Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Harassment Versus Interaction

I'm not going to go into The Mittani's actions at fanfest and the subsequent debate as a lot of others have weighed in and I don't feel I'd bring anything new to the discussion.

Instead I want to focus on this post that my friend Andrew pointed me to at a site called Muckbeast:

Poisonous Online Communities and the Apathy of Developers

Every time another news article appears about EVE Online, I am reminded why I would never play this game. I’m consistently impressed by their open world, single server, high skill cap design, but depressed by their encouragement of a community based on harassment, abuse, and betrayal.
CCP launches investigation after Eve Online FanFest panel accused of mocking suicidal player
“I want to reassure you that CCP in no way condones the harassment of players”
Huh? That’s an asinine statement from CCP’s PR folks. CCP openly condones and encouragements harassment (and worse) of players.
There are so many utterly poisonous game communities out there right now. EVE, WoW, League of Legends. I don’t understand why these game developers just let it get this bad.
Yes, community management is difficult, but not so difficult that you should just throw up your hands and surrender.
Perhaps this is why games like our own Threshold RPG can thrive despite being 16 years old and wayyy behind the curve technologically. There was a time where I’d say our USP was “required roleplay.” I still think that is the case, but I’m starting to think “a community that isn’t evil” is starting to be just as important.
 (Emphasis mine)

Wow! That's some vitriol!

But this view of Eve Online by people outside of the game and not as accepting of the large latitude of human interaction it allows is not uncommon. So used they are to games that try protect you and your in-game items from other player's interference that the "wild west" atmosphere of this game can seem oppressive and exploitative.

I emphasized three points in that post, let's look at them.

"[CCP's] encouragement of a community based on harassment, abuse, and betrayal" and "CCP openly condones and encouragements harassment (and worse) of players."

The word harassment comes up  in both sentences there and I think its fair to say that the definition of this word that you use in your head changes those sentences a lot. These sentences also change their tone a lot if you think of the target of the unwanted interactions as the character in the game or the person behind the character.

So let's be clear and state up front that CCP allows free interaction between people in game as their characters. This is why suicide ganking, war decs, scamming, corp theft, etc are allowed: its one character's actions impacting another character. CCP in fact does encourage this free form interaction and its worth noting that it also allows players for form helpful corporations and act as guides to other players, giving donations, helping out in PvP scenarios, running missions or mining ops together, etc. Its easy to only focus on the negative of the free form interaction in game.

While they allow character harassment to a point, they do draw a line and have some little known stipulations that prevent endless griefing of a character or killing of new characters in starter systems. What they do not allow in any manner is actual harassment of a person. Death threats, hacking, impersonation are all examples that CCP comes down hard on.

Essentially, CCP openly condones and encourages free interaction between players within the confines of the game (and some exceptions).

Now let's look at the last bolded part. "[Eve is one of many] utterly poisonous game communities". I think that is a pretty big brush to paint everyone in Eve with. Out of 350,000 accounts, even if 1% of them were complete sociopathic jerks, that is still 3500 accounts with up to three characters each to make a bad impression with the rest of world. My point is that you don't see news article after news describing the kindness and selfishness of Eve players yet it happens day in and day out. Eve University is running on 6 years of players doing nothing but teaching people how to survive in Eve. Agony Unleashed has classes on PvP. Open University of Celestial Hardship for null sec survival. Even Goons, the most hated of hated groups, is extremely helpful and supportive of new players in their ranks (as long as they came from the common outside-Eve community of Something Awful).

Hell, Project Halibut takes donations from vets and gives away free ships to newbs. For every betrayal you read on Eve News 24 there are thousands of loyal wingmen that would give their best ship for their wingmates. For every alliance disband, there are hundreds that live and die with loyal members. For every corp theft, there is a corp with an open hanger policy that is never raided. For every scam, there are tens of thousands of normal contracts for goods and services at regular market prices.

Eve is no more "poisonous" than any community of any size out there, and honestly, reading through the blog pack and podcasts might convince you we are on the whole nicer than most.


  1. Reading the forums on the other hand would convince you that the vocal minority of Eve are a bunch of complete jerks. And that is the minority that is seen by the outside world. It is a matter of perception, not of how things may or may not be (personally I think you are being a little rose tinted glasses there).

    BTW you don't feel a comparison LoL is fair? again, read the forums play a little LoL, I assure you the comparison is valid.

    Having said all that, I largely agree with you, most of my day to day interactions with other pilots are fairly good natured and sometimes even generous. Eve's problem has always been one of perception and having a chair of the CSM start something like this is...not helpful.

  2. The issue isn't so much that players are "good" or "evil", but the simple fact that most MMOs, by virtue of their very core mechanics, don't allow you to undertake the kinds of actions that EVE does.
    It's really disingenuous to take a game where "scamming" is a no-warning 1st time perma-ban offense, or there's no real way to do it, and hold it up to EVE and say "see, the community here is SOOOO much better, we don't have scamming.." sounds like a statement I'd expect from N Korea, comparing itself to America.

  3. Also, I guess if you wanted to throw the "RL" legalities into it, most jurisdictions define "harassment" as continued contact with another party, after they have advised you they wish no further contact ... excepting of course other than to undertake legitimate business (bill collection, service of court order, etc).
    So really, if you pop a miner, and he tells you in plainly and simply in your native language, that he doesn't want you interacting with him in any way anymore, you're technically "harassing" him, if you wanted to bring the RL legal definition into it...
    Whereas CCP has NO issue whatsoever with the continued contact vis a vis gankings, etc, I guess you COULD make a fair argument that they DO condone harassment, after all. ;-)

  4. Anonymous7:27 am

    I've played on Threshold. It's a MUD version of an autocratic police state ruled by a petty tyrant.

    I know which type of terrible game to play, and it isn't his.

  5. Well, I tried. There's that old expression: non so blind as those that will not see.

    And this guys misplaced both his glasses and his sense of proportion gene...

  6. Just a slight correction. Eve University has run for 8 years. The fun fact is that the Uni has been helping new players longer than World of Warcraft has been running. Of course, that kind of thing isn't considered newsworthy.

  7. As in most things where in humans interact with other humans, it's the drama that gets noticed. Drama is interesting, easy to create, easier to write about AND it 'sells' whatever yer selling... almost as well as sex.

    I agree that for every asshat in EVE there are 1000 good ol boys... my home corp and the corp and Alliance I am currently in are prime examples.

    What I love about EVE is the decent asshats I have known. There was the guy who killed and podded me for due to a mistake I made, then he looked me up, realized just how noob I was, apologized as he dunt like to kill noobs so he replaced my Rifter and mods.

    There is the war deccer who dec'ed my corp when we were noobs, we fought and lost terribadly (lost 4 ships & a pod to one guy in an Ishtar) and he became one of our tightest frens ingame.

    These are the stories I wish were told in the media.