"EVE Online sits on the frontier of social gaming, providing an entertainment environment like no other. The vibrant society of interacting and conflicting communities, both within the EVE client and without, is the driving force behind EVE's success. However, the anonymity of internet culture combined with a competitive gaming environment encourages in-game behaviour to spread beyond the confines of the sandbox. Where is the line?"
Eve Online is fairly unique in the online gaming world. Whilst scams, cons and the like are banned and actively prevented in many MMOG's, they are not in Eve Online. CCP Games like their "It is a sandbox so HTFU attitude" and present New Eden as a cold, dark and rather nasty game world. But where is this line Stan speaks of? First off lets look at some of the people who inhabit our game world.
Last night I went to Jita and local chat was scrolling fast. Unbelievable good offers are flying for everything from minerals at a fraction of the market price to pilots licence extensions for only 385m rather than the 480m on the market. However, a quick glance at these "fantastic offers" soon show otherwise. The 350,000 units of mineral is actually 35,000. The PLEX for 385m actually is an exchange contract for one PLEX their side and 385m ISK PLUS one PLEX from you. It would appear that "scammers gonna to scam".
So scamming an anonymous individual is one thing. But what about the next level? Corp thefts?
As a Director of my corp I have access to the wallet and the hangers. I've just done a little look around, and there are multiple billions of ISK in the wallet. The corporate hangers are full of juicy ships, modules and ammo. With a few clicks and a few drags I think I could have 20 times my current ISK within a minute. That's a lot of cash for the taking.
But would I ever think of doing that? Never. That would be a crappy thing to do to mates who I've violenced internet spaceships with (and in some cases got exceedingly drunk with out on the town) for several years. But it happens all the time. I was in UPCHAT (the public channel for the booster producers Uppers n Downers) a few months ago and there was a random guy in there who was a bit fed up. Apparently his CEO had just raided the corp and took ISK and assets of around 180bn ISK. The only thing he didn't take was a Drake BPO that was being used at the time, other than that he striped the corp bare. A number of our own corp members come from a now closed corp whose CEO had a big plan. They needed ISK so they collectively grinded the billions and billions for it. Apparently it was a TITANic amount of ISK required, and, allegedly in the end, the CEO made off with most of it.
These are not isolated incidents. We hear about these all the time within Eve. Why? Because they are, in some way encouraged, and there is rarely any consequence. If there was too much heat, transfer the goods to an alt and delete the "naughty" character. The ultimate clean get away! But even with this, why do normal people behave this way? Would they do this in real life?
Does good old Gabe's Greater Internet Dickwad Theory explain it?
"Oh I'm not really an asshat in real life, I just play an asshat in-game". Really? Are you REALLY sure about that?
So we attract, nurture and encourage asshattery. Should we be shocked that there is a small minority of players who take things further than just in-game? Is anyone really surprised when we hear of DDOS attacks on voice comms/forums/websites, OOG personal attacks/insults in social media like Facebook and, generally, the sand spilling over the sandbox and getting everywhere?
The banter question asked "Where is the line?".
To be honest. I think the line that the majority of people would draw in the sand has been obliterated by the number of people crossing it. Surely, even if you are not a roleplayer, you should make the distinction between in-game and out-of-game?
My line in the sand is there - at the IG/OOG interface. Others might want to pull it back to some form of Blizzard-esq "Why cannot we all play nicely?". Others will move it the other way so its out of the sand all the way past the beach and under a bush into some tropical tundra so far in the distance we cannot even see the line anymore.