Tom Endo over at The Escapist has written an interesting editorial in which he suggests the idea that we all need a villain as a vessel for people's frustration with authority such as Bonnie and Clyde or Robin Hood. In the case of MMOs, that anti-hero is the Griefer, who will push the game mechanics to and past their breaking point or intended use in order get ahead.
Second Life has had more than its fair share of griefers over the years, and it's true that in games such as Eve Online, the actions of the players have had a massive impact on the game. Some might say that with some games they have had more than the developer itself. Such is the case with the various self-styled bad-boy corporations and alliances throughout the years in that game, or the actions leading up to the Felluca/Trammel split in Ultima Online. But Endo puts forward the idea that players need these griefers and the stories that they create, despite the true nature of their actual actions.
Head on over to The Escapist to read the full article and see if you agree with his ideas.