Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Eve-il Online and the Incredibly Silly Mr. Teg

This entry might make me a bit unpopular in some circles, but so be it. Never let it be said that I was afraid to go on record about something that people might not agree with.

If you look in the right hand margin of my blog here you'll see a roll of blogs I tend to read, all at least partially deal with Eve, most entirely deal with Eve. Some of them link back here, some of them don't. It's not something I concern myself with as I don't promote that list to get cross promotion. I also don't necessarily see eye to eye with all of the authors on that list. For example, I find Gevlon to be bat spit crazy most of the time, but I will read some of his entries because in between all the crazy, there's actually some interesting things to sift out of it. In the case of Ripard Teg... well from one fad to the next with him, you never really know what to expect from the guy.

I've been reading a lot of Ripard's blog lately, and shaking my head sadly at his current campaign to rid the game I love of it's seedier sort of player. My old friends at Massively have wasted no time playing the Cyber Bully card in reference to Ripard's Bonus Room posting. Of course, with the recent budget cuts and layoffs over at Massively, I guess I'm not surprised they couldn't afford to write more than a handful of words of their own, and not actually have someone write the piece that knows Ripard doesn't write for EN24 so much as just gives them permission to repost his blog entries.

Let's talk about the Bonus Room for a minute then. It's not actually Fight Club, so this shouldn't be against the rules. First, I want to make plain that I don't agree with the things Erotica 1 does to people. It's not really my thing, and I do believe it takes a "special" type of person to get off on the shit he pulls. He's a bad man, maybe a real life villain, but he's also not my problem. He's not CCP's problem either.

Erotica 1 might be Sohkar and his wife's problem. But Sohkar is a grown man (though maybe not a smart man) an adult, and presumably so is his wife. He's not a child. I listened to the majority of the Bonus Room recording, and when I was done I had two very clear thoughts. First, Erotica 1 and his buddies really should be ashamed to take advantage of such a weak minded individual. Second, I hope to God Sohkar isn't really an air traffic controller. I think that possibility scares me more than anything else about this situation.

Ripard's assertion that what Sohkar went through was akin to torture is laughable at best. It actually boils my blood a little bit, and suggests that Ripard actually knows very little about torture. Sohkar will likely recover fully once he figures out that just about everything said in Jita local is a scam, or that Eve is probably a game he shouldn't be playing. People who actually go through real torture are often scarred for life. Let's not pretend that Sohkar was strapped down to a table and forced to do anything. There was nothing forcing him to stay in that teamspeak channel except his own greed, and the hopes he didn't just get scammed (though he seems to suspect that's exactly the case fairly early on).

Torture is about forcing your will on another person that has no choice but to endure it, breaking them where they have no way out. No one forced Sohkar to give Erotica and his friends every last shred of his Eve possessions. He was tricked. Conned. No one water boarded him to get him to read James315's code. No one attached electrodes to his nipples to get him to sing the Gummi Bear song. Hope and greed is what kept him blinded and in the game for as long as he remained. It wasn't until grim reality finally caught up with him and lifted the blindness from his eyes that he snapped. Surely he was mad at Erotica and company, but he was also likely mad at himself for falling for their trick.

The next thing to pour off of Ripard's fingers that really got under my skin was this little gem:

If you -- for even a single moment! -- would think to defend what is happening here or if you think it is "funny", I invite you to share this recording with your mother or your aunt or your grandmother or your sister. Tell them that this is something that happens in the video game that you play. Tell them the "funny" tale of a few friends in EVE Online having a few laughs. Play her the recording. Let her judge this recording from outside the bubble that you're living in.
Ok, was the Bonus Room recording funny? I don't think so. But if Ripard thinks this is so bad and horrible, why don't we take this to the police and tell them about how this poor man was tortured out of every possession he had in an online video game? He won't, and none of us will because it would induce one of those horrible uncomfortable silences where no one is really sure if you're just joking or if you've completely lost your mind. The woman relative bit blows my mind as well. I should think any human being that doesn't play Eve would have a similar reaction ("Why the fuck am I listening to this dumb shit, let's go do something else.") but perhaps Ripard just thinks that women in general are especially not able to grasp the concept behind Eve and scammers... Therein leads us to my next point, because regardless of how I or anyone else personally feels about what happened in this case...

It's not CCPs problem.

But, but, this happened in Eve! - Not Exactly a Ripard Teg quote.
As far as I can tell, none of the Bonus Room conversation happened in Eve Online. It happened on a 3rd party teamspeak server. The goods in Eve were transferred through the client, but up to and through that point, this was just another scam. regardless of what happened after that, this is a VERY slippery slope Ripard is asking CCP to climb on here. Granted, this is a pretty extreme situation. While I reserve the term Cyber Bullying to be between school children, not grown men, this is still not a very nice thing to do to someone.

If CCP can step outside of Eve and punish people for what they say and do OUTSIDE the game, where does it end? Posting porn in game will get you warnings and bans... if one of my alliance mates posts pornographic images that offend my sensibilities in our teamspeak channel while we play Eve can I petition him and have him banned? If another alliance in Eve DDOSs our voice comms just before we're about to fight them can we petition CCP to replace our ships because they prevented us from being able to fight back effectively? I think we all know the answer here; it's that Ripard Teg is a silly man, and we should be happy he's not actually running the show at CCP (though we know he'd love to).

Yes, I am aware that The Mittani got a ban for doing something very dumb while drunk at fanfest. However one can make the argument that since Fanfest is an official CCP sponsored Event, and The Mittani was speaking at an official CCP sponsored panel, broadcast live on official CCP sponsored EveTV, we can maybe see where this line lies.

For things outside of Eve, one must rely on the rule of law, and in that we must ask ourselves, were any laws broken here? Can we call and report this to the Police and expect anything to come of it? Sadly, unless we're taking into account the threats made on the lives of the people running the scam in this case, I don't see anything here to report. If this had been done to a child... maybe, but between grown men this one is closer to yelling at your neighbor because his dog took a shit on your lawn than fisticuffs outside the local night club.

Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of Ripard's constant calls for CCP to clamp down on Eve's scammers and bad guys. Current policies are fine. If you think CCP condones threats of attack on people in game, ask Ginger Magician when his ban will be over. Hell, a guy jokingly threatened to kill himself in Jita a couple weeks back and CCP called interpol who sent a pair of RCMP to the guy's house within 6 hours!

I know that Ripard is advocating his crusade from a place of goodness in his heart, though part of me also thinks he just likes the attention it's getting him. If you want to actually read something sensible about how the "news" relates to Eve, Drakarn over at Sand Cider and Spaceships wrote an absolutely brilliant piece giving a parallel to Eve's press and what aliens might think of Earth if they only judged us by the headlines in our own real life news. With that in mind, maybe our little problem with a very select few individuals in Eve Online is more a symptom of a bigger problem with the human race in general rather than us being... "That Game"


  1. Excellent post, sir.

  2. Finally some logic and common sense.

  3. "Torture is about forcing your will on another person that has no choice but to endure it, breaking them where they have no way out."
    Consider torture for purposes of making the victim do something, such as perform an act or give up some information. The whole time they have a way out, the option of giving up the information. The point of this torture is not to inflict pain on the victim, it is to make them lose hope and give up.
    In the Bonus Room, the victim is faced with the same option, continue suffering or give up hope. The repeated idea of having 'faith in the process' is designed specifically to feed that hope so that more suffering can be inflicted on the victim.
    So while this process may not be as severe as torture, it certainly follows the same principles.

    And I would have to say that this IS CCPs problem. Ero1 is using EVE as a platform to find victims for this out of game activity, and using ingame items to manipulate his victims.
    If it was found that a serial killer was using a facebook account to select and find his victims, don't you think it would be facebook's responsibility to close the account after it was discovered?

    1. E1 is not killing anybody. Are you equating a scam with murder? Let me remind you that the only person who was throwing around death threats was Sohkar. Do you condone that sort of behaviour?

    2. That's the question here, Poe. What kind of behaviour do we condone?

      How big a pile of crap does someone have to be to be considered unacceptable?

    3. It is not the scam i have an issue with, i am fine with the scam. It is the 2 hours of completely unnecessary suffering inflicted afterwards that is the issue here. I am not equating this suffering with murder, I am comparing it with torture. If you wish you can replace serial killer with serial torturer.
      The point is, if you're product is being used by someone to achieve a significantly negative goal, then it does not matter whether the goal has anything to do with the product, you have a responsibility to either remove the function that makes the product useful for achieving negative goals, or deny the person access to the product.

      As for the death threats, those given in anger after 2 hours of suffering by an individual with a deteriorated mental state do not particularly concern me.
      Unfortunately death threats have been given in anger since before civilisation, and rarely come to pass. Additionally, the threats were retracted and apologised for. The individuals doing this have never shown so much as remorse or regret for their actions.

  4. The ad hominems weaken an otherwise solid counterpoint, FunkyBacon.

    There's no doubt that the question of legality is irrelevant - and not even raised, iirc.
    Ripard seems to be raising more of an ethical / morality question - that of whether the EVE community wants people who do this to be a part of it, and by extension, where The Line That Folks Ought Not Cross happens to be drawn.

    Poe and others say that Ero1 is an "outlier", and sure - we don't see scams take on this degree of calculated cruelty often - but does that make it acceptable?

    It's fair that demanding CCP Do Something About It is a huge ring-pull can of worms, but the question of the community's ethical stance doesn't go away, even if "who cares?" is the majority response.

  5. "Erotica 1 and his buddies really should be ashamed to take advantage of such a weak minded individual."

    Even you aren't agreeing with their actions. That should tell you something.

    It is funny - while I didn't read all comments on this topic across all the blogs, the above sentiment did struck out amongst people claiming that Jester created a hurricane in a water glass.

    Are we really ok with the notion that CCP gives sociopaths (as confirmed by even some of their defenders) free reign?

    We can't eliminate sociopaths, as they are part of human society, but we could make them unwelcome. Sociopaths will continue to conquer the headlines unless there's a majority of nice players making ever bigger headlines working against them. And sociopaths not being penalized is not helping either.

    Unless of course you want them around, to indulge in schadenfreude over their victims.

    "our little problem with a very select few individuals in Eve Online is more a symptom of a bigger problem with the human race in general"

    So because it's a problem with human race in general (which actually is true), we don't even /try/ to do what little we can do about it?

    That's defeatist talk.

    And recalling the initial quote of yours: Are you of that little conviction?

    As for Lair's $Facebook question: yes. And if $Facebook wouldn't, it would tell you a lot about $Facebook.

    (The '$" is Unix variable notation, not necessarily related with greediness. Insert any large commercial web site operation for Facebook as you wish.)

    tl'dr: A line a recently read: Brutalize the character, not the player. If it's not covered by an in-game module, it's not an in-game action.

    1. I invite you to reassess your prejudice against sociopaths. Many productive, even nice members of our society are sociopaths.

      Go and read and get a better idea of who it is you are talking about. Sociopath is not a word that means "I am evil and do terrible things to people". It means only that the person does not experience empathy.

      Lucie Devlin

    2. "Are we really ok with the notion that CCP gives sociopaths (as confirmed by even some of their defenders) free reign?"

      Well, we should be, because we chose to play the one true sandbox game where this is possible. Most people that want to avoid social contact in an MMO and thus seem "sociopathic" (in this case this term rather applies to the victim btw) know how to avoid situations where they depend on others.
      Some don't, and then this happens.

  6. Excellent entry and spot on.

  7. Awesome thread sir.
    Common sense will prevail.

  8. Well said. Agree completely. I actually liked the cruelty aspect of it all. Perhaps I'm just twisted in some way. Oh well.

  9. CCP Falcon made a very interesting comment when he was locking the duplicate threads on the EVE-O forums - "This is a situation that we've been monitoring for some time now, and recent events have sparked renewed discussion with regards to what, if anything will be done in regards to what's happened."

    Perhaps I'm clutching at straws but it sounds a lot like this sort of thing has already been discussed on the CSM and despite claims to the contrary, I think that Ripard wanted to create a storm in a teacup to re-open the discussion and push his own agenda.

    Either way, I agree completely with your article and I sincerely hope to see you on CSM 9.

  10. I invite you all to think of this.

    Until this explicate action is deemed unacceptable or illegal by either CCP TOS or the Written Law then their isn't shit you can do other than whine into you blog posts.

    I invite you all to be incited by Teg and go shoot a statue in Jita for change. The rest of us with better things to do will ignore you as usual. (oh and good post FB)

  11. it still irks me that a cyberbully like alex gianturco (the mittani) is still allowed to play the game ... he deserves a lifetime ban for that stunt he pulled.

  12. So I take it you do not believe that the first point of EVE's Terms of Service does not cover this situation?

    "1. You may not abuse, harass or threaten another player or authorized representative of CCP, including customer service personnel and volunteers. This includes, but is not limited to: filing support tickets with false information in an attempt to gain from it or have someone else suffer from it; sending excessive e-mails, EVE-mails or support tickets; obstructing CCP Employees from doing their jobs; refusal to follow the instructions of a CCP Employee; or implying favoritism by a CCP Employee."

    Since the examples include out-of-game actions against CCP employees, does this also cover out-of-game actions against players as well?

    The funny thing is that Ripard assumes that the ToS does not cover the situation. He's talked to the devs, and despite stating that even whether he had a discussion with CCP about this is under NDA, has not made a ToS violation a part of his argument. Is that due to his discussions with CCP?

    1. I have to say that because the event actually happened and the victim of the con in this case was not a CCP employee being impaired from his job, the TOS does not apply here.

    2. Actually happened on a 3rd party service and not in game is what I meant to say.

    3. This is just my interpretation and of course I am not part of CCP, but I'd like to offer an alternative interpretation that would suggest this part of the TOS could apply here. I've bolded the relevant bits:

      "1. You may not abuse, harass or threaten another player or authorized representative of CCP, including customer service personnel and volunteers. This includes, but is not limited to: filing support tickets with false information in an attempt to gain from it or have someone else suffer from it; sending excessive e-mails, EVE-mails or support tickets; obstructing CCP Employees from doing their jobs; refusal to follow the instructions of a CCP Employee; or implying favoritism by a CCP Employee."

      To extrapolate, first off this entire TOS section applies to players as well as CCP employees, except for the parts specifically referring to CCP employees (like following their instructions). Second, it does not just apply to the forms of harassment listed; there's not any specific limit on what forms harassment may be deemed to take and it definitely does not say it is confined to ingame interactions. Third, it lists sending e-mails, which are an inherently out-of-game interaction; note that it does not tie that specifically to contacting CCP or its employees, as it does with other examples, also that it differentiates between e-mails and eve-mails.

      Based on those points it doesn't seem unreasonable to say that the TOS are applicable to out-of-game communications in at least some instances, at CCP's discretion.

      I'd also like to mention a previous instance that CCP deemed harassment that might be relevant to this instance, though obviously CCP are not bound by prior case decisions or required to be consistent. The original reason that James 315 started charging miners ISK to avoid bumping (this was back before he got into ganking miners instead) was that when he first started bumping miners he was asked to stop by a GM, responding to a miner who had petitioned his actions, because it was deemed harassment because there was no ingame benefit to James' actions. He started demanding ISK to get around that, as with the reasonable expectation that miners would pay to end his bumping spree there was an ingame benefit. The rest, of course, is history.

      I bring this up because at the point that Sohkar entered the bonus round teamspeak he had already given all his EVE assets to Erotica 1 - there was no ingame benefit to Erotica or his friends to torment Sohkar. If CCP choose to view that TS channel as being covered by the TOS (which is entirely within their discretion to do, based on the wording of the TOS - not that they actually need a TOS violation to ban Erotica, since the EULA already says they can do so for any or no reason) and if they choose apply the same standard to Erotica 1 that they applied to James 315 then Erotica 1's actions would appear to be classed as harassment.

      Obviously that's all just my interpretation and of course it's all up to CCP as to whether to choose to apply the TOS to Erotica 1's TS channels or not. On the other hand if they did choose to do so, I think they could justify it as breaking that section of the TOS.

    4. The in-game benefit to the bonus round is the ambiguity of the scam to other potential marks.

      Since sohkar decided for himself that he was leaving and losing, no one can say that he was scammed. Who knows, if he sang the other 19 songs he owed and agreed to, he may very well have ended up a multi-billionaire.

      The point of the bonus round is not just to entertain sociopaths, but to shift the owness on to the mark, rather than the scammer. This makes it possible to continue the scam even with losers calling foul left and right. The newest mark will always think that the others lost because they didn't follow the rules, and that if they do follow the rules, they have a chance of winning.

      Occasionally they do win, too (grats yodaknows!). So perhaps the bonus round also allows erotica to vet candidates more thoroughly.

      How do you people talk about what essentially amounts to a freighter gank and a prank phone call as though it's on the same tier as thumbscrews or waterboarding. The guy got too attached to his space-bucks and it's not the responsibility of any scammer to tell you they're scamming you.

      Erotica gave the guy a pretty solid idea of what would be expected from him in the round, even a pretty good idea on the amount of time it would take, and sohkar still threw in the towel far short of what he initially agreed to. Open, shut.

  13. Funky, you have cast your lot with the wrong side here. Too bad. I hope it costs you the last slim chance you had for the CSM.

    1. If being on the side of common sense is the wrong side, I'm not sure I'd want to be on the right side in the first place. I'm sorry if you feel people can't take responsibility for their own actions and think a game company needs to police its players outside the game in cases where law enforcement wouldn't give a shit.

    2. "Funky, you have cast your lot with the wrong side here."

      No, no he hasn't.

  14. There are lots of ways to deal with undesirables while maintaining that EVE laissez faires sandbox.

    I can understand wanting to call out lame EVE players like E1, and even trying to get CCP to crack down, because it might be bad PR and scare off people. I personally would rather there be less scamming but cracking down on a player who hasn't broken the EULA that wouldn't be wise in my opinion. I'm thinking because Jester has previously mentioned the 1980's D&D issues, and perhaps if D&D ceased to exist then he might have a point. Instead though, D&D is bigger than ever. Huge in fact. But I can understand Jester's fear.

    Now, I think CCP should include bigger warnings for new players about the consequences of giving out their API key, likening it to giving out their credit card to people, and how to lock down the API key.

    I also think that if CCP created a channel that would be on the captains quarters video screen (the one that all new players watch and interact with), they could display known scammers and link to details of the scams to be aware of. Just like in real life, when a security bulletin is sent out warning people of new phishing scams.

    Giving players a sort of in-game "YELP" where new players can look up a player and instantly see known associates, comments from other players, etc. Idunno.

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  16. Funky, I absolutely share your disdain for Jester's hyperbole regarding the incident.

    Jester likens Erotica's actions to torture. He even runs down a checklist, as though the latter were standing trial for war crimes. Sleep deprivation. It's almost comical. Somewhere along the line, Jester conveniently forgot the central difference between torture and the shenanigans of the bonus room: 'victim' choice - or rather, Sohkar's choice. There is no coercion in the bonus room - participation is entirely voluntary. It cheapens torture - diminishes the enormity of suffering inflicted on those who have actually experienced it.

    Jester repeatedly challenges dissenters to relate the story to, and observe the reactions of, females in their lives:

    "I invite you to share this recording with your mother or your aunt or your grandmother or your sister... I assure you this female relative will look at you in a whole new light thereafter."

    "I invite you to share this recording with your mother. See what she thinks. Get a neutral observer's perspective as to who's to blame here."

    Jester is most likely suggesting that females should be consulted because they are, on average, more removed from virtual worlds than males. Perhaps he believes that females are better arbiters of ethics in general. Perhaps both. It doesn't matter - as far as I'm concerned, one should consult multiple individuals, male and female, so long as they don't carry any significant investment in virtual worlds. For me, that would be every single one of my friends and family. The reaction is invariably the same, but it isn't the one that Jester is looking for: "why is this dude so mad at losing his imaginary space money? Get a life - and some perspective."

    1. As for asking a a female relative about the situation, when that blogpost first came out I noted in the comments that Jester seemed fond of assigning homework to other people. He liked to order his readers to ask questions of female relatives. In my comment I turned this around and gave him an assignment: ask the child or wife of an abusive father/husband if what happened to Sohkar rises to the level of torture. I think I got my answer; the comment was deleted.