In Defense of the Dark Side

“Let’s have a toast for the douchebags,
Let’s have a toast for the assholes,
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags,
Every one of them that I know”

 

Yesterday, I posted a guide I’d been tweaking for quite awhile on exploiting social dynamics and mechanisms to insert yourself into a group in Eve. Though I made note that the guide could be used for basically any recruitment purposes, I did add a large caveat that it was of course more than slightly slanted towards nefarious intentions; this is merely a product of who I am and who I’ve always been in Eve, which is to say, a thief, a spy, an assassin, and generally a sneaky ne’er-do-well.

In response to my twitter blast about the new guide, Kuda Timberline (@KudaTimberline) had the following to say:

I did end up responding a bit on twitter, but as I said to Kuda, a serious question deserves a serious answer, and those have ways of going over 140 character limits. Instead, I’d like to take a moment to respond to Kuda in full here on this blog (as a side note for those confused at the above, I’d initially quickly read and interpreted Kuda’s question as “do you think this sort of behavior is bad for the game”, hence my “no” response.)

Before I begin though, I’d like to lay down that I actually have a lot of respect for Kuda, and this is merely a defense of my opinion of things. Kuda isn’t wrong about anything he said to me on twitter, we merely have opposing viewpoints on the issue, which is a good thing. Opposing viewpoints by two rational and well spoken individuals sparks healthy debate, which again, is a good thing! And so, because I felt his honest and erstwhile question deserved an equally honest answer: my response.

As I said to Kuda during our brief twitter banter, the short answer is “No, I don’t think this sort of behavior and blogging about it is bad for the game”; quite the contrary, I think it inspires healthy balance.

As I’ve said before on this blog, the character I play in Eve is just that, a character. This has been echoed by others, including The Mittani, when charged with being a “murdering evil psychopath in real life” based on their exploits in a video game. The truth of it is though, even if we profess to not be “silly roleplayers”, we’re all playing a role to a certain extent. In the real world, strange as it may sound, I don’t actually mug and assault random strangers at their jobs, steal their cars, extort money from them, and then murder them in front of their family and co-workers. Likewise, I’ve never been a part of a pyramid scheme (unless you count helping a friends daughter sell girl-scout cookies; that shit is a racket), or applied to a job with the intention of blowing everyone away at the first project meeting.

Incidentally, some of the most ruthless shitbags I’ve ever known in this game are amazingly nice people out of it: EMT’s, elementary school teachers, doctors, policemen, servicemen, a battered women’s home director, and even a guy who helps start NGO’s that create food banks for war orphans in the Middle East. I won’t tell you who they are, but it would probably make your head spin to know what some of the biggest, cockiest, and more famous scumbags in internet spaceships are capable of out in the real world.

Thus, in a way, even if we aren’t spending our days chatting in Amarrian scripture, decrying the lewd ways of the Gallente, or excluding pilots from our fleet and coms because they’re flying Caldari, we’re all “role-playing” to a certain degree; some of us just happen to play “the bad guy”.

We also all play “our game” in the manner in which we want to; if you aren’t, you’re doing something very wrong and should probably re-evaluate why you’re paying to play this game. The beauty of Eve comes from the sheer size and scope of it; to some, “playing” Eve means blowing through missions faster or wracking up isk to pimp their Golem a bit more, to others its streamlining their production lines or cornering that niche market in Jita. To me, playing Eve is outsmarting and out-thinking worthy (and a lot of the time, unworthy) opponents; that’s where I get my thrill.

In my response to Kuda on twitter, I made mention that trickery and deceit are “another facet to pvp”; Kuda called me out on this:

I’m in no way saying that awoxing is “real pvp” in the sense of the “PvP”, “honor fights”, or even “gud fites” as most might define it, but I am saying its another very legitimate facet of a “player versus player” interaction; call it akin to culling the low-hanging fruit. In war, a smart force will go after their enemies’ supply lines and their factories; the soft targets which are usually less effort for a more maximum damaging effect. To a certain degree, when I’ve targeted a new corp to scam or awox, I’m declaring war on them; they just don’t know it. Scamming them hits them in their wallets and has a way of obliterating morale, and going after corp Orcas and mining barges is equally low effort for maximum damage.

In the above, Kuda makes note that awoxing uses “game mechanics to make sure your victims are defenseless”, to which I say, “of course!” Using game mechanics to your advantage isn’t dirty, cheap, or underhanded, its intelligent. To me, it holds little difference to say, a nullsec gang using scouts, bubbles, and gates to split-up and disorganize an enemy gang before attacking, to assure maximum offense against minimal defense. When we use the same basic principal of “outsmart and outwit your enemy” in the context of corp infiltration and attacking from within, it gets labeled “underhanded” or “disgraceful”, because it hits close to home at the very basic core concept of Eve: trust.

In order to even undock, we need to have at least a modicum of trust that those we fly with have our back, or at the very least, aren’t aiming for it. The reason awoxing/safariing gets people riled up is because it introduces MAJOR doubt to the idea that a corp is a family, and family protects its own. The problem is, most people in Eve equate “joining  a corp” with “joining a family”; typically the second you hit “accept” and pop up in corp chat, suspicion drops and trust skyrockets. It is implied that you are now “one of them”, even if no one there has talked to you longer than 5 minutes, has no idea who you are or really what you do besides what you’ve briefly mentioned in said 5 minute conversation, or what your intentions are. That’s where the breakdown happens; “implied trust”.

No repercussions for corp-on-corp violence exists; its a thing, and its one more facet of Eve that gives it its darker edge and cutthroat image. If you bring someone into your corp to fly with you, the possibility exits that they could be wolf and sheep’s clothing, with intentions to stab you in the back. Luckily, guarding against this scenario takes the most minute amount of effort on corps’ parts, such as not accepting random blank applications to corp from strangers during a mining operation for instance.

At the end of the day, we all need to have some sort of trust, which is why even scumbags like awoxers, scammers, and thieves have their own code of conduct; to do any of these things knowingly to a fellow “bad guy” is considered taboo, and grounds for ostracization as a pariah. Because even we need to have some sort backbone of social currency, for without it, the whole thing becomes a boring, paranoid, single player game.

Many thanks to Kuda for bringing this up yesterday, it made for a fun post to think about.

-Aiden

 

Fake edit: after writing this, I realized I wrote a fairly similar post (“The Way You Are Playing Is a Reflection On How You Really Live Your Life“) about this same subject almost exactly 2 years ago! Funny how this discussion continues!

 

p.s. I promise, that is the one and only time a Kanye West quote will ever appear on this blog.

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~ by Aiden Mourn on June 27, 2013.

7 Responses to “In Defense of the Dark Side”

  1. Thanks for keeping the conversation going. Good points all around.

    Cheers
    Kuda

  2. Thanks for keeping the conversation going! Good points all around, it is just a game and thanks for sharing the way you “play” it.

    That said…

    NEVER QUOTE KANYE! Hahaha

  3. “Playing” the evil guy, being destructive etc etc in a game is perfectly ok.
    BUT there is a borderline. When actually talking to a person, socialising so to speak, are you really still “playing”? A conversation is regarded OOC by most.
    So no, many of your actions are not “ok” or hilarious any more.
    Ninja Salvaging and killing aggressors was. As long as you don’t lure them into a trap with OOC conversations.
    But weasling into corps to inflict maximum harm is not. In my book. Sorry.

    • But isn’t that back to the point Norbert, on why he did this conversation. He wasn’t saying its moral to use the game mechanics in this way.

      But Rather the concept of using game mechanics to its fullest extent, with the distinct separation form in game morals and out of game morals.

      And the part on if its hilarious or not, that i think comes down to what side of the fence you fall on and if you have pleased to loot gods enough to grant you a good target.

  4. Sport, can I challenge you on giving a pass to the The Mittani? Just review his recommendation for voting in CSM 8. There was no; we need a strong influence in CSM 8 to address the preceived imbalance of Null-sec Industry or we should have a people talking to CCP about the staleness of Sov-Warring. Instead – all he asked the rank and file, we need goon bums on CSM seats piss off players in hi-sec. I don’t see anything here which generates content for players do you?

    To me, this has ceased to be an “evil persona” within a video game – this is real life petty spite.

    • So he willingly exerted influence to monkey with the setup and composition of an elective body that makes decisions about game play and balance within Eve Online?

      …sure sounds an awful lot like we’re talking about internet spaceships bud. Its playing the meta game to the extreme perhaps, but the CSM is very much internet spaceships, not real life (although I might have a slightly different view if they were payed).

  5. Awoxing is like stealing candy from a baby.

    Awox the awoxers then you are playing it right, oh wait I forgot that is against the ‘rules’ like there were such things in your book… 😛

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