[EVE] How not to do in game/ out-of-game boundaries

I’m not sure if the EVE community has been working up to this over several years, but it’s like being at the drama bus stop at the moment, with several ‘stories’  all arriving at the same time.

First up was The Mittani (recently elected head of the player council of stellar management) dicking around during a live presentation and telling his corps mates to go grief some guy who claimed to have been suicidal, using the phrase “If you want to make this guy go and kill himself …” and giving out the player’s in-game character name.

He subsequently got a 30 day ban, lost his position on the council, et al.

Then apparently someone gave out The Mittani’s real life address on EVE radio and someone in chat there threatened to go round and rape his wife. (Garnered from threads on the EVE forums, which have now mostly been deleted.)

(You’re probably thinking at this point … are these people for real? Or maybe … is this a police matter yet?)

Being as metagaming is a huge part of EVE, chances are that none of this was intended by the speakers to be a serious threat (I’m not aiming to minimise rape threats, just too gobsmacked that it even happened to really comment), but there’s a certain batshit craziness to the entire story which does not reflect well on the game or the people who play it. And if I didn’t happen to know EVE players who are sane, well balanced PVPers, I’d be wondering what kind of an internet cesspit it had become.

Also, how is it that these players, who are presumably old enough to know better, have not twigged that some of the people listening to their rants or threats might in fact be dumb, obsessive, or deranged enough to either take them seriously or take them as a sign that this type of OOC threat is now within the parameters of the game so they should go do it some more too?

Oh and apparently Stabs says EVE players regularly refer to  mega industrialists as  ‘jews’ without any sense that this might not be appropriate slang. (PS. I don’t care if this is standard in your state of birth, and you should not need to be told this.)

Anyhow, this was a post I copied from one of the EVE threads on the subject before it got banned. Elsebeth is the name of the character (ie. not the player). I think it’s worth everyone reading carefully, because it is about the danger of making the boundaries between IC and OOC so thin.

Elsebeth Rhiannon wrote:

Disclaimer: I absolutely do not approve of threatening anyone in RL, not even “as a joke”, and hope anyone who does anything like that gets permabanned immediately, I do not even approve of pointing and laughing at people in the game in order to make them bad in RL, and I do not approve of the recent Mittani-bashing threads that have popped up. Any behavior the sole purpose of which is to “harvest tears” (and those are always RL tears, no matter how much you say “it is just a game”) is deplorable, regardless of target and how much they deserve it.

But that said, a Goon asking “Is this what Eve Online has degraded to?” is mind-boggling. You folks have tried for years to deliberately degrade EVE, to make it about pointing and laughing, and you have stepped across civil behavior lines repeatedly by e.g. circulating private evemail from people who appear RL hurt, even suicidal. How can you now be indignant that you have actually succeeded, and beyond what you hoped? Did you honestly think that if you encourage human beings to bring out the worst in themselves and go further and further in being tough assholes, you suddenly can stop the development when it suits you? Did you honestly think that when you feel that things are now assholish enough, people will telepathically notice and stop going further?

That’s not how it works. If you encourage people to “ruin the game for you”, “harvest tears”, “make them ragequit”, etc, it will become a competition in which someone will always go one step further. Maybe in your head there always was a limit to it. Maybe you believed that people knew what it was. But people are not like that. If you encourage them to be mean, they will be mean. And some day they might very well be meaner than you liked. “I never meant it to go this far” won’t help then, if you never explicitly spoke of the limits or encouraged a culture where it was ok to admit that well, really, we are not such bad guys, I really did feel bad blowing up that ship.

As sad as it is, you lie in the bed you made.”

Incidentally, if my partner was involved in a hobby that resulted in me getting personal threats and I found out, I would be making him choose between that hobby and me. You don’t do that to someone you care about.

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44 thoughts on “[EVE] How not to do in game/ out-of-game boundaries

  1. /sigh

    I’m NOT a fan of the gamer slang like ‘jews’ or ‘rape’. It’s ignorant at best, and racist/misogynistic at worst.

    Every time I think of the good things that come out of gaming, crap like this floats to the top. And it drives me bonkers knowing that there are a lot of people –like the gamers I know– who will be stereotyped based on the behavior of people like this.

    • No at worst it kills people. There was a Goon Eve player who told the Goons he was feeling suicidal and predictably got trolled. A little later he killed himself and it emerged that he was a veteran suffering from PTSD.

      The consensus in the goon community is that it wasn’t their fault because it would have happened anyway.

      • Oh yes, you find these sort of idiots out there in the real world too, but the lack of any social controls in EVE simply amplifies their behavior.

        If people ever wondered whether a society without controls would degenerate into a Lord of the Flies environment, EVE is a perfect example.

  2. I totally agree, spinks. I’m again disgusted by those things that go on in EVE. Even worse, this time I had decided to really give the game another chance, so I applied for membership in one of the larger (and, as far as their image goes, friendly and civil) corps. So I hope this will work out and I can show that there is a right life in the wrong one, after all.

    I think the problem with the term “jew” is that, unlike, for example, “nigger”, it is not an insult in and of itself. You can be a jew, and nobody will care (regional restrictions may apply). The problem is the way the term is used in EVE and by whom it is used. “Mega-jew” always sounded very dismissive to me, meaning “those greedy hoarders who don’t do anything but push ISK back and forth all day” and “those people that just don’t GET that EVE is all about griefing, and how are you gonna grief people if you don’t kill them?”

    • Jew is not an insult if and only if you’re referring to someone’s religion/ethnicity. I doubt anyone in EVE has EVER used the word jew of another player to mean “he keeps kosher and attends a synagogue”.

      As soon as you use ‘jew’ to mean “filthy rich”, “ruthless businessman” or “charges high interest for loans” (how dare he not lend me the money I want for free?!) then you’re spouting the same crap as the assholes who have made life very unpleasant for jews for, oh, the last two thousand years or so. It’s getting a bit tired by now :)

      • Hm, I’m not sure whether you think we agree or not. But I think we do. :)

        And in addition to the stereotypes you mention, there is – to me – some condescending attitude in that word as it is used in EVE. They use “jew” as a derogatory term for some lesser player who doesn’t fly big ships and blow up other people. A bit like raiders in other games looking down on people who don’t raid. The fact that there is this condescending connotation in using “jew” (as I read it) is telling in itself.

      • Flosch – we agree :) I was using the generic ‘you’ rather than referring to you specifically. English language can be an imprecise tool at times.

  3. Oh, and this post (especially with the quote) would have made a perfect addition to my guest post on the MMO Melting Pot which is scheduled for Wednesday while Hugh is on vacation, but now it’s already queued up and I can’t change it any more. :(

      • EVE will be a hell of a ride for me. It seems I don’t even understand the mindset of the most vocal people in that game. Why would you go and diminish other people’s fun in a game, for no other reason but delight in grief? Why would anybody want to do that?

        Me Playing EVE almost feels like a social science experiment.

  4. “is this a police matter yet?”

    Yes.

    A very annoyed Mrs Mittani posted on the SA boards asking which one of you idiots called them.

    The police are taking it seriously enough that they will be keeping an eye on the house for the next few days.

    Apparently Mittens may have talked one or two of the officers into giving Eve a try. Whatever his faults he sure can talk to people.

  5. The Racial Epitath thing is kind of interesting because it’s born out of the fact that standard curse words are no longer offensive in the online peer groups of these people. Racial insults, however, are still transgressive. No one gives a damn about ‘Fuck You’ anymore. But call someone an N-word and it has an effect because it is still transgressive. It’s not something I like but as it becomes harder to trangress the right as the goal posts shift, people begin to transgress the left.

    Also, thinking about this, any game or rp based internet community ends up as a drama-filled cesspool from the outside looking in. This is because most of them are as the idea of the community tends to override the game underneath. This isn’t as bad as MUSHing eventually got as it went into it’s death throes, for example. It’s just a question of scale.

    • But not every internet gaming community ends up like EVE or LoL. I remember MUSHes getting quite infighting, but I don’t remember OOC threats or sexist/ racist attacks.

      This story is interesting because EVE has been racing to the bottom (or at least that’s the impression you get from outside).

      • I remember parts of MUSHing getting about as close as you could get to that line without crossing it. It was almost as bad as EVE was but with more fake sucide threats and people pretending they were suffering from unspecified trauma triggered by things not going their way.

      • Well, on the MUSHes where I staffed, we had fairly robust policies around this sort of thing and tended to ban people over it ‘for their own good.’

  6. “Incidentally, if my partner was involved in a hobby that resulted in me getting personal threats and I found out, I would be making him choose between that hobby and me. You don’t do that to someone you care about.”

    ((edited to remove personal attack, please don’t do that again. spinks))

    If idiots can make you quit anything, you’d better not leave the bed.

    • If some ‘idiot’ makes a threat, and you ignore it because “it’s just an idiot”, and then you find out the hard way that it’s actually from someone disturbed enough to carry through – who was actually the idiot?

      There are some threats you just don’t take any chances with because of the consequences if you’re wrong (similar to what happens to the jokers who try declaring “I’ve got a bomb in my bag” at the airport)

      • @kiantremayne: maybe I should have written “madman”. Yes, there are dangerous idiots out there. Grab a gun and take them down when they assault you.

        @Spinks: you could edit it because you know it was just making a point. But what if some weird folk would really start to haunt you? Would you give up blogging?

      • Gevlon: Well, first I’d take whatever steps I could to stop it. ie. report it to devs if it was a game, report it to blog host or ISP, etc. But if I or my family was being seriously targetted for harassment then yes, I’d be thinking ‘it’s only a blog, it’s not worth it.’

        Also the reason I can moderate your comment is because this is my blog so I get to lay down the boundaries. And unlike CCP, I am doing so in a clear, consistent and (hopefully) respectful way :) (ie. I didn’t delete the whole comment, just the bit that crossed the line, and I explained clearly why I had done it.)

        Obv since I’m not a Goon, I don’t have to a) pretend I’m an internet tough guy or b) act out about making everyone else cry ‘real tears’ by being abusive to them, so I may be less likely to attract that amount of hatred. But you never know. Funnily enough, in the real world, getting upset if someone threatens your family and taking whatever steps you (legally) can to stop it doesn’t actually make people think you’re weak — quite the opposite.

  7. Did you honestly think that if you encourage human beings to bring out the worst in themselves and go further and further in being tough assholes, you suddenly can stop the development when it suits you?

    No, they just did the same reasonment that a lot of people do when they call for social darwinism / kill the weak: they think and act on it AS LONG AS THEY ARE WINNING. Now that the whole thing is getting out of hand, and they find themselves to be cornered out, the whining begins.
    As I posted elsewhere, if CCP can find a way to concentrate all the assholes in one place: a big thank you from all those who do not play there, you did a fine job of ridding us of the players we don’t want to meet online.

    • I find it sad that Darwin’s name so often gets taken in vain.

      If some maniac shoots Mittens (or worse Mrs Mittens) does that prove that he wasn’t fit to pass his (or her) genes on to a new generation? And therefore improve the human species?

      It’s a way of rationalising tragedy that’s essentially sociopathic.

      • It would prove that social tension is getting to the point where people pull death threats over transgressions not involving themselves directly or indirectly, without feeling any need to examine all facts before pulling the trigger.

        The whole spiral is sign of deeper problems really, independent from actual situation which amount to drunken joke that got press attention – distasteful, bad, black humor, still a joke on a joke panel.

      • “The whole spiral is sign of deeper problems really, independent from actual situation which amount to drunken joke that got press attention”

        Yeah, I agree. That’s really what got my attention. I think sections of the EVE player base are deliberately encouraging metagaming without limits (I don’t think metagaming is great anyway but I do get that in some games it can add to the immersion factor) which can turn into OOC reactions to IC events, which in the hands of someone who doesn’t have a good understanding of boundaries can turn into something very ugly indeed.

        And CCP could have nipped this in the bud with some assertive moderation but instead they went for the “grow a tougher skin, noob” approach and encouraged it.

        I also think that at this point anyone who associates with Goons or sympathises with their QQ noob approach will get tarred with the same brush.

  8. I find it amusing that “The Mittani” uses being drunk as an excuse for his anti-social behaviour. HOWEVER, if you watch the actual event, you might notice these things were part of his actual presentation (the slides he was showing) . I mean he had a slide with that suicidal guy’s letter asking to be left alone .

    Helllooo , i’d call that “premeditated” and not the jagermeisters he was downing at the time that mysteriously changed his presentation. If you ignore what he was saying during the event, and simply read his presentation, he’s a d*ck and was clearly blurring the lines of “IC” and “OOC” (in character vs out of character) .

    • Being drunk is a pretty thin excuse anyway (and doesn’t cut it as a legal defence). Alcohol removes inhibitions – but if someone acts like an asshole when drunk, it’s because they’re assholic under the surface anyway and being drunk just lets their inner asshole out. In vino veritas.

      • In his defence I think his line was not crossed by mocking this player during his presentation. The line was crossed afterwards in the Q&A sessions when he named the character and told people to go see if they could make him kill himself.

        Mocking “tears” in the way it was done during the presentation is absolutely standard practice in Eve and no one would have raised an eyebrow had he not specifically sent people to see if they could get him to commit suicide.

  9. Personally, what I’m taking away from the entire EVE soap opera, is that PvP seems to be truly dead. and that is very saddening.

    Used to be a time when teh true PvPers (so many EVE goons like to style themselves as) actually fought their battles in-game: kicking each others ass there, rallying their guilds, burning each others houses.
    not huffing and puffing on blogs and forums, calling each other names. not acting like complete jackasses during reallife events and holding petty, verbal flamewars for weeks and weeks.

    God, the genre has come such a long way; and most don’t even realize how they’re part of it.

    • Oh, I imagine this all represents a fairly small part of EVE PvP, there are bound to be loads of other players getting on with the day to day play. But really if I was an EVE player who wanted to do something useful to fix the game’s rep, I’d be trying to get some stories out about fun in-game PvP encounters that don’t involve metagaming.

    • Syl do you follow The Ancient Gaming Noob’s blog? (tagn.wordpress.com) He writes about EVE PvP and it certainly doesn’t sound dead. Frequent engagements of 1000+ players as the Goons war with their enemies.

      • I do visit his blog infrequently. that’s good to hear though – one can easily get a very negative view of the EVE community over this debacle. but Spinks is right to point out that it’s only ever a vocal minority. the actual PVPers are busy pvping – ingame.

    • The thing being it’s only because of the metagaming that Eve got any press notice at all. Before that, and the various antics of goonswarm, it was this obscure, kinda dated game that no one really cared about. It was only after it became interesting to write about that it became a thing. So if CCP starts cracking down too hard, they don’t really have a game anymore.

      I have something of a soft spot for the goons because before they came along, the only major discourse of the game was dictated with ‘goblins’ or ‘Free Market Liberterian Asshole’, depending on your point of view, who then found themselves curb stomped by guys in cheap ships who became living emodiments of the flaws of that particular system of thought.

      Though to be honest, the reason you don’t hear about fun PvP encounters is because the combat system itself is kind of Everquest era creaky and not actually that dynamic, making the social aspect the most important part of it.

      • I don’t think that’s fair. Eve has a very sophisticated and involved pvp combat system that is extremely difficult for outsiders to penetrate. But if you know the game well then the Alliance Tournament matches are a delight to watch, quite up there with any other e-sport.

        It’s also very possible to choose different playstyles within the same fight. A hotshot pilot might show off his reflexes in an interceptor, a strategic genius might be scanning down hostiles with astrometric devices, a plodder like me might be trying to keep up with the Fleet Commander’s random and frantic orders and shoot the correct target.

        A lot of people really love Eve pvp.

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  11. The player revealing personal information of another player at an official EO event should have been permanently banned and kicked from the game. As should the person who called for revenge against this player’s family.

    Seriously Eve Online is done and dead. These bad stories are like skunk or stinkbug odor on it that will never wash off.

    Not only that a big part of the problem is the staff of CCP itself. Time and time again, I’ve seen them get off on this kind of behavior. So the recent mess is no surprise.

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  13. The drama concerning this issue is overstated. The original fanfest video is on youtube so watch it and make up your own mind. The people who want this to fester have no interest in The Wiz’s mental health or any noble cause.

    Concerning racism in Eve I’ve haven’t encountered any yet after playing for two months. I’ve lost a couple of ships but I expected that and they have been replaced. Chat works fine can turn on and off. People keep trying to scam me – I’m starting to think some people who play Eve are less than honest. My PvP mining vessel does not work as intended. Eve players might be bad I just cannot find any in game. Outside the game I only go on the forums for information so haven’t seen the threatening RL and racist threads – I’ll have a good search tonight.

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