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Thursday, March 27, 2014

It' a Discussion the Gaming Community Needs to Have

I told myself I wasn't going to get involved in this one. I told myself it was getting all the attention it needed. I told myself it was another blogger's threadnaught and he should reap the "rewards" for it. I think I lied to myself.

I'm talking about Jester's can of worms he opened up over an EVE Online player going by the handle Erotica 1 of course. Erotica 1 did a horrible, horrible thing to another human being and Jester used it to make a point. I'll have more on that at the end. Now, this post isn't just about EVE Online. This post is about unacceptable behavior anytime, any place, anywhere by anybody. As you read, you'll see mostly references to the current EVE Online kerfuffle, but that's only because it is convenient. Make no mistake, I mean this for ANYONE who interacts with other people in an online game - and that means everyone reading this.

I've avoided the thread-naught over on the official EVE Online forums because  I already have a position on this issue. I've written about it more than occasionally. I'll summarize my position for you so you don't have to go hunt down those posts. Abusing other people for "sport" is wrong. Period. I live by the golden rule: treat others as you expect them to treat you. No one wants to be abused by another, so abusing another is wrong. I don't care if you are playing a game, or working a job, or just walking down the street. It is wrong to abuse another being for your own enjoyment.

As a society, we have some fairly obvious rules concerning abuse. We have ledger after ledger filled with laws that spell it out for us. Particularly heinous abuse can get a person sentenced to death in many countries of the world including my own. In others, the offense doesn't even have to be heinous, just counter to the controlling culture. And there are score upon score of lesser punishments meted out to those who violate the cultural norms of the society they live in. This is how human society has always been. The Bible and the code Hammurabi made show us how old such cultural control is. And I guarantee you its use extends much farther into the past than those notable tomes indicate. Society would not function without such rules.

So here we are part of a subculture (gamers) within a larger culture. All of us know what the rules are for our parent culture. And what Jester described most certainly crosses the line in most, if not all, of our cultures. That is in general agreement. What Erotica 1 did was wrong. Period.

But the discussion here isn't about whether it was wrong or not. The discussion is about what we as a sub-culture should do about it, if anything. And people's responses have run the gamut of human reaction to such things. Here is a bit of what I've read paraphrased.

  • It happened outside the subculture so there is nothing we can do.

  • It's up to the victim to pursue remediation.

  • There was no abuse because he could have "hung up" at any time.

  • CCP has to ban Erotica 1.

  • Erotica 1 did nothing against the EULA or TOS so CCP should do nothing.

  • The police should investigate.

  • This isn't my problem.

  • You're just giving the bad person free publicity and you are wrong for having brought this up.

There are more, but that should do. Are any of these responses correct? Are any of them flat wrong? It doesn't matter. You are missing the point. We are a community; a culture unto our own. We have to make a decision. Do we allow the sort of abuse Erotica 1 perpetrated with his cronies or do we not support it? If we don't support it, what are we going to do about it? If we are going to do something about it, what can we do? Who should do it?

Since the majority of our subculture feels what happened is wrong, the logical next step is to figure out how our community is going to prevent something like this from happening again. It isn't a question of punishing Erotica 1. It's a question of whether or not we can take steps to discourage such wrongness in the future, and should it happen anyway what sort of punishment we should then give out. Punishment is a deterrent. It's an ages old method of encouraging people within a society to act according to societal norms. It is a cause and affect mechanism. You can't punish someone after the fact if you haven't clearly defined what wrong behavior is. So Erotica 1 probably gets a pass on this one.

But punishment for future transgressions needs to happen. It must happen. As the Internet age progresses, and more and more people interact over vast distances where they will never have to face one another in real person, we have to create a code of conduct that ensures everyone in our society is safe from the other members of our society. This is what it means to be a human society. And to be certain, this is something the world society has a whole must come to terms with. And CCP is not exempt from having to do their fair share in developing these rules of conduct.

You can make all the technical distinctions you want about it not being in CCP's purview to do anything about it. You can steadfastly believe no gaming company should have to do anything about interpersonal issues like abusing another player. But that's like saying a city mayor has no role in enforcing the laws of the society in general. Regardless of what the legalese in the EVE Online EULA or TOS says, there is a basic level of human decency that must be recognized in all this. CCP may not be compelled to act, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't act. We've had discussions before about how it hurts CCP's brand for these sorts of stories to circulate. They DO have a vested interest in addressing this. And what's more, I believe they have a legal obligation to act.

Any company that invites the community at large to enjoy the services they offer has an implicit obligation to ensure the safety of those they invite. Society at large has decreed that theaters must have fire exits. Why? Because they have an obligation to keep safe those who come into the theater to watch movies. Food manufactures are required to keep their processing lines free of salmonella bacteria. Why? Because they have an obligation to keep consumers who buy their products free of illness from eating them. So it is that CCP has a a similar obligation to their customers, us, the gaming subculture - even if that means they must keep us safe from each other. They may not like that responsibility, but it is there nonetheless.

And since Erotica 1 used EVE Online to launch his abuse, CCP has more than a little responsibility to try and ensure that does not happen again. That responsibility may be as little as posting in large pulsating letters, "DON'T DO THIS OR YOU MAY BE SORRY" at login. It may need to be part of new player training. But be assured, they must do their due diligence in this. I personally feel they have not done enough to protect their customers from the predatory behavior of other customers. And CCP has it even more difficult than most gaming companies because their game promotes such behavior as part of the game play. That certainly makes it more difficult to do the due diligence, but they must do it anyway.

And guess what friends, so do we all. Especially we who write and speak for the community. It was blatantly stated by @gamerchick42 that Jester was wrong to give Erotica 1 so much attention. And since you won't allow comments, I'll make the comment here. No he wasn't. As spokesman for the community, it was his OBLIGATION to bring it up. One member of our little society committed a horrible abuse on another, and our little society has no way of handling it, or stopping it, or containing it. We cannot keep our own members safe, and we should. We need to or our little gaming community will fail. But what's worse, we share complicity when we allow the abuse and do nothing. But stopping such abuse is NEVER going to happen unless we have this conversation first. And this conversation starts when the deeds of Erotica 1 are made public. So what Jester did was absolutely within the bounds of his obligation to the greater community he serves. I commend him for stepping up and taking the heat for doing it. That's what real leaders do. Well done sir, I salute you. o7

Now the rest of us have a decision to make. Do we ignore this problem or do we address it as a community to ensure it never happens again? You know how I feel on the subject. How do you feel? Do you want to be safe from abuse, or would you rather take your chances? Wait before you answer. In fact, forget about you. What about your child, or your sister or your younger nephew? Do you want them to be safe? Do you want them to have an encounter with Erotica 1?

I didn't think so. That's why society has laws, to protect our children and those less capable of self-protection. So let's step up to the plate on this one and do the right thing. CCP, you have an obligation. Please live up to it. Everyone else, you have an obligation. Do the right thing. And for anyone reading this who thinks Erotica 1 is a l33t kewl-dude and deserves a pat on the back, I hope the golden rule doesn't make itself known to you real fast and in a hurry.


  1. As a community, we need to decide that it's not funny, and we need to not laugh at it. The rest follows, slowly and painfully, but it follows.

  2. Well said.

    I have some issues with the particular posts on this that Ripard has made, mostly because I feel they cloud the real issue and mix it up within his general crusade against the nastier side of the game. However he should be commended by the player base for inititiating the discussion, and forcing CCP to pay attention to it.

  3. Unfortunately, some people will find it funny, and they might even insist on laughing at it. Sorting that part out is the part that's going to be painful. Coffee Rocks says they can follow Erotica 1 out the airlock, and I'm not inclined to disagree. On the other hand, we really can't pretend that there isn't going to be some ejecting of enablers if we're going to eject the actors.

  4. I'd say that while scamming is a vital part of EVE and makes for some of the most interesting stories to read about (for people that don't actually play the game 'yet') there is a huge difference between the actual scam and then the vilifying of the victim afterwards.

    I'd agree with just about everyone on the first premise of the scam, he gave money to someone he didn't know, got something back and fell to the whims of greed later. Sure, that can happen to anyone; but going on a 'tear crusade' for 2 hours in TeamSpeak is going a bit above board; even that being said- he was a willing participant in the entire spectacle so the 'victim' in this scenario isn't entirely free from blame either.

    I don't know which route CCP should take, and I'm sure it's up to internal deliberation (especially as I have personally gotten in more trouble for far, far less of a deed) at this point; although while it may not be an actual violation of either the EULA or Terms of Service, CCP can end a users access to their game or community at any time, without notice or reason.

  5. This link has an excellent quote ... "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.". Enough said.

  6. The point here at that the letter of the law has been maintained, but the spirit of law has been transgressed.

    Fon Revedhort was removed from running for CSM 8 because he was offensive to the community. In the same vein why do we need to continue to tolerate something equally distasteful?

  7. I have to admit that, at this point, the amount of victim-blaming I've run across is really, really stunning. Sure, like any good scam, it depends on the cupidity of the mark, and that opens them up to plenty of avenues to be accorded some responsibility, but, at some point, the fact that someone trusted foolishly means nothing in the face of the sheer monstrousness of the abuse of that trust. At this point, I've reached the point of thinking, "permaban Erotica 1, ban his associates, and ban anyone who argued we shouldn't ban him because the victim turned out to be a hateful person when he broke. (I am willing to negotiate down to warnings for that last group.)" Obviously, I shouldn't be in charge of sentencing here, but, for the love of your pink, fluffy deities, the only think keeping me playing EVE now is that the group I fly with would kick anyone who did something like that so hard his ass would be going interstellar.

  8. For me, I say add Erotica 1 to the in-game KOS(Kill On Sight) list. IF CCP won't police this kind of thing, we certainly can and should. One doesn't quibble about whether a rattlesnake has broken any laws or is dangerous to the kids in the back yard, one simply shoots it. I've known some nasty people in EVE, and one or two of them are on Permanent KOS lists for large groups of people. We've even been known to pass the word to their current associates about the kind of person they truly are whenever they pop their heads up and we can figure out which toon they are living in today. I was raised to respect other people and to be polite and treat people the way I want to be treated in return. There is no place in MY world for a "person" like this one or any of his friends. Even within the "sandbox" where people delight in "ganking" other players, there is still a place for courtesy and respect. The times I get truly upset in the game are usually when someone does something like this to another player. People like this not only tarnish our game, but tarnish our real world, too.

  9. Thank you for your comments, Ranamar. Obviously Mabrik and I disagree on how to handle this, but I absolutely applaud him speaking up in such a well-thought out (and very well written) way. I honestly checked his blog before heading to bed just to see if he had decided to post something. You can imagine how delighted I was today to see that he did while I slept :)

    Also, the biggest reason I chose to reply here? I said to myself: OMG SOMEBODY SAID MY NAME IN A COMMENT ON A DIFFERENT BLOG!!!1! ;)

  10. Sometimes youre better than good, this is one of those times, bravo :-)

  11. Good post Mabrick. I've taken a look at the eula recently and there is a very nice sentence about Conduct
    "Your continued access to the System and license to play the Game is subject to proper conduct. Without limiting CCP's rights to control the Game environment, and the conduct of the players within that environment, "

    If CCP thinks that the mentioned actions against other players are not part of "proper conduct" they have all the right to exclude someone from this game (or environment). I for myself can say that this action was far beyond proper conduct even if it is not spelled out as an explicit rule. As a human being I would assume that the basic rules of social interaction should be clear to everyone in the civilized world.

    It is pretty shocking to see so many defenders for this actions. If one of my friends gets scammed out of all his assets it is ok. He made a mistake and will hopefully learn from it. But abusing the weakness of such victim is plainly sadistic and you shouldn't need additional rules to make it obvious that this is not "proper conduct".

  12. There is a lot of "as a community" and "we" in your post... but if almost 300 pages of GD discussion have shown anything then that "the community" is deeply divided over this issue. Maybe the answer to the question posed in your second to last paragraph looks really obvious to you - but that's just how it looks to you and not how it looks to me, to that guy over there or to "the community".

    And for once our player representatives actually represent that state of the community: Ripard is very vocal about shutting down this sort of behavior, Mynnna is in favor of shutting down Erotica's bonus room but without trying to engage in a discussion on matters of principle as Ripard does, Malcanis is very vocal about not restricting such behavior in any way, and the large majority of the delegates silent.

    "The community" does not speak with one voice on this matter and any effort to assert otherwise is to mistake whatever subcommunity you happen to hang out with most of your time as "the community" at large. Any decision would seriously alienate a substantial part of the EVE playerbase - which is exactly why we got a non-decision from CCP.

    Myself I am torn over this matter. On the one hand this behavior does clearly constitute bullying and is in method and outcome quite comparable with schoolyard bullying in real-life. But then we are dealing with grown adults, not with vulnerable children, and the entire anti-cyberbullying hysteria of the past few years has left me heavily prejudiced against trying to reign in this sort of behavior in any way.
    Isn't there an important life lesson in getting pushed up to your breaking point and then stepping up to declare that you will not suffer this abuse anymore?
    Isn't the greed that motivates bonus room participants anti-social in itself and isn't there a need for punishment, maybe even public punishment as a deterrent?

    I haven't been able to make up my mind so far. At this point I think the best course of action is to abstain from trying to rip apart the EVE playerbase over this matter while at the same time encouraging victims to seek whatever legal recourse against cyberbullying their jurisdiction has (lawmakers have been falling over each other to pass the most ridiculous anti cyberbullying laws, so there should be options in most places).

  13. As one who was abused when I was younger, I want a point.

    I have seen many people judge this situation without really understanding what the victim went through. I’m not here to convince anyone that they are wrong in their opinion, or offer suggestions on how CCP/the community should respond, but I want people to gain a glimmer of what the victim went through, so they can make a more informed opinion.

    Abuse literally changes the way you think. I mean your brain, it actually alters your brain and how it works, and not for the short term. I’m still dealing with issues caused by my abuse and it’s been 25 years since it happened. So for those who are attempting to minimize the abuse (he could have just left, it’s no big deal, he was greedy/na├»ve/stupid, etc.), you don’t understand the depth and severity something like this causes.

    This isn’t a humiliating episode, forgotten in hours/days/weeks, this is something that will alter their (he and his wife) lives forever.

    Abuse traps you in a mental box that you feel you can’t escape from. Whether that’s actually true or not, the victim of abuse feels it, to the core of his being. You can’t fight, either because you can’t feel you can win, like me, or there’s nothing to fight against, like the victim of Erotica1’s abuse. You can’t flee, because there’s no where you can flee to, or the loss in fleeing is unacceptable.

    The effects of abuse are further compounded by the fact that, rightly or wrongly, the victim feels that on some level he deserves it, so the only way to ‘redeem’ himself in his eyes is to try to ‘win’ against his abusers, further trapping him that mental box.

    Believe me, as a fellow victim of abuse, there is no winning, there is only minimizing the damage, and most of the time, that only makes things worse too.

    When I stopped playing EvE, I had 4 years of assets stored away. Imagine something that you had owned for 4 years. Maybe it’s a car you’ve owned and molded your life around. Maybe it’s a career you have and are trying to build a future around. *Snap-fingers* it’s gone, and the only way to get it back is to do whatever the person on the other end of the phone/VOIP/email/etc. 4 years of your life are gone.
    Has anyone here been fired from their job? Then you know how completely devastating that is. Now take something like EvE (which is real, remember) and add the huge amount of personal investment in time and energy. For every hour I played EvE, I spent an additional hour talking with my CEO about our corporation, the direction we wanted to take it, about our corpmates, the game itself, and any myriad number of details surrounding the game. While I only played EvE maybe 20-30 hours a week, my total energies devoted to the game probably amounted to 50+. And EvE was something that I wanted to do, unlike my job. I spent hours at work thinking about the things I had to do, planning and preparing. Hell, I haven’t played for over a year, and here I am still devoting a portion of each day reading blogs and making comments.

    And now it’s all gone. Can you imagine the sense of loss, of desperation, even of shame and humiliation, having to start over from literally from scratch?

    How would you feel?

    My fellow EvE players (both past and present), its okay to have an opinion, but do try to see this from the victim’s point of view, and not on the outside looking in.

  14. Thank you for sharing this. It is difficult for others to empathize with the victim in such instances because they have no basis for comparison. Most people will never go through the abuse this poor fellow or you did. They can't understand how it affects the victim - how Stockholm syndrome for example can be. But it IS real. I don't completely understand it, but I have a sister who was abused by a babysitter. I at least have seen first hand these brain changes (for lack of a more technical description) of which you speak. They are as profound as they are real. People need to accept they simply are real and stop with the victim bashing. The victims are not the ones in control of the attack.

  15. […] my post concerning Erotica 1 and the earthquake that followed, I was asked by Xolve via twitter if I’d do a follow up post […]


Be civil, be responsible and most of all be kind. I will not tolerate poor form. There will be no James Hooks here. We are all better than that.

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