Friday, June 8, 2012

Freedom Of Expression

"Eve is real" is frequently not just a CCP marketing slogan, it is a description of Eve Online's metagame.  When discussing the metagame the conversation frequently winds its way to The Mittani and the Goons.  The latest Goon antics involves efforts to silence their high-sec based critics.  A month ago The Mittani announced the creation of the Ministry of Love.
"There has been a tremendous level of interest in the Ministry of Love, and justifiably so; most of us have thought that it would be cool to be a ~bounty hunter~ or ~assassin~ in an online game, but no game company has ever pulled it off successfully. EVE itself is absolutely shit for bounty hunting, but Goonswarm is determined to make it work by setting up our own organization and funding it.
"The Ministry’s methods are currently in flux, though several unpersons have already been brought to Room 101. Like with Burn Jita, the practice of ‘how this shit works’ has to be evolved; once that focus is achieved we’ll purge ЅIG members who do not participate and lavish isk on those who show true devotion to Big Brother.
"I am particularly interested in recruiting our best scammers for some directed and creative operations. These will be an order of magnitude of difficulty beyond an “any mark will do” recruitment scam. We cannot risk spooking an unperson by letting any goon try their hand at scamming them, which means that the Ministry will need to hand-pick the best of the best. If you think you’re the best of the best – and a record of success in Top Goon or Letters of Marque, contact Powers Sa on jabber and he’ll vet you."
Is it any surprise that the former head of the Goonswarm Intelligence Agency would create a covert operations group to track down the Goons critics?  But The Mittani's strategy also contains a conventional military component in engaging in high-sec warfare against his targets.  While this strategy would have no effect on players in low and null security space, the thinking is that normally risk-adverse high sec players are susceptible to pressure and will shut up rather than subject themselves to Goon harassment.

Indeed, the knowledge that one's words as well as actions mattered in New Eden and that the world extended beyond the computer monitor led me to seriously consider not mentioning my characters on The Nosy Gamer and perhaps not even blog about the game.   But after a couple of months I decided that I'd accept any negative consequences my words might bring me.

The incident that inspired today's post was Goonswarm Federation war-deccing Mabrick Mining and Manufacturing.  MABMM is the personal corporation of run by Mabrick of Mabrick's Mumblings.  Mabrick's crime was to write a post comparing The Mittani to his namesake Mitanni of ancient Syria and Anatolia.  The conclusion was not flattering and probably resulted in the war-dec just hours after the post's publication.  A comment in the the post announcing the war-dec by Ardent Defender caught my attention.
"This could be a disturbing trend in the community and as it relates to the game. This takes Metagaming to a whole new level as well. By daring to speak your mind and thoughts on your own blog the one place where you supposed to have sanctuary to write and speak your thoughts the result is that you get War Dec by the biggest alliance in the game. That's very disturbing!" [emphasis mine]
Perhaps I spent too much time in the political blogosphere because while I sympathize with the thought, I don't see a blog as a nice safe happy place in the real world.  I think of blogging like Eve players think of PvP; taking incoming fire is a fact of life.  Ask Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah who was detained following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.  Or how about bloggers Saeed Malekpour and Vahid Asghari who were sentenced to death for speaking out against the Iranian regime?  Currently here in the U.S. there is the case of those who blog about Brett Kimberlin, a man known as the Speedway Bomber convicted of setting off 8 bombs in Speedway, Indiana in a six-day period in 1978.  Bloggers are being SWAT-ted, a practice in which police are contacted via VOIP software that a murder or shooting has occurred at a home.  The police response is very unsettling, and potentially dangerous, for those targeted for the harassment.  Bloggers are fighting back today with a day of silence to publicize the situation.

These type of real-world tactics are part of the reason I'm glad to have left the world of political blogging behind.  Having your pixels in a computer game targeted for destruction is trivial compared to what happens in the real world.  And if "Eve is Real", then all sorts of actions, from confidence games and ponzi schemes to, yes, the powerful attempting to silence critics through in-game actions is expected.  I confine my potential conflicts to blogging about botters and RMTers because those are the battles I find worth fighting.  Other bloggers need to make that determination on their own because "Eve is Real" and words have consequences, whether typed in local or on a blog.


  1. No matter how you slice it, the whole thing comes up morally vaccuous.

    At root, it's a game that is being taken way too seriously by an EXTREMIST group...and in e-life or RL, that's a lethal imbalance. Historically, and currently, no matter what the circumstance.

    CCP is slowly discovering the business-killing nature of this scheme. It's just a matter if anyone who has left the game so far has the stomach to ever come back.

    I don't. My money for 'entertainment' is better spent elsewhere and not on an electronic mirror of this world, down to the Nazi Assholes.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. *Fixed my tiping*
      It is not a business-killing compromise. And I also have to disagree with your 'root vision':

      1st: EVE Online is not a game, its a virtual environment through which thousands of people across the world relate to each other.

      2nd: EVE has not been built on the average pc gamer, hence its small player-base compared to other MMOs. EVE is now an online community (with deep offline connections between its members) of the most hardcore pc gamers in the world. Those who leave and do not come back are a small part of CCP's business whereas the entire product is based on this harcore community that fears no metagame and has singed up to play EVE exactly because of its extreme nature.

      3rd: I don't disagree with you that CCP may be thinking exactly what you said they are thinking.

      I am part of that group of players, and to shed light on the nature of CCP's customers, here is something I wrote:

  2. I support what you say 100%. I knew what I was doing. I knew what the potential results could be. I said it anyway because I felt it was something interesting that my readers would "enjoy." If hit numbers are any indication, they have. Besides, how could any carebear blogger NOT blog about the hottest topic in the Eve meta-game? I am a blogger after all! And what's more, I think even the Goons enjoy it after a fashion. It gives them an opportunity to be Goons - not that they really need an opportunity to be Goons... that's more a condition than an action I think. Thanks for the interesting read; I enjoyed it!

    1. Mabrick was wardecced because a goon paid a director to wardec him. This has nothing to do with his recent blog, and everything to do with past hulkageddon posts. This makes it easier to gank him without suiciding ships. I saw it happen in a jabber channel.

      Goons are just creating content for each other by shooting at people who make noise. They like to see results from the shooting. Blog posts are tangible.

      If you stopped blogging about them, they probably would get bored with you immediately.

      Again you are equating real life murders to a video game. If you complain about goons shooting you, they will shoot more pixels at you. Just read this:

  3. This is not real world, so the Gandhi approach will not work for you, Mabrick. Hire some mercs or offer to share wardec with some pirates(PvPiers), they will be happy to hunt down some Goonbears for you. Fighting back is not futile, because this is still a game and you can make alts for anything you want. If Goons make alts to burn Jita, you can make alts to do your own thing as well. Let them chase shadows, while you hide behind alts and keep on blogging away about whatever you want, be it EvE or Mitten's "chin pussy".

  4. To 'anonymous' above here:

    No matter how many f-ing alts I make to put up another POS, my 50,000,000 SP Main will never be able to use it.

    Also, read your first 5 words over and over again real careful.

    1. Krixtal, you need to relax, and take time off of this game.

  5. @James:
    Sell your 50000000 sp main, buy another one with the ISK you get for it. Or convert it into cash and get yourself something more substantial.
    I should re-iterate: Eve is not real. Those who are hunting you, doing it because you believe they can, not because they really can stop you as a real person from playing the way you want.

  6. If the Goons keep harassing you over out-of-game issues, then I believe you have a case for harassment / grief play. I don't like to resort to those kinds of things, but I think it may apply here. There's in-game reasons for blowing people up - a lot of them - and then there's just being a douchebag. The Goons cross the line into the land of douchebaggery far too often. Mental midgets with fragile egos. Pathetic.

    You may even be able to get a name change out of it. But, as mentioned above, perhaps selling your character and buying another is a good last resort.

  7. This whole deal makes me hesitant to give EVE another try. Labeling people as "unpersons" because you don't like their play style seems to be taking things a bit far.

  8. There are things you can do. Get out of high sec and into null out of reach of the goon influence. Better yet, join a WH corp. Make it as difficult as possible for them to find you and disrupt your game.

    Still enjoying the game while under their embargo is the best form of revenge you can have. That or learn station trading. Get a hauler alt and do science and/or industry. All the while frustrating them because you don't need to leave station.

    They're not invincible and they're sure as hell not omnipotent. And if every one of their targets does the same thing? They're spending lots of good iskies for no good reason. Frustrated goon = best goon.

  9. Wow, Kimberlin's made the gaming blogs.
    Hopefully he doesn't play eve, or we'll have CONCORD kicking in the doors...