Oh EVE, of course you're not a freeman's paradise

On its face, EVE Online seems such a paradise for the independent person. No laws, no restrictions, no way forward except individual merit. Can't handle it? Die or quit. Completely predictably, the resulting society does not consist of thousands of yeoman farmers but rather strong-man rule in the form of player guilds (corporations). Over and above this emergent oligarchic tyranny, the owners of EVE established a first-of-its-kind player governance, a parliament of sorts whereby the players would supposedly be able to have a hand on the game's development. This only replays once again the farce told eloquently by our own Julian Dibbell many years ago in his My Tiny Life. Another famous example was Peter Ludlow's and Mark Wallace's experience in the "freedom-loving" confines of Sims Online and Second Life.

For, as correspondent Marcus Carter reports, there ain't no freedom in EVE after all. He writes:


Something just happened in EVE Online that I thought TerraNovans might be interested in.

EVE has a player elected council, the CSM. The election for CSM7 just finished. The winner, ‘The Mittani’ is a bit of a controversial figure in EVE, and got most of the votes. It doesn’t hurt that he is the head diplomat for the Goonswarm Federation, probably the most powerful (and controversial) alliance in the game (Goonswarm made TerraNova last October).

Voting for CSM7 finished at around about the time EVE Fanfest began. At the Alliance Panel hosted by CCP, near the end of fanfest, The Mittani made some controversial comments.

I’ll just copy/paste from the massively article

During a Q&A session after the presentation, he said something that has become the focus of a great deal of controversy. "Incidentally, if you want to make the guy kill himself, his (in-game) name is [redacted]," The Mittani said, adding that "he has his own corp. Find him." The talk was watched by a packed room of Fanfest attendees and streamed live to thousands of players at home. 

In the community, there was/is serious uproar. Many were quick to point out that what The Mittani had done was in strict violation of the EVE EULA and has been described as cyber-bullying. He soon apologised, and later offered his resignation from the chairman position on CSM7, but not the CSM itself.

However, CCP just announced that his conduct on the day was a “clear violation of our Terms of Service” and “According to our existing policies, we have issued a 30 day ban from EVE Online to the panel speaker” which removes him from the CSM entirely. See more from that statement here.

What I find most interesting is that *a player broke a games EULA while not even playing that game*. In the thread on the forums, several users were quick to jump on this, some more flippantly than others, “You guys should ban me because I am sitting in my room saying EULA/TOS breaking things out loud in front of the monitor”.

Now while this situation is clearly different, occurring at a hosted CCP event and live-streamed online, but if the boundary for a game EULA isn’t at the end of the game – where is it?


Interesting question.

Comments on Oh EVE, of course you're not a freeman's paradise:

Stabs says:

I've been following the story with interest and even by Eve standards it's a dramatic one. Someone leaked The Mittani's home address out during an Eve Radio cast and someone promptly vowed to come round and "rape his wife to death". Several hours later she was posting on the Something Awful boards to ask "which one of you idiots called the police in". They are taking the threat seriously and are keeping an eye on the house. Mittens himself is doing his best to persuade the officers to give Eve a try.

Posted Apr 5, 2012 12:32:34 PM | link

greglas says:

Not an expert on Eve and have not read the linked posts, but according to some, the dichotomy between in-game and out-of-game (aka the magic circle) doesn't exist:


I tend to think it does -- sort of -- exist, but I think the "in game" vs. "out of game" is more about general assumptions and norms than it is about solid lines.

Re freedom -- what does it really mean to be free within a society? I think what you're saying is that Eve is not a democracy, right? I can sign on to that.

Posted Apr 5, 2012 1:58:54 PM | link

CherryBombSim says:

Oh, yes. You can def break the game's EULA while you are not actually playing the game. EA told me so, and I have the bruises to prove it.

Posted Apr 6, 2012 12:24:33 AM | link

Elle Pollack says:

Whether or not CCP is indeed tossing The Mittani under the bus to mollify the court of bad publicity, I back their reasoning: it happened at a CCP hosted forum and went out over CCP sponsored bandwidth, so it is within their "community standards" purview in the same way the Eve forums are. And the game is also part of that community umbrella (I would take the opposite stand if it were a single player game, and I would take the opposite stand if the incident happened on a third-party venue - those are things EA has done). That said, I cannot find anything in the rules that explicitly says forum and game disciplinary actions may intersect, other than the boilerplate "we can cut you off at our discretion for any or no reason" in both of them. But being a paying account holder is a condition of being able to post in the forums, so they are not unlinked.

Posted Apr 6, 2012 1:12:48 AM | link

mbp says:

I wonder if he is offering to let the officers join the Gooons for a down payment of 600 million isk (In game joke).

More seriously though this is a bad situation and while I admire Mittens' wife for taking it light heartedly I think I would call the police myself if someone made threats like that against anyone in my family.

Posted Apr 6, 2012 7:19:59 AM | link

shander22 says:

As alluded in the ted's op, the memes in EVE run deep... "can I have your stuff" , "qq, I'll call the wambulance" etc taken to a whole nother level.

Player to Player scamming is part of the sandbox challenge and like a handshake on a survivor TV show means an entirely different thing to different people within the context.

I'd think people would be able to controll the references to peoples real life names during game related discussions though... that is a pretty easy bright-line for people to follow, and I think inexcusable for Mitani. Of course many people form real life relations in those games (marrianges, rl business partnerships etc resulting) yet the interaction with real names on a meta level is usually limited among much smaller groups of people who have been working intimately in game with each other.

I'm less shocked by the threats themselves because within the game context they are all hyperbole . The eve game enviorment does extend outside of game with all of the thrid party applications, voice servers etc . The meta game very much does include gauging peoples differing holiday and work scheduals to make achieving game goals ineffective and success in the game often comes from demoralizing your opponent on a meta level to make the numbers turning out to attack or defend much smaller as people are unlikely to "set alarm clocks" to wake at 4 am only to lose.

They seem to be trying to draw the line at rl threats though. Someone was banned for telling a CCP employee "i hope you die in a fire" , clearly an example of an idiom not carrying well internationally. To me its the threat connected to spreading a RL name broader than it is know that is wrong. I don't take the "suicide" part at all on the level it sounds, that was contextual hyperbole, yet i was certainly an invitation to RL harrassment , any of which, even a prank phone call, is beyond the correct meta level.

Posted Apr 16, 2012 5:33:02 PM | link

C05 says:

Eve Online transitioned from a game to a competitive power fantasy years ago, and the meta-game is now fused with the virtual. In fact I would argue out of game tools, resources, and communication networks are essential to be competitive.

The actual online game is merely the scoreboard.

Posted Apr 21, 2012 9:38:02 PM | link

Top 100 Arena says:

Wow. I'm not an Eve player, so I haven't heard this story until now. How outrageous! It sounds like the game world is becoming just as ridiculous as the "real" world.

Posted May 19, 2012 7:07:00 PM | link

Jack says:

Cant some sue for that ?

Posted Jun 19, 2012 11:00:41 PM | link