Being Odd


So, have you read my Crossing Zebra’s bio? Here, I’ll quote it for you:

A soloish, long-term casual player since 2009 sporting a troubling history of preying on the good people of highsec, these days DireNecessity enjoys the gentle pleasures like manufacturing, grandbabies and formal dining.

Now readers, if you end your bio on gentle pleasures like manufacturing, grandbabies and formal dining you get to do the sentimental. Sentimental is fast becoming a specialty of mine. My last piece, Identities, more or less ended on “I hugged a girl and I liked it!” while the one before that, On Rancor, orbited around me playing with the grandbabies. For a universe full of HTFU pilots, you kids sure are oddly fond of emotion laden claptrap. I like that about you.


Ganking Is Bullying

When the middle of your Crossing Zebras bio sports a troubling history of preying on the good people of highsec you stumble across things like Ganking Is Bullying. It’s an interesting read, you might go have a look/see. Two points particularly caught my attention. Let us first explore Section 3:

Okay, let’s talk facts. What is bullying?

While there are a number of common definitions of bullying, most agree that it is a behavior characterized by: Repeated aggressive activity by one person or group of people against another specific person or group or class of people over a period of time, with the intention of causing them physical, mental, and/or emotional harm, and Involving a real or perceived imbalance of power between aggressor and aggressed, in favor of the former.

that things hinge on whether we believe the victim deserved the ill-treatment

Hmmm, seems incomplete. Well-mannered employees of a society’s justice system repeatedly, aggressively, utilizing both real and perceived power imbalances, intentionally cause physical, mental and emotional harm against specific people and groups. In such societies we call the victims of such aggressive actions criminals and laud those who deliver the harm as protectors of the weak and defenseless. My point, of course, is that things hinge on whether we believe the victim deserved the ill-treatment. If they did, justice. If they didn’t, bullying. (CODE. roleplays that they deliver deserved punishment, a song and dance I haven’t found appealing.)

Though our author never specifically addresses this crucial deserved/undeserved clarification, he does get somewhere close when discussing consent in and around section 17 so let us now explore that:

So by playing Eve and undocking, don’t players thereby consent to being ganked?

No. By way of analogy, passengers who board an airplane do so knowing that a plane crash is a possibility, but they do not thereby consent to the pilot flying their plane into the ground.

Personally, I prefer to limit whipping out analogies only to illustrating how I’m thinking about something. Clarifying one’s own position is uncontested ground. At the same time, analogies can and often are used to argue against and/or vilify somebody else’s position. Vilifying analogies, especially around EVE, often display a subtle, “Surely you agree that . . .” undercurrent trap which, when successfully sprung, reveal the entrapped to be full on sociopathic hypocrites. Given such consequences, EVE arguments by analogy get unwieldy fast as disputants warily circle each other steadfastly refusing to accept the other’s picture of the situation. That’s not to say arguments by analogy can’t be illuminating, just that they may not be illuminating in the way disputants intend.


murdering passengers is something airline pilots aren’t supposed to do

Having stated my unease with argument by analogy, I will now surely agree that in no reasonable way does a plane passenger meaningfully consent to fiery death even though boarding a plane enables the possibility that the pilot will take them on a doomed ride. Hah, hah! Trap sprung, right? Not exactly. The reason it’s not consent is because the entire airline industry is built around the very reasonable expectation that murdering passengers is something airline pilots aren’t supposed to do. (Our author makes a close flyby of this clarification but sadly doesn’t land the craft so I’ll explore consent related implications for him.) When an airline pilot’s not supposed to murder passengers, a passenger granting consent doesn’t suddenly allow it. Conversely, when an airline pilot augers a plane into a mountainside, no one particularly cares if a frightened passenger in the midst of the tragedy announces that they do not consent. In the analogy, consent is irrelevant.

So it seems the pertinent question isn’t consent but whether real life airline pilots and EVE virtual pilots shoulder similar moral expectations and that hinges on whether, when one boards the EVE client, space murder is something EVE pilots aren’t supposed to do. CCP’s server mechanics and EULA specifically support space murder. It seems odd to morally vilify an action intentionally supported by a game’s mechanics and rules while at the same time not vilifying the institution (CCP) that facilitates that same action. With a wave of the code wand CCP could completely eliminate Gank Bullying – a change our author studiously avoids requesting. It strikes me as a lot of effort merely to end on a disapproving finger wag. Maybe our author thought we’d reached a ‘teachable moment’?

‘Teachable moment’ does return our author to coherence since from that position, EVE isn’t a game, or at least not merely a game, but rather an intricately designed, rock solid moral test. One I have horribly failed. Was such moral testing CCP’s goal from the get-go, or did they just stumble across it? Surprisingly, such view is a little closer to accurate than one may initially think. Not the moral testing (CCP isn’t robustly tracking everybody’s behavior and then assigning wholesome/loathsome grades – nullsec and wormholes don’t even have Crimewatch), but rather, EVE, being a sandbox MMOG, is a game built on social interaction, meaning norms of behavior will be of central importance. And they are. Attacking a blue’s structures in nullsec starts wars. Failing to put up a fight in wormholes is grounds for eviction. Suicide ganking in highsec gets you yelled at.


norms of behavior don’t flow down from on high, they bubble up from the quaggy slime of complicated lived life

And there, at last, is the deep difference between me and our author. Ganking is Bullying is carefully crafted to remove context. Bullying of any sort is, for our author, equally contemptible, everywhere, all the time. For our author, norms of behavior drop out of objective universal truths. Meanwhile, I think context matters. For me, bullying in one context is laudable protection of the weak and innocent in another. For me, norms of behavior don’t flow down from on high, they bubble up from the quaggy slime of complicated lived life. For me wormholes aren’t nullsec, nullsec isn’t lowsec, lowsec isn’t highsec and highsec isn’t real life.

So what do I, a shameless suicide ganker think of Ganking is Bullying? I think it illuminatingly clever, if a little muddled. Should my lack of shame over my CONCORD punishable transgressions after reading our author’s 27 sections make me a full on sociopathic hypocrite who ought to ‘stay away from your children – and my own,’ so be it. It’s a free internet, you can believe the inappropriately hugging, absolute child abusing worst of me if you wish. It’ll be sandboxy fun. We’ll toss creative invective at each other. I’ll like that about you.



To make a mirror, heat a box of silica sand to liquefaction. Pour the resultant liquid onto a flat, cool slab. Once the liquid congeals add a silver lining to the top side. Invert and have a look/see. There’s your EVE. I like that about this game.


Nerds! Nerds! Nerds!

When the start of your Crossing Zebras bio describes you as a long term solish player since 2009 you take great pleasure dining at a restaurant in Las Vegas near the end of October as a rowdy crowd enters chanting “Nerds! Nerds! Nerds!” because you’ll know, unlike the rest of the befuddled patrons, that that rowdy crowd, all of whom though absolute strangers to you, are still your people. Your wonderfully odd people. I like that about you too.


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Tags: DireNecessity, highsec ganking, moral, sandbox

About the author


A soloish long-term casual player since 2009, sporting a troubling history of preying on the good people of highsec, these days DireNecessity enjoys the gentle pleasures like manufacturing, grandbabies and formal dining.