"And yet I am not convinced of it," I answered. "The cases which come to light in the papers are, as a rule, bald enough, and vulgar enough. We have in our police reports realism pushed to its extreme limits, and yet the result is, it must be confessed, nether fascinating nor artistic."About two months ago my mother looked up from a news article she was reading and commented about how terrible the news has become. I picked up my kindle and read that passage to her. One hundred years ago, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote that paragraph as Watson spoke to Holmes at the start of a short story. Sensationalism is something that people bring along with them. We are, in general willing spectators to terrible things as long as those terrible things are not happening to us. People are voyeurs.The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - A Case of Identity, Page 1, Paragraph 2
Ripard Teg presented a series of questions in my CSM thread based off of a of blog post that introduces a series he is writing about the Eve community. That particular series is not yet complete and already it has caused a stir among people. Rarely do I wish to comment on a topic where the writer has not yet completed his thoughts. There is too much room for confusion and assumption. However, the topic was brought to my doorstep so to speak and I decided to expand from my thread response.
The start of Ripard’s series is a killmail. That killmail is a high sec gank of an expensive mission running boat. When that gank happened the killmail passed through the channels and I did not raise an eyebrow. It was another expensive mission ship in a string of expensive mission ship losses. I don’t ask “What were they thinking?” It isn’t hard to see what they were thinking. It is a concept of ‘best’ gear. It just happens not to work quite the way people are used to it working in Eve.
But, Ripard commented on the second half of the event. After the gank, the pilot was scammed out of another ship. This is where it went from ‘just another overpriced mission gank’ to a situation that has rapidly reached an emotional, critical mass. People cheered on the scam and booed the victim, requesting that he leave the game. And that mentality sounds horrible and negative. But how it sounds and what it is are two different things.
Between the two events was a conversation. In that conversation the subject of the gank decided to make some nasty words and say some vicious things. I’ve heard many people say that he deserved what he got and that they lost their sympathy for him at that point. When he made IRL threats he violated societal boundaries and the reactions of the watchers changed as well. What some might have disliked became a cheered on ‘comeuppence’. And when that happened the potential negative social consequences of the action vanished for many people. The victim became the villain.
In my forum post Ripard asks:
I'm in the midst of writing a series of blog posts about the changes I've seen over the last few years to EVE's culture. I feel we've become much quicker to embarrass and humiliate each other, much less likely to treat each other with respect, more inclined to see how far we can push another player... see if we can break him... see if we can drive him out of the game or make him snap.
And if successful, we crow "Go back to WoW, you *****!" and we celebrate our "victory."
1) Do you agree?And I respond:
2) If so, why do you think it's happening? If you disagree, why?
3) What, if anything, do you feel CCP should do about it?
1) There is a section of the player base who is quickly disenchanted with players that enter the game with seemingly little desire to learn. I do not believe that they are the entire player base or that the entire player base deserves the absolute “we” in the introduction.
2) I think a lot of it comes from frustration. Many people have been playing this game for ten years. Some become tired of answering the same question over and over again. Not everyone has the temperament to help new players into the game. When the information they do give is rejected or never sought they do not feel pity when the new player stumbles.
However, the simplicity of this question ignores the other segment of the population. The people who go out and actively help new players. The ones who write guides, make videos, do talks, run fleets, run corporations based on teaching, bring in new players to their groups, troubleshoot rookie chat, answer the New Citizens area, sit in help chat, answer on reddit, correct misassumptions on news stories and in general promote and share Eve online as a game.
I believe that this topic is about the vocal minority. The vocal minority, being vocal, cover up the quiet majority. I would think that anyone that has spent time in the community can take a moment to look at all of the positive, healthy aspects of social behavior around them to measure the vocal minority listed in the original question. I refuse to look at one without the other.
3) CCP already has rules in place. Continued enforcement of those rules will go far. I’d like CCP to put some constant energy into improving the methods that a player can acquire a better knowledge about Eve. I believe in combating ignorance with education. It is not reserved for new players. There are older players who have never looked at patch notes after four years of playing.There is a very loud vocal minority in Eve. The discrepancy between how many people play and how many people make noise is quite large. Noise does not have to be bad. I’m defining the noisy as those who take their Eve and sound out about it across the internet. Forums, blogs, reddit, youtube, soundcloud, new articles, all are noises about Eve. But, there is a vocal minority that Ripard brings forward as an ugly culture of Eve. A destructive, vicious culture that consumes and destroys as it passes.
I will not deny that there is ugliness in the game or that there are behaviors that socially, outside of the game would be unacceptable. However, inside of the game these behaviors are acceptable. That does not make them less ugly to me but it does make them less ugly to some. Yet, these ugly behaviors and unacceptable social aspects are only one part of the game. They are one vocal minority that is very very loud.
Even as Ripard discusses this topic and how toxic the culture of Eve is, Eve University celebrates its tenth anniversary. Ten years of a video game corporation that teaches random strangers how to fly internet spaceships in a learning environment. I cannot look at the ugly without looking at the good. They are both there. No matter how ugly the behaviors of some are, I stare at the four hundred people in Eve Uni chat and I see positive qualities that equal the ugly in volume and strength if not in general noise.
In the quote at the start of this post, Watson is reading a newspaper and lamenting the world. That is the same world where we today would say, “Things were better then.” No. Things were the same. Good and bad happened and bad was publicized more than good because negatives gather attention. In a second post Ripard responds to a commenter about, “What has changed?” and he responds, “The intensity level.” I disagree. The intensity level is the same as it has always been. We have simply developed the exact same methods to condense and deliver it to a fevered pitch as we, as humans, have for over a hundred years.
But wouldn’t the world be a better place if we didn’t allow the ugly and instead forced the good? Of course it would. It is also unrealistic. Polite words may temper an argument but they do not end or solve it. Society is a tool that we have developed to get along with each other. Eve is formed of micro societies. Those micro societies all clash with each other and give us a video game. When those micro societies don’t clash we have everyone getting along. In Eve, we complain about that endlessly and tell CCP the game is broken because Sov has turned blue.
Eve’s culture is carved in conflict. It is video game conflict but it is still conflict and conflict does not tend to bring forward the soft and nice. The question becomes how do we stop people from blindly being swept up in the creature that Eve currently is? For me, the solution is a lot about education and creating methods for people to learn if they choose to do so. Education cannot be forced but it must be an attainable option.
Flipping back to the Raven pilot. He made a decision that made sense to him because he has not taken the time to learn about Eve. As a new player, that is understandable. Eve as a game, with its rules for fitting, flying, and power, is abnormal. It has to be learned. When someone picks up a new game they often just start playing it and they will figure it out. Eve happens to kick you in the gut when you do that. I equate the first aspect of the gank with ignorance. Ignorance that could have been solved but ignorance of a new player nonetheless. Many need to lose before they learn and some lose much, much more than others. The Raven pilot then rejected the education. That rejection, in my opinion, is what inflames the attitude. In a game where knowledge must be embraced it was rejected.
The second part of the situation, the scam, is where the moral complexity enters. I, personally, dislike the scam. It does not sit well with me and it is not something that I could personally do. However, as morally against it as I may personally be I would not condemn someone for doing it. It doesn’t mean I have to like it. And, many who cheered, cheered not for the actual scam but for the comeuppance that the player recieved for his tirade of IRL threats and his rejection of knowledge..
“But you can’t change it,” I was told. I disagree a bit. You cannot snap your fingers and make people behave as you want them to behave. Instead, you have to get behind your cause. I have a cause in Eve. I’ve named it the Cult of Reasonable Prices and in it I attempt to convince people to reach their personal achievements through a mutually beneficial system. If Ripard wishes to champion a change in Eve’s culture he will have to get behind his cause as he seems to be doing.
"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward."As for scams, my method to avoid them is to educate against them. I receive a lot of search hits to my blog about scams. People are out there learning about them. People are out there becoming educated about them. Eve’s scam culture is obvious to the initiated but it is a perilous minefield to the uninformed. It is not an intuitive process and sadly, most will only learn that once they have fallen for it.--Vernon Law
“But everyone says that Eve is a cruel, vicious, world.” Yes, they do. Take the time to read most game intros for RPGs. They will all announce what a hard world you are entering with only the clothing on your back and a stick to defend yourselves against wolves. In fifteen minutes you’re beating wolves with one foot while eating a taco over tea. That perception is what people enter with and it makes complete sense that they are startled by the fact that those words are actually real.
“The sandbox!” The sandbox has walls. It always has. What most of us want is those walls to just be the edges. I’d prefer CCP to give us tools. While the players forge an incredibly complex support structure outside of the game, the one inside of the game lags behind. New players have to learn that ‘google it’ is actually the correct answer. There is no manmode in Eve where you don’t go for help guides. The simple concept of ‘the best ship’ is one so slippery that it might as well be sold as a replacement for Teflon. But none of that is clear at the start when people are most susceptible.
The best tool is education. The bad of the culture does not outweigh the good of the culture. People are people and will continue to be people.
P.S. I have never played WoW.