Monday, July 27, 2015

Different Views On Player Communities

Over the weekend, I encountered an article and a recording, both referencing community and player behavior in EVE Online. The article appeared last Thursday on Massively but I didn't see it until Saturday. The subject was how to deal with toxicity in MMO communities.

Hmm. A Massively article on toxicity in a player base usually means shots fired in the direction of CCP and EVE players and the usual suspects did not disappoint. The first poke came, perhaps unsurprisingly, from Editor-And-Chief Brianna Royce:
"In the meantime, I’d like to see MMO studios work on prevention. Some games actively seek miscreants as their core constituency, and once your community has been tainted by or overrun by toxic players, it’s almost too late to salvage it."
Next up came Eliot Lefebvre, who offered this conclusion:
"A lot also depends on how a game’s community is moderated, just the same. EVE Online has a contentious and nasty environment not just because of the mechanics that encourage self-serving competition but also because the studio behind the game actively encourages players to be cutthroat and rewards members of the community who do so. The punishments given to offending players tell players what the designers want the game to be, so it falls on the side of the studio to determine what sort of environment they ultimately want to encourage."
If anyone detects a note of "Grr Goons!", I do too. The feeling flows both ways, and the Goon's disdain for Massively helped spark the creation of But I won't delve into old news as I am more interested in the topic of game communities.

If Royce and Lefebvre believe the tone of player communities is set from the top down, those on the recording I listened to Saturday night believe in the power of players to create communities from the bottom up. That's right, the leadership of the Eve-Scout Enclave answered questions about how to apply the credo of the Signal Cartel to various situations. For those unfamiliar with the Signal Cartel Credo:
"Signal Cartel is a service corporation to all of New Eden. In this role, members are encouraged to treat all players with respect regardless of affiliation. In challenging situations, our goal is to look for a graceful resolution and set an example of dignity and friendship through our actions.

"We embrace the attitude of a true explorer: we are friendly to others in our travels, neutral and never initiating aggression, and endeavoring at all times be perceived by the New Eden community as a non-threat. Although we never intentionally seek to harm, we may defend our friends and our ships. In suffering losses, we respond with good cheer and shed no tears. In this way, we aim to be recognized and respected by all across the cluster and left in peace to do our work.

"Among our own ranks and with others, we are patient and generous with knowledge, ideas, and experiences. We foster a mentoring culture by answering questions, freely sharing experiences and learning resources, and when possible offering rookies one-on-one tutoring.

"Specifically prohibited with your in-alliance character: Piracy, baiting, scamming, initiating PvP, and baiting or tricking others to lose assets. Member kill logs will be actively monitored and kills investigated."
A very non-EVE statement, right? Or is it? EVE is all about accomplishing self-imposed goals, both at the individual and organizational level. The leadership of Signal Cartel believes that the behavior of its members, and not force of arms, is the optimal way to achieve those goals. The fact that such behavior often flies in the face of normal behavior in EVE makes any success that much sweeter.

While the credo is a pretty radical position to take in New Eden, the idea of showing respect and kindness to others isn't as rare as people like Royce and Lefebvre believe. Of course, sometimes that respect is punctuated by explosions, but that is just a part of how the community works.

For those interested in learning more about Signal Cartel and the credo, the recording below answers the following questions:
  • Is consensual PvP permitted using the Duel mechanic?
  • Can we shoot abandoned things? (e.g. Bubbles, Depots, MTUs, Ships,)
  • Is taking loot from SovNull or occupied wormholes an act of aggression and against the Credo?
  • What if my actions disproportionately benefit one side of a conflict? (e.g. providing scouting Info)
  • Is contesting a site considered aggression?
  • Can I participate in Live Events? What about NPSI public roams?

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