So, I have returned to EVE when there are two pieces of drama going on. The first of these is a change on how refining and reprocessing works that is due to occur in the summer expansion. I will probably write about that in due course, but in the main it is one of those semi-regular events in EVE when a forthcoming game mechanic change causes a bunch of folk to proclaim the imminent death of the game. Actually, the second kerfuffle also involves people proclaiming the end of the game. Such is EVE.
So, Ripard Teg made a post called “The Bonus Round” about a particular incident of scamming/harassment. Or rather, a particular incident that began as scam, and evolved into a very lengthy exercise in humiliation, which was then made public. I have not listened to the recording, but from all accounts things got fairly brutal. In due course a threadnaught occurred, there were quite a few subsequent blog posts, and generally lots of people talking, debating, arguing, and shouting to and at each other.
Ripard drew attention to, what even he admitted was an outlier of EVE behaviour, because he was concerned that the more public behaviour like this becomes the more likely it is to do damage to EVE Online, a game he cares for very deeply. Almost immediately, a load of people started clamouring in the other direction because they see pretty much any restriction on player behaviour as being inimical to the ethos of EVE.
Personally, I am on Ripard’s side in this particular issue, for a particular reason: seen it all before.
EVE thrives on its darker side. One of the great things about EVE is that it allows you to play the villain – in game. Those two last words are vital, and this is where I personally think that Erotica1 (the villain of this piece) went wrong. By taking things out of game (perhaps to try and avoid ToS or EULA issues) Erotica1 ceased to be a villain in a computer game, and became a villain in real life. There is precedent for this – The Mittani made the same mistake once as well on the stage of Fanfest.
There is also in EVE a continual tension between its darker side, one that is inherent to its sandbox nature. Being the sandbox that it is allows people to play the villain – it also allows people not to play the villain. It allows people to follow career paths that primary engage and ship pvp, and it allows people to follow career paths that primarily involve shooting nps and/or mining rocks/ice (plus lots of other possible variations). CCP as a company constantly tweaks the sandbox to try and keep that sandbox as a place where all sides can prosper. Put it another way, CCP tries to create an environment where the wolves have plenty of sheep to prey upon.
The wolves though have a tendency to go overboard now and then, and when they do there is sometimes a reaction. In reaction to the original Jihadswarms there were a number of changes which made suicide ganking a more costly affair. In reaction to some of the later Hulkageddons CCP actually made miners have the ability to fit decent tanks. The last change I particularly liked actually – previously one’s options to tank were rather limited, especially in anything but a Hulk. Now you have a genuine choice to go with tank or yield. To be sure, enough gankers can always bring a target down, but now the miner is not as powerless as they were.
In essence, this is where we are again. So long as Erotica1’s actions happened generally in a small circuit, CCP were happen to ignore them (if they even knew of them). Ripard however broke things open – but Ripard cannot be blamed for this. After all, no one forced Erotica1 to leave public evidence of his activities for all and sundry to see. Once things expanded outside the relatively small circle of hi-sec wolves that Erotica1 belonged to CCP was forced to take notice, and one thing CCP is very aware of is the weight of public opinion. So a restatement of the harassment rules, the apparent banning of Erotica1, and the clear determination that taking things to a TS server in an attempt to get around the EULA will not work.
Is this the end of scamming in EVE? Of course not. I personally think that the long-term effect of this is going to take quite some time to discern, but it is another iteration where out of game behaviour has an in-game impact, and that there is a line of bad behaviour that will have consequences. Better to keep things in-game, where the rules are clearer (almost anything goes). I am fairly sure events such as described in Ripard’s post will still continue to some extent, under the cover as it were. After all, from a certain point of Erotica1’s real offence was not what he did, it was getting caught and forcing CCP to take a stand.