Red Frog LogoRed Frog Freight, a peaceful and profitable hauling corporation (I’ve used them myself) in EVE Online got taken for 45 billion ISK. Player response to the incident has been more thought provoking than the incident itself.

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The ISK lost is secondary to me, what I really hate losing is friends, or people I perceive to be friends. White Frog Insurance is backed by the directors that created it, so none of our pilots will suffer any loss because of this betrayal.

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Online interactions always leave us with something or nothing. In a world like EVE, how do you begin to build something precious (such as a corporation) knowing that you can trust no one? While no one wants to lose characters and billions of ISK, losing a friendship fostered over a long period of time (we’re talking years) can leave a bitter taste in our real mouths. I can’t help but think this also eats at ones desire to play the game. EVE is a lawless place, no doubt. But how many deep betrayals can a player take before all the work required to be successful in EVE seems pointless and not worth it? We’re talking heartache.

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We, gamers, are usually hesitant to admit that feelings that arise from the game are just as real on the human side of the monitor. Players are great at creating this dissonance so that events in a game don’t harm us in the real world. I know I’ve done it. That’s how I know the futility of it. All I end up doing is suppressing the feelings, trying to put them out of my mind and be nonchalant, consoling myself that “it’s just a game, really …get over it.” If only it were true.

I am all for being a total a-hole in eve. But suicide (biomass) and sale of character to avoid the consequences is weak. I think villains should play out the consequences as part of the fun.

This poignantly raises the real question about FFA virtual -worlds: if playing EVE Online and participating in all these high profile schemes and crimes is so awesome and fun …then why does no one stick around for the fall out? It’s all about doing the crime, cashing out, and distancing oneself from the consequences. Vile or villain. It’s true that part of the “game” aspect must be the getaway, but there’s a vast difference between a getaway and a cheap trick. Where are the criminal showdowns? The rub-it-in-your-face heists where the antagonists flaunt it and refuse to back down? Those kinds of villains are rare indeed; most villains aren’t villains. They’re part-time crooks looking for a quick come-up and an easy way out. They’re vile.

Burning an account is a valid option. Once you commit such a crime under a certain name, it will be harder to pull it again under the same. But isn’t that the role of a real villain? Always behind the curtain? No one ever knows they’ve been gotten by Smooth Criminal until he’s already struck? This type of villain possibly doesn’t even exist in EVE. Once a crime is announced, it’s unlikely that the criminal will ever do it again under the same name. EVE is a space for powerful militaries, small-time pirates, and unambitious crooks. The big schemers are rare …but fascinating as hell when they strike.

The reason we see the vile so often, looking for little more than to have their names announced very loudly or even to establish a legacy by ripping off something famous …is simple.

I love how people want to get famous without actually being good at anything.

It’s hard work to be good. It’s really hard work to be a schemer worth the ink to write an article about. It takes some understanding of the game, of the major players in it, and an ambitious vision of an big win. This is a list of ambitious scheme for the books. EVE players will make their own judgement of where this one ranks.

Befriending people, gaining their trust and then one day (unplanned from the beginning) stabbing them in the back. This isn’t clever and doesn’t deserve respect, it reminds me of Christian televangelists. This game and online gaming attracts the worst type of people. Gamers deserve to be fat, smelly, lonely and unemployed. I have met the most vile people since my addiction to online gaming started years ago and I think its time to stop and go outside.

Are we better off for the relations we make in games? Whether we treat others as mere pixels or chose to recognize that they are people, the impact of having met them is real. Feelings of trust in a game remain with us when we log out. Consequences often do as well. We might tell ourselves we robbed some unsuspecting corps, but we’ll also remember fondly the conversations with those players and the adventures too. Betrayal, in the virtual and the real world, stays with us. It’s never just a game.

We’re all going to be either a little warmer or a little colder for the relationships we build in the virtual world.

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