In real life, Wayne Enterprises never would have gotten off the ground.”
  • “No way a radioactive spider gives you super powers. Comics are stupid.”
  • “A different colored sun makes you able to fly? Where’s the science in that???”
  • Wolverine wasn’t a real superhero. They just operated on his hands.”

The best thing about epic theoretical battles is that they can mix and match any of the other two categories as well. Feel free to be creative.

I’d add in the religious figures, but I’m trying to write about trolling. I’m not trying to be one. Plus, I don’t like hate mail. I prefer to generate my trolling response flames in online games like World of Warcraft, where the people I’m trolling can’t find my email address.

Example Two: Pissing Off Your Raid Leader

As a raid leader myself, I’m somewhat loathe to include this one, but I have to admit it has a proven track record of success. For greatest effect, wait until the raid is really going down the toilet. I’m talking wiping before the 30 second mark epic fail. Then start acting like you have no idea what’s going wrong. Fair warning though, if used too effectively, it could earn you a guild kick. You might want to save it for pug raids you were about to bail on anyway. Here are a few classics:

  • “Which traps are we supposed to stay out of again? The red ones or the blue ones?” (Especially effective when both traps are bad.)
  • “Why was everybody frozen at the end? Is that a boss mechanic?” (This works whether freezing really is a boss mechanic or you’re just pretending to have horribad latency issues.)
  • “Which wall am I supposed to run to when I have the debuff? Cause this room is a circle, by the way.” (Especially effective when the raid leader has placed a flag to run to and explained this fact at least 7 times.)
  • “Why isn’t his health moving?” (Works especially well when you aren’t supposed to be hitting the boss at all during the first phase of the fight.)

I’ll let that wrap up my introductory seminar on epic trolling. I hope you found the above suggestions informative without becoming a victim yourself. Please don’t email me with your perspicacious missive regarding the Wolverine versus Batman hypothetical. I swear to you, it was just an example.


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Ask Erin
app developer, author, rancher, gamer, (and occasional lawyer)