Friday, May 25, 2012

Ganking Is Such An Ugly Term

Ganked: 2) To be killed without mercy on a MMORPG for the sport of it; 5) To be killed by someone or someones where there is no chance to win; 6) to be killed PvP in an MMORPG when you weren't looking for a fight.

Asymmetric warfare: War between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly.

In the sandbox known as Eve Online a tension exists between a subset of carebear who believes that high security space should mean complete safety from attack by other players and those who believe that they should have the ability to kill other players without interference anyplace in New Eden and that CONCORD is an abomination.  In a design decision, CCP made the NPC police organization CONCORD provide a level of protection that deters casual violence in high security space but still allows motivated players to conduct attacks if they are willing to pay a price.  While satisfying to the vast majority of players, that subset of carebears still takes every opportunity to cry out to CCP to make their little corner of the galaxy completely safe.  I believe that two terms symbolize this ideological conflict: ganking and asymmetrical warfare. 

Ganking, while having real world meaning, is a gaming term.  World of Warcraft has set many standards in the MMORPG genre, including attitudes about what is acceptable in player vs. player combat.  This advice on WoWWiki sums up that attitude nicely:
"Please consider the following before you decide to be a ganker. Gankers are extremely unpopular in World of Warcraft and MMO's in general. While you may enjoy ganking, you should always bear in mind your enjoyment comes at the expense of the other player, and should consider carefully if you wish to ruin another persons game time."
Of course, Eve is different from most other MMOs because the whole objective of the game is to accumulate wealth and/or power, usually at the expense of other players.  The term "go back to WoW" is often thrown in the faces of this subset of the carebear for just this reason.  But, the counter-argument goes, how does suicide ganking a Hulk or Mackinaw in high security space help achieve wealth or power for a player?  If it doesn't, these carebears argue, then suicide ganking is just griefing and CCP should end the ability to engage in the practice, thus making high security space completely safe.

I counter that argument with the term asymmetrical warfare.  Ideally, MMORPGs are also virtual worlds and real world concepts are applicable, even if imperfectly.  For example, take the case of a PvP oriented corporation that declares war on a high security space based carebear corp.  A common asymmetrical response to the war dec is for most of the members of the carebear corp to leave their corp and flee to the safety of an NPC corporation.  When this occurs, the PvP corporation goes from a position of military superiority to one of immense military inferiority as the war targets are now under the direct protection of CONCORD, the supreme military force in high security space.  The aggressor corporation now has the option of suspending operations or continuing the war through asymmetrical means of their own.  The only way to physically strike at the war targets is through the tactic of the suicide gank.

The reality is that every player organization in Eve is militarily outclassed by CONCORD in high security space.  Even Goonswarm Federation and the CFC.  The Mittani, leader of Goonswarm and the CFC, for economic and, perhaps more importantly, social cohesion reasons has basically declared war on the empires and the "pubbies" that reside in high security space.  Some efforts, like the creation of the Organization of Technetium Exporting Corporations, are purely economic and diplomatic matters.  But other efforts, like the Gallente Ice Interdiction, Burn Jita and the backing of Helicity Bosun's month-long event Hulkageddon V required going into Empire and killing players in high security space.  Since not even the Goons had the resources to declare war on all the entities involved (not including those targets in NPC corporations immune to war decs), The Mittani was forced to use asymmetric warfare.  Or, in other words, commit mass waves of suicide ganking.

From my view sitting on a not-so comfortable sofa in a high security station, I believe that CCP sees Eve Online not as just a game but as a virtual world, one that can support multiple games.  Looking at Eve as a traditional game and considering ganking as griefing would remove some of the uniqueness of that virtual world.  Also, that would mean that Eve is just a game.  And as we all know, internet spaceships is serious business.


  1. An excellent post that has clarified and made coherent some of my own thoughts on the subject.

  2. I think you've summed it up in a very black-and-white manner; there are shades of grey between "No PVP!" and "No CONCORD!" which I think is where a lot of players really fall. Personally I'm fine with the existence of ganking, I just feel that as it stands exhumers are disproportionately weak - among other things if you have an alt/friend to scoop and salvage the exhumer wreck, ganking one with a few destroyers is actually profitable.

    1. I think the "shades of gray" are getting darker and lighter with each of these "events", and as Corelin pointed out, a lot of this polarization is coming from CCP themselves and their designs. :-/

    2. He does say these people are a subset of Eve players.
      About the exhumers, I agree with you that, at the moment, they don't fit their in-game description and are overdue for a tuning.

    3. Actually, I think that those who wish to have high-sec be 100% safe is a small percentage of carebears. I consider myself a carebear and I think a little danger is a good thing.

    4. I've said a number of times now to several different people that barges, exhumers, and Indy ships need a buff to structure HP. Fit a DCU and voila, real carebears hull-tank! lol

  3. I never understood that 'carebear' point of view that you're referring to in your post. When I first started I was 100% industry and now split that between PVP. What value do people place on their isk and assets? If no risk is involved in obtaining them, then what's the point? The fact that I can mine, manufacture then sell items despite the challenges and obstacles made by those that gank, make those activities (games) worthwhile. The stories in the main line media (like guiding hand social club)brought me to this game and it's the cutthroat nature that keeps me here.

    For Eve's future many worry about CCP going back to that out of touch mode of thinking that brought us the summer of rage. For me I fear people like those you mention actually getting influence and destroying its heart.