Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Blurry Line Between What is and What is not


A bit before the below conversation happened, I was reading Mabrick's Mumblings on gameplay. He had written another article about people playing their true self in games.

While I find his thoughts to be interesting, I also disagree with a lot of points. There is a lot of valid information, but personally I felt the topic too broadly painted upon the situations.

I've commented on the reality of Eve. Many have read news articles about people going crazy IRL over things that happened in MMOs. While we are all playing a game, everyone takes that game differently. Eve, in my opinion, steps up that intensity a bit with its system of 'true loss'. While it is a game and we are playing with pixles disgused as sexy spaceships, we still have value to the items and feel loss when they go.

Risk adversion is a very real thing in Eve. Its understood. People like stuff, be it real or virtual. Eve has a world where people can take away that stuff on a whim. When stuff is gone, it is gone. It drives some people crazy.

(An example. Raise your hand if you have ever tried to get a flight of drones back and lost a ship. Drones are not expensive compared to a ship. Yet, players will lose ships waiting for drones to recall instead of leaving. People will go back several systems to a mission to retrieve a forgotten flight of drones. Even inexpensive stuff is *your* stuff and valued).

It is also Eve's draw. It is called nonconsual PvP. It is one of the defining factors of Eve.

(So are pretty images. I'm on a captain's quarters kick for some reason.)

However, Eve does not attempt to tone down a persons ability to be an asshole to someone else. There are rules about griefing but they are much looser and more vague then found in almost every other game out there.

Eve does not force its players to be nice to its other players. This is why the game is featured all over the place as a terrible place full of sociopathic players that spend their time figuring out how to do horrible things to each other.

When viewed from a socital standpoint of functioning communities, its a foreign concept. Some players come into Eve and shed the shackles of civility, some don't, and some just have fun in various ways.

My own playstyle contains many socially unaccpebtale aspects. It causes others to lable me as a 'pirate' and there is a lot of negitivety that goes along with that on both sides. I accept that people will not look past the spaceship violence to see other things. A percentage of the people that live in one area of the game will automatically hand out labeled and assumptions based off of one small amount of information and their own notions of what that means about me. Often times these notions and opinions will fall out of the game and into parallels with real life.

Then it moves from a distaste of my player character to a distaste of me as a player due to player character actions. Due to emotion and/or opinion the line between game and life starts to blur and warp. The process of thought seems to bloom into a concept of if person is willing to do "this" in a game then they must have something about them that desires to do "this" in real life as well.

Then we have Goonswarm. Goonswarm is hated by a large part of the game. They spend a lot of time and energy doing what they want to do. What they want to do often involves a lot of unwanted spaceship touching. It enrages people. It generates massive amounts of attention for the game. It is also the focus of Mabrick's thoughts as that he has had some dealings with them of late.

But, it is Goonswarms society inside of Eve. It can be brought forward with more complexity because Goonswarm is a 'thing' in other games as well. Maybe not the members of Eve, maybe some are members of Eve. but the Goonswarm 'thing' is its own entity. People may participate in that entity when they are part of Goonswarm but that does not mean they carry it beyond Goonswarm.

The question of right and wrong, mortality and choices if a fluid and tangable one in Eve. If, in Eve nothing is wrong but everything is correct when played by the person how do you attach morality? Does the morality of one player truly translate to another who, to a certain extent, comes from a completly different culture that does not have that same moral measure? How is wrong defined when everything to almost every extent is right based on the decision of the person or the group they are a member of?

(obligatory picture to break up words)

The Eve Universe is its own place. It may be considered a 'fantasy' place but it is as real as any other society. It is real because people make it real by acting upon and in its reality. But, that reality is still separated from 'real life' by most people but not by all. For some, there can be no separation and that creates yet another layer of friction.

Judging another person based off of your personal beliefts and thoughts has weight when you have a large group (IE Society) that has agreed upon this. But Eve is composed of hundreds of thousands of micro socieitys. Each corporation and alliance has its own rulebook inside of the Eve Universe. The universe is designed to support and encourage this.

This means that a persons morals and choices are 100% valid for them. But, at some point they are pushing it upon another. Because it is a large, social game and in many ways encourges this pushing, there is a lot of conflict. Some agree, some disagree. The game allows you to attempt to solve your disagreements if you wish to do so. One reason the forums are so full of alternate characters in NPC corps with zero history is because in Eve, your words matter and someone may pay a social consiquence to whomever you upset.

When/how does this translate over into real life? It is a constant question. On the forums, posts about Eve Players being psycopaths pop up all the time. If you read my previous two posts from yesterday about the sheer amount of spaceship carnage just because, would one question me as a psycopath?

How does the war in Delve come into play? A war so big it has generated out of game notice at Game Breaker: EVE Online Players Gear Up For Interstellar War and PC Gamer: Tens of thousands of EVE pilots fight over Delve region.

And then there was Burn Jita. Euro Gamer: CCP analyses Eve Online "Burn Jita" event and Geek Systems: Players’ Attempt to Destroy EVE Online Economy Gets Thumbs-Up From Developers UPDATED

Oh and the latest where five players gamed the system for 7 trillion in isk.

Down to discussions on the forums about the palayers being psychopaths and sociopaths for playing a game as freely as the game intends them to play it. Or the people that quit because their spaceship was violanced in a game where spaceships can be violanced... or the people that ignore the rest of the game population and get upset when the game population does not ignore them back in a multiplayer game.

All of this has been floating around my head for a while. The concept is very large and very hard to grasp. Stepping back and viewing something from a third party perspective is complex. It is made worse when parties are caught up in the subject or emotionaly invested.

I like to try to see the various sides of the argument. Even if I do not agree with them I want to see them. I seek to understand them even if I do not feel or emotional accept them.

I'm also mildly argumentative. So, I was amused when the below conversation happened only an hour or so after I had finished reading Mabrick's blog.

(Thank god for pictures)

It started out with a simple question from this person who I will name "D" about finding out what POSs were in a system. He wanted to know if the game maps generated that information and he was told no.

"R" > Maybe the entire game is boring?
"R" > probing is useless too, there are never any good sites
"SK"> I explore
"R" > I quit exploring cause it sucks
"N" > Exploring if fine. You just sucked at it. All the other explorers are doing great.
"SK"> plenty of sites in low sec
"R" > I don't go in low sec
"N" > highsec exploration is crowded and...a bit above average if down effectively.
"N" > Your fault you won't go into lowsec. You want everything handed to you in cushy, safe highsec?
"R" > I just don't want to lose all my ships
"R" > every time I warp into low sec
"SK"> losing ships happens
"N" > Losing ships is normal.
"R" > Not fun to lose all your money though
"G" > low sec isn't that dangerous, there's no bubbles. and if yyou fly a frig you have nothing to lose
"L"> Take a T1 cruiser into lowsec, run a couple of radar/mag sites, and you've already made the value of your ship back and more. Totally worth it imho
"R" > And get destroyed in the process? factory? (buy reaents on market, process - sell) or minig is the only option?
"SK"> you could always seek knowledge to learn how to move around in low/null "R"
"A"> "R": yes! It's EVE - fully pvp world!
"L"> If you get destroyed on your next flight in, you've still made a profit just with a couple of sites
"D"> Yeah. PvP is *so* cool. I found two PvP-fitted destroyers floating around a destroyer-max DED acceleration gate. So they basically wanted to fight people in PvE gear who didn't outgun them. Yeah. That rocks.
"N" > "D", that's called tactical thinking.
"L"> and you probably won't get blown up 50% of times you go into lowsec, honestly. Lots of it is empty anyway; learn tricks like cloak/mwd, learn d-scan, learn safespots, and you'll be mostly safe
"SK"> "D", in low sec?
"N" > You think a PvPer would intentionally make things easy for you? What kind of idiot walks into a fight they might lose? Any fleet commander who goes into a fair fight is a moron.
"A"> "D": and jumping on these 2 ppl in Pilgrim wold be just awesome!
"SK"> Cuz a lotta people consider the gates to the small complexs to be a great site to meet up to have fights...
"D"> That;'s called being a high school dropout hanging out near the Jr High looking for people to pick fights with. That's not strategy - that's cowardice.
"N" > Cowardice?
"N" > They win. You lose.
"N" > The difference between you and the coward is that you're hiding in highsec scared of them.
"D"> I can smack preschoolers around all day. Doesn't make me a stud.
"J D"> "N" its called being a p#$y and a coward
"T" > most modern military doesn't work exactly on honor use stealth bombers to take out tanks and that cowardice as well?
"D"> C O W A R D I C E - end of story.
"J D"> it would be like me going and picking on a 10 year old in RL
"N" > Cowardice?
"N" > It's cowardice to want to survive and take down an enemy?
"D"> "N" : No. Of course not. The problem is with the word "Enemy"
"D"> The folks headed to the DED gate aren't aggressing
"N" > If you are in lowsec and you are not on the same side as them? You're the enemy.
"D"> Nope. And you know it. You're just making arguments - but you know they're bogus.
"SK"> It seems more as if you are speaking from your own personal moral standpoint and attempting to force that upon others in a game enviorment that allows for all sorts of fighting options
"T H"> "D" Its not nice what they have done but think of if EVE as a world without rules. People will do all they can to do profit. If this means bully smallers they will since there isnt a state/police that will stop them.
"SK"> And attempting to have others accept your lables of good and bad,nright and wrong etc and not understanding that they have their own versions based off of their own gameplay...
"SK"> really, tbh... you sound mad bro
"D"> It's possible, but I'm willing to bet that if we met in real life, and looked one another in the eye, you wouldn't try so hard to make that point - you'd just blush and give it up. I'm not actually mad - I've only had 4 pvp encounters in 2 years playing
"D"> so by and large, I've done quite well
"SK"> this is not real life, this is in game...
"SK"> And I'd happily sit and argue it
"SK"> I will be at Eve Vegas, October 5-7th
"SK"> and anyone come come have a nice conversation with me about how I'm a terrible person for being a pirate
"SK"> I promise I won't blush and I won't weep because I've meet you as a person and I voilanced space ships in a game :D
"N" > "EVE isn't designed to just look like a cold, dark and harsh world; it's designed to be a cold, dark and harsh world." - CCP Wrangler
"N" > Fair play in EVE is a joke.
"D"> I am NOT calling the pvp folks cowards - really! Rooks & Kings, etc., are cool people
"SK"> but to sit in chat and argue over versions of morality for spaceship touching will just go around and around in cricles
"N" > EVE was never designed from the outset to be fair to anyone.
"N" > The PvPers who camp gates? They're thinkers. They use their knowledge of game mechanics and playstyles to tailor a battlefield to their advantage.
"D"> They are NOT thinkers. That takes no thought. "Lemme go to where people will be GUARANTEED to have weaker ships and non-PvP gear, and ambush them".
"D"> Seriously. Who would argue that?
"N" > There's no thinking in PvP?
"N" > Okay. It's obviously very easy.
"D"> STOP twisting my words
"N" > You go ahead and try it.
"N" > You ever set up a gatecamp?
"I F" > umm, what - you think PVPers should be forced to seek out people in stronger ships than them who are ready for a fight?
"N" > When was the last time you organised fitting and ship synergy for a PvP trip?
"D"> I said there was no thinking involved in DED gatecamp. And no - never set a gatecamp. Never even fired a shot in anger.
"SK"> "D", some people enjoy that tremendiously. There is a lot of isk to be found in shuttles and frigates, its one reason people do it... easy easy iskies
"SK"> Every DED plex I visit is looking for people to fight, if they are camping a DED gate I can't belive that they are not in low sec
"N" > Yeah. I figured you'd be complaining about something you didn't understand and couldn't empathise with.
"D"> LOTS of people are brave and clever and PvP. LOTS of them. I cited R&K as one of them.
"D"> I am NOT dissing pvp in general at all
"D"> Not at all
"N" > Rooks and Kings never fight on the enemy's terms. They only pick fights they expect to win.
"D"> I *am* saying that two destroyers camping a destroyer-capped DED gate is wuss.

(Almost done, promise, another picture, it helps...)

The conversation was derailed after this when someone with a real question popped up and everyone stopped arguing to help them out. D vanished and did not return to finish up.

"N" loves to argue and a troll at heart. He argues well thou and drove "D" to distraction. His opinion here is his own. I've known him for most of my (now)7 months of play and he too has changed and grown as a player. Sometimes I have to block him for days due to his trollish nature but I also have incredible conversations with him at other times.

The argument that D made, makes sense from the stand point of "Why?"

However, "Why" is such a major question in Eve. The answers range from, "Because" to "Profit" and off to "Bet" or "Contract hit" all the way down to, "Paid to keep empty."

Really, there is no answer except for the one given by the people that are doing the action. They are the only ones who know why they are doing what they are doing.

Lables such as coward and bully do not apply because this is the Eve Universe. If I were to blow up a poorly fitted battleship flown by an inept pilot in my cruiser, am I a bully for being more experienced? Why would I be? Should I have also gotten into a poorly fitted battleship?

Ehonor? Epeen? Mr. Epeen? What is it? When does it apply? Why should it apply? Why should everyone have it? It seems to be a personal decision for each party. One that again, can not be considered wrong. That would mean that every action is black and white, hero and villain when in fact, each action is a different shade of possibility.

How can labeles be glued so precariously to situations? It is something that I ask myself. There is so much not known. Read the battle reports from each side of a battle. Incredibly different things happened according to each side but each side experiences the same action.

Because, I do not like it, does not make it wrong that someone else did it.

I'm gonna stop writing now.


  1. ....and I thought _I_ wrote tl;dr poasts!! Future complaints of "tl;dr" on my blog (if I ever get around to actually _playing_ EVE enough to warrant writing about it again) will result in links to this post. ;-)

    I found one little gem that you mentioned and seems to be a foundational thesis of your argument:
    "Judging another person based off of your personal beliefts and thoughts has weight when you have a large group (IE Society) that has agreed upon this."
    ^^ not really. To throw out the Gewn/Nazi cliche again, lots of people thought Jews were the source of all the worlds' wrongs, and whites were the Supreme Master Race, destined to conquer the planet.
    Lots of people "agreed" upon those points, yet many others would still, and rightfully so, contest their validity. ;-)

    If you wanted a quick summary of my personal views on the "majority rule" clause of ethics and morals, simply google "quotes, HL Mencken, Democracy". ;-) Throw in Mark Twain's "Whenever I find myself agreeing with the majority, I question my thinking," (paraphrased cause not going to look up exact phrasing) and that about does it in a nutshell.

    I'm on-again, off-again about EVE Vegas. May go, would _like_ to go, but work may preclude that, despite that being the weekend of my birthday. :-/
    If I show up, though, you can buy me a birthday round and we'll talk EVE-philosophy as much as ye like. :-)

    1. I have my days... when it is really bad like this I try to toss up those TL;DRs to warn people :P

      I'll also add in that what I say may not always reflect my personal actions. But I'll also say that the weight of society call to conform is quite fierce at times. For some, its to much stress to resist.

      My phrasing may be very bad. But, I'd also say that it still had validity to the person even if the judgement and belief is utter crap.

      To reflect upon Eve "Pirates are evil" and a hundred people will agree and point to the ganks, and camps, and general wonton destruction and one person will say "but they were nice to me." The pressure is given in the thousand reasons why they are still evil, despite that persons individual actions.

      I guess, my goal was to ask people to understand that their judgement is coming from what is accepted inside of their group but it may be/often is contained inside of that group as well. Another group may have another view point and to them that view point is valid.

      Maybe I'm just thinking about the difference is as real as what is normal and right or wrong to you.

      I'm already wandering on the topic again...

    2. In the end, "right" and "wrong" are just words. <--- something you might read from a fortune cookie after all the won-ton destruction you can handle at the local Chinese buffet joint.

      Srsly, though, taken to another level, they're mere _opinions_ -- and we all know the value of those, as well as how people will connive and manipulate to achieve the exact "opinion" they desire to push a certain outcome. :-)

      Also -- I can tell I've been off blogger for a while. I forgot how to "follow" blogs! :-/ lol lil halp?

  2. Back on-topic, though:
    Know what I really wanted out of EVE and just find sadly lacking? 1) truly immersive gameplay, that leads to
    2) actual REASONS for PvP
    Right now, sure, you can declare yourself a piwate and go blow up random ships in lowsec for shits, giggles, and occasionally profits... but ASIDE from that, what's the choices for "legitimate conflict"?
    -Join the CFC or SoCo (disclaimer: I'm currently in SoCo... moar bitching bout that later lol). Be told where to fight, when to fight, what to bring to the fight, and how to fly it. Soloers especially, and "small gang" players to a lesser degree, are looked upon with outright disdain.
    -join FW and fight for control of systems...where control of systems means....??? Oh, right, no docking rights for your "enemies", and you pay less at the LP store for stuff. Why are the factions actually fighting again? And why can't they turn certain lowsec systems into hisec, or opposing hisec into lowsec? FW won't _truly_ be meaningful until it can affect hisec in a direct and hopefully painful-to-everyone way.
    -join RvB and...oh right, there's really no reason for them to fight except Red. And Blue.
    -join a hisec dec/merc corp and [slaughter hapless fools] fight cause you're paid to.

    It's pretty easy to say "all PvPers are bad gais" when there's really no _practical_ way within the game mechanics to PvP as a "good gai"... :-/ FW is as close as it comes, I guess, but even then FW is developing a lot of the same "bad" tendencies as sov war. Guess that's what happens when you deliberately turn FW into "sov lite"...? *shrug*