World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Player versus player

Player(s) versus player(s), or PvP, is a type of multiplayer interactive conflict within a game between two or more live participants.[1] This is in contrast to games where players compete against computer-controlled opponents and/or players, which is referred to as player versus environment (PvE). The terms are most often used in games where both activities exist,[2] particularly MMORPGs, MUDs, and other role-playing video games. PvP is sometimes called player killing or PKing..

PvP can be broadly used to describe any game, or aspect of a game, where players compete against each other.

PvP is often controversial when used in role-playing games. In most cases, there are vast differences in abilities between experienced and novice players. PvP, when poorly designed, can encourage experienced players to immediately attack and kill inexperienced players before they have even had an opportunity to play.[3]


  • History 1
  • Classifications 2
    • Player killing 2.1
      • Anti Player Killing 2.1.1
    • Dueling 2.2
    • Flagging 2.3
  • RvR (realm versus realm) combat 3
  • PvP in tabletop roleplaying games 4
  • Ethical issues 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7


PvP combat in CRPGs has its roots in various MUDs like Gemstone II and Avalon: The Legend Lives.. However, while the ability to kill another player existed in many MUDs, it was usually frowned upon because of general strict adherences and heavy influences from role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. The term PvP originated in text based MUDs played on bulletin board systems like MajorMUD and Usurper. These games had open worlds where any player could attack any other player as long as they were not at a safe spot in town like the Bank. Player versus player was coined sometime in the late 1980s to refer to the combat between players that resulted in the loser being penalized in some way.

The first graphical MMORPG was

  1. ^  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ a b Sicart, Michael (2011). The Ethics of Computer Games. MIT Press. pp. 179–184.  
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Towers, J. Tarin; Badertscher, Ken; Cunningham, Wayne; Buskirk, Laura (1996). Yahoo! Wild Web Rides. IDG Books Worldwide Inc. p. 149.  
  6. ^ Shah, Rawn; Romine, James (1995). Playing MUDs on the Internet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 98–99.  
  7. ^  
  8. ^  
  9. ^  


See also

Player-vs-player dynamics involve ethical issues with players. Because of ganking, some game developers view PvP with contempt. Despite the advantage experienced players have over new players, many game developers have assumed an honor code would prevent PKing.[3]

Ethical issues

This approach to PvP in tabletop games in not universal. For example, in the highly satirical Paranoia, lethal PvP conflict is a core game element, considered normal and heavily encouraged by the rules and support materials.

Tabletop roleplaying games have also often featured PvP action. These are usually considered a reasonable part of play so long as the fight is based on "in-character" reasons. Games are often written so player characters will not be unbalanced, ensuring that the players are genuinely scared of the other players, even when they would normally kill most non-player characters easily.

PvP in tabletop roleplaying games

This was a new concept to graphical MMORPGs, but was first introduced in the game that preceded DAoC, Darkness Falls: The Crusade, which has since been shut down in favor of building on DAoC. Other MMORPG games now also feature this type of gameplay.[9]

In 2001, Mythic Entertainment introduced a new team-based form of PvP combat with the release of Dark Age of Camelot.[8] In RvR, players of each realm team up to fight against players from the opposing realms in team-based combat. This can include normal skirmishes between rival groups that is common in other PvP systems, but also consists of objective-based battles such as taking and holding keeps or capturing enemy relics.

RvR (realm versus realm) combat

Sometimes the PvP flag gets automatically 'ON' on any player who initiates a PK. Other players who attacks a player who has the PvP flag on will NOT get their PvP flag 'ON'.

Through various means, "flags" can be turned on or off, allowing PvP combat with other people who have also turned on their flag. In Everquest, there is no way to turn the flag off once it has been turned on. In Star Wars Galaxies, the flag may be turned off by interacting with faction specific NPCs located throughout the game or by typing an ingame command (/pvp). In World of Warcraft, flagging is selectable or can be activated by attacking certain flagged players until a cool-off period ends, though this can be exploited by griefers via corpse camping. Some games have a bounty system where players that kill or heal other players open themselves up to being killed in return. This is sometimes called the "revenge flag". Use of this 'bounty' system is not standardized among MMORPGs, and there are debates raging about how to 'police' the system to avoid abuse.


Dueling is both consensual and competitive. Dueling ladders and leagues set up by fans are common for most MMORPGs that have PvP. Dark Age of Camelot was the first graphical MMORPG to debut a formal dueling system ingame (Ballista); other MMORPGs such as City of Heroes, Anarchy Online, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Lineage 2, Wurm Online, and RuneScape feature PvP as competitive, consensual dueling in a group setting.


Anti-PKing, also known as Player Killer Killing, PK Killing, or PKK,[7] is a form of in-game player justice. Often motivated by an overpopulation of in-game player killers, vigilante Anti-PKs hunt Player Killers and Player Griefers with vengeance.

Anti Player Killing

Some MMORPGs set a certain level requirement to engage in PvP combat in order for new players to enjoy, experience and explore the game before actually getting PK'ed by other players. Other MMORPGs, such as Anarchy Online and Everquest Original on the 'Zek' servers, only allow a player to PvP with another if they are within a certain level range of each other, to prevent "ganking" (see above).

In some MMORPGs PvP comes with extra penalties such as the player killer will not be able to form/join a group (party), receive help from other players and may have an increased loss of experience on death. Usually a player's name who has initiated a PvP recently will be in a bright color. In Lineage II a player would turn purple if they initiated combat and anyone who killed someone who was not purple (had fought back) would turn red. Turning red had a much higher chance of one's gear dropping off for others to loot when they die. Arguably the most severe penalty came on Asheron's Call where a killed player incurred a 5% loss in all stats and abilities per death, stacking up to 40%. This, combined with probably being naked from item loss, was very difficult to come back from.

A rarer form of player killing involves inciting a monster or monsters to attack another player. The reason this is rare is because the monster is more likely to attack the one who is trying to do the killing. Often a player will have to lure the monster towards the other player and run away, so that the monster (if it is aggressive) will look for a new target, which may be the other player. This behavior is often found in otherwise purely 'PVE' games such as Realm of the Mad God.

Character death in an online game usually comes with a penalty (though some games remove it from PvP combat), so habitual PKers can find themselves ostracized by the local community. In some games a character will die many times and the player must often sacrifice some experience points (XP) or in-game currency to restore that character to life. Permanent death (such that the player must create a new character) is relatively uncommon in online games, especially if PKing is permitted. An example of such a mode is Hardcore mode on the game Diablo II.

PvP can also create additional facets in the community. In Ultima Online and Asheron's Call, a rift formed between those who enjoyed PKing, those who enjoyed hunting the PKs and those who simply did not want to fight at all. The Renaissance expansion later added a Trammel facet where PvP was not allowed, giving some out to the UO crowd that did not wish to engage in PvP at all. Asheron's Call contained a server that was completely unrestricted in player interactions where massive "PK" and "Anti (PK)" dynasties formed.

Player killing, or PKing, is non-consensual PvP resulting in a character's death. Some games offer open PvP (also sometimes called world PvP), where one player can attack another without warning anywhere in the game world. A pure PK game is one where PvP conflict is the only gameplay offered. Ganking (short for gang killing) is a type of PKing in which the killer has a significant advantage over his victim, such as being part of a group, being a higher level, or attacking the victim while they are at low health.

Player killing


PvP has been included in other games such as Asheron's Call in late 1999, Diablo II in 2000, Dark Age of Camelot and RuneScape in 2001, Asheron's Call 2 in 2002, Shadowbane in 2003, and Dragon Nest in 2011. While these games included PvP, they still contained large portions of prerequisite PvE, mostly to build characters.

In addition to this, not all PvP games feature a players' avatar experiencing death. An example of this type of PvP element can be found on MMOs such as Audition Online (2004) where while players are not directly killing each other's avatars as traditionally found in MMOs, they are still competing against each other during certain game modes in a Player versus Player setting.

Other early MMORPGs, including Meridian 59 (1996), Ultima Online (1997), and Tibia (1997) also had PvP combat as a feature. In Ultima Online, the goal was to allow players to police themselves in a "frontier justice" way. This system also exists in Tibia, where death includes significant penalty, and killing someone inflicts considerable harm to their character. In Meridian 59, the game tried to focus PvP by having different political factions for players to join. The later Eve Online (2003) refined Ultima Online's (original) approach of "PvP anywhere but in town" (where attacking another player is dangerous in and around towns due to interference from NPC "guards"). However, these games tended to be unfriendly to more casual players. With the popularity of EverQuest in 1999, primarily consisting of PvE elements (with the exception of limited PvP on one specific server), PvP became a negative for some newer/casual MMORPG players and developers looking to draw a larger crowd. In 2000, in response to complaints about malicious player-killers, Ultima Online controversially added an extra copy of the game world to each server in which non-consensual PvP was disabled.

[6] Extremely popular, its ideas influenced the MUD world heavily.[5] in favor of placing characters on an even footing, with only player skill providing an advantage.MUDs character development normally found in RPG-style removing all non-PvP gameplay and discarding the [4] founded in 1992, was a pioneer in PvP conflict as the first "pure PK" MUD,LPMud, an Genocide

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.