I told myself I wasn’t going to get involved in this one. I told myself it was getting all the attention it needed. I told myself it was another blogger’s threadnaught and he should reap the “rewards” for it. I think I lied to myself.
I’m talking about Jester’s can of worms he opened up over an EVE Online player going by the handle Erotica 1 of course. Erotica 1 did a horrible, horrible thing to another human being and Jester used it to make a point. I’ll have more on that at the end. Now, this post isn’t just about EVE Online. This post is about unacceptable behavior anytime, any place, anywhere by anybody. As you read, you’ll see mostly references to the current EVE Online kerfuffle, but that’s only because it is convenient. Make no mistake, I mean this for ANYONE who interacts with other people in an online game – and that means everyone reading this.
I’ve avoided the thread-naught over on the official EVE Online forums because I already have a position on this issue. I’ve written about it more than occasionally. I’ll summarize my position for you so you don’t have to go hunt down those posts. Abusing other people for “sport” is wrong. Period. I live by the golden rule: treat others as you expect them to treat you. No one wants to be abused by another, so abusing another is wrong. I don’t care if you are playing a game, or working a job, or just walking down the street. It is wrong to abuse another being for your own enjoyment.
As a society, we have some fairly obvious rules concerning abuse. We have ledger after ledger filled with laws that spell it out for us. Particularly heinous abuse can get a person sentenced to death in many countries of the world including my own. In others, the offense doesn’t even have to be heinous, just counter to the controlling culture. And there are score upon score of lesser punishments meted out to those who violate the cultural norms of the society they live in. This is how human society has always been. The Bible and the code Hammurabi made show us how old such cultural control is. And I guarantee you its use extends much farther into the past than those notable tomes indicate. Society would not function without such rules.
So here we are part of a subculture (gamers) within a larger culture. All of us know what the rules are for our parent culture. And what Jester described most certainly crosses the line in most, if not all, of our cultures. That is in general agreement. What Erotica 1 did was wrong. Period.
But the discussion here isn’t about whether it was wrong or not. The discussion is about what we as a sub-culture should do about it, if anything. And people’s responses have run the gamut of human reaction to such things. Here is a bit of what I’ve read paraphrased.
- It happened outside the subculture so there is nothing we can do.
- It’s up to the victim to pursue remediation.
- There was no abuse because he could have “hung up” at any time.
- CCP has to ban Erotica 1.
- Erotica 1 did nothing against the EULA or TOS so CCP should do nothing.
- The police should investigate.
- This isn’t my problem.
- You’re just giving the bad person free publicity and you are wrong for having brought this up.
There are more, but that should do. Are any of these responses correct? Are any of them flat wrong? It doesn’t matter. You are missing the point. We are a community; a culture unto our own. We have to make a decision. Do we allow the sort of abuse Erotica 1 perpetrated with his cronies or do we not support it? If we don’t support it, what are we going to do about it? If we are going to do something about it, what can we do? Who should do it?
Since the majority of our subculture feels what happened is wrong, the logical next step is to figure out how our community is going to prevent something like this from happening again. It isn’t a question of punishing Erotica 1. It’s a question of whether or not we can take steps to discourage such wrongness in the future, and should it happen anyway what sort of punishment we should then give out. Punishment is a deterrent. It’s an ages old method of encouraging people within a society to act according to societal norms. It is a cause and affect mechanism. You can’t punish someone after the fact if you haven’t clearly defined what wrong behavior is. So Erotica 1 probably gets a pass on this one.
But punishment for future transgressions needs to happen. It must happen. As the Internet age progresses, and more and more people interact over vast distances where they will never have to face one another in real person, we have to create a code of conduct that ensures everyone in our society is safe from the other members of our society. This is what it means to be a human society. And to be certain, this is something the world society has a whole must come to terms with. And CCP is not exempt from having to do their fair share in developing these rules of conduct.
You can make all the technical distinctions you want about it not being in CCP’s purview to do anything about it. You can steadfastly believe no gaming company should have to do anything about interpersonal issues like abusing another player. But that’s like saying a city mayor has no role in enforcing the laws of the society in general. Regardless of what the legalese in the EVE Online EULA or TOS says, there is a basic level of human decency that must be recognized in all this. CCP may not be compelled to act, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t act. We’ve had discussions before about how it hurts CCP’s brand for these sorts of stories to circulate. They DO have a vested interest in addressing this. And what’s more, I believe they have a legal obligation to act.
Any company that invites the community at large to enjoy the services they offer has an implicit obligation to ensure the safety of those they invite. Society at large has decreed that theaters must have fire exits. Why? Because they have an obligation to keep safe those who come into the theater to watch movies. Food manufactures are required to keep their processing lines free of salmonella bacteria. Why? Because they have an obligation to keep consumers who buy their products free of illness from eating them. So it is that CCP has a a similar obligation to their customers, us, the gaming subculture – even if that means they must keep us safe from each other. They may not like that responsibility, but it is there nonetheless.
And since Erotica 1 used EVE Online to launch his abuse, CCP has more than a little responsibility to try and ensure that does not happen again. That responsibility may be as little as posting in large pulsating letters, “DON’T DO THIS OR YOU MAY BE SORRY” at login. It may need to be part of new player training. But be assured, they must do their due diligence in this. I personally feel they have not done enough to protect their customers from the predatory behavior of other customers. And CCP has it even more difficult than most gaming companies because their game promotes such behavior as part of the game play. That certainly makes it more difficult to do the due diligence, but they must do it anyway.
And guess what friends, so do we all. Especially we who write and speak for the community. It was blatantly stated by @gamerchick42 that Jester was wrong to give Erotica 1 so much attention. And since you won’t allow comments, I’ll make the comment here. No he wasn’t. As spokesman for the community, it was his OBLIGATION to bring it up. One member of our little society committed a horrible abuse on another, and our little society has no way of handling it, or stopping it, or containing it. We cannot keep our own members safe, and we should. We need to or our little gaming community will fail. But what’s worse, we share complicity when we allow the abuse and do nothing. But stopping such abuse is NEVER going to happen unless we have this conversation first. And this conversation starts when the deeds of Erotica 1 are made public. So what Jester did was absolutely within the bounds of his obligation to the greater community he serves. I commend him for stepping up and taking the heat for doing it. That’s what real leaders do. Well done sir, I salute you. o7
Now the rest of us have a decision to make. Do we ignore this problem or do we address it as a community to ensure it never happens again? You know how I feel on the subject. How do you feel? Do you want to be safe from abuse, or would you rather take your chances? Wait before you answer. In fact, forget about you. What about your child, or your sister or your younger nephew? Do you want them to be safe? Do you want them to have an encounter with Erotica 1?
I didn’t think so. That’s why society has laws, to protect our children and those less capable of self-protection. So let’s step up to the plate on this one and do the right thing. CCP, you have an obligation. Please live up to it. Everyone else, you have an obligation. Do the right thing. And for anyone reading this who thinks Erotica 1 is a l33t kewl-dude and deserves a pat on the back, I hope the golden rule doesn’t make itself known to you real fast and in a hurry.