Three Fundamental Freedoms – Can We Have Rights in EVE?

 

EVE players are not, habitually, compassionate people. Whilst they might display a great deal of generosity to confused newbies (something I knew from begging in fleet), the majority will not blink twice at scamming, freighter ganking and frankly uncivilised amounts of gate-camping.

And that is fine – EVE is a sandbox, designed to be an anarcho-capitalist paradise. I’m not going to come in as some sort of shrill and outraged moral guardian.

However, there do come certain events which, for want of a better phrase, outrage the conscience of mankind. One such event was the Yokai Federation leadership demanding players, often very new to the game, spend $100 in order to play. This brought public condemnation on Reddit from all sources, and further, a robust military response from a coalition of players.

There was another similar event in June 2017, where scottmw15 enslaved about 30 newbies in a work camp deep in Russian territory – they were forced to rat and mine, and unable to escape, they either quit the game or worked on in misery. Only the coincidental intervention of a Goonswarm spy, and the subsequent commitment of an expeditionary force, saw these players freed.

We don’t hear about them because the victims are predominantly new players

I am willing to bet that abuses like this happen every day in New Eden. We don’t hear about them because the victims are predominantly new players. They don’t understand that these actions are beyond the pale – and if they do, they don’t necessarily understand how to seek help and escape to a friendlier corporation.

One example of this in action is the membership rates of the aforementioned Yokai Federation, with approximately 98% of players ceasing to play EVE after a time spent in it. The abusive policies carried out by Sara Somers, head of the Yokai Federation, drove players away from the game and made them less likely to engage with the wider community.

So, to review: EVE players can be dicks far beyond accepted norms, with negative effects to both players and the game as a whole. When the community finds out about this, they do act – but it is unlikely that they always find out about it.

The question now is simple. What can be done about this situation?

 

Three Fundamental Freedoms

I think that the most effective way to prevent this sort of genuinely abusive and poisonous behaviour is that players accept and enforce a basic code of ethics. The goal would be that if someone were to be found in breach of this code, then they are so effectively harassed, engaged and degraded that they cease said activity.

Setting rules in EVE is a very difficult proposition

Setting rules in EVE is a very difficult proposition. The easy solution, for one thing, of porting over a modern code of human rights, would be totally nonviable. Moreover, there are great deal of things in EVE which are certainly legitimate gameplay – such as suicide ganking, scamming and mass theft – which is not pleasant, but not fundamentally abusive in character.

Therefore, I would propose three fundamental freedoms to be accepted by capsuleers. These would be:

  •       Freedom from servitude
  •       Freedom of speech
  •       Freedom of property

Freedom from servitude

This is not some sort of ban on CTAs and coalition wide operations. It is designed to ensure that the players like scottmw15 cannot exploit other players by placing them in an inescapable situation and then making them work.

Freedom of speech

This is not some sort of ban on forum moderation. Nor should it be taken as an endorsement or incitement to hate speech. However, when alliances and corporations start massively censoring communications, compiling long lists of people players are not allowed to talk to and generally suppressing freedom of speech, action can be taken.

Freedom of property

EVE is fundamentally a capitalist game. Players are free to volunteer their resources to a cooperative endeavour, but they should not be ordered or compelled to do so in any capacity. This involves either in-game assets or money outside of game.

These three freedoms are targeted to prevent outright abusive and definitely repressive behaviour without comprising the anarchic character of EVE. You will note that I don’t call for defences of high-sec miners, mission-runners or couriers. Their destruction is part of the game, and when undocking, they consent to potential death. This is of a different character to behaviour involving luring new players into poisonous and oppressive situations.

So, to review: we should protect newbies and other players who can’t protect themselves. When doing this, we can stop or impede legitimate gameplay. Therefore, we should have three fundamental freedoms, as listed above.

 

Enforcement?

So, even in the unlikely event that people agreed to this in principle, how would we enforce it? Well, there are two levels at which I think enforcement could be organised.

The first would simply be a group of diplomats from major coalitions in order to coordinate operations. When a spy, journalist or scout spots a rights abuse, they confirm it and decide on how to respond – ranging from warning people about the corporation or individual up to dropping capital fleets on them.

The second level would be more complicated, and effectively demand an alliance of its own. It might be comprised of an enforcement unit, which undertakes direct military action (therefore relieving major coalitions of having to do this) and a resettlement unit which can ensure rescued players are able to find a safe home.

 

Realism?

This is ambitious – I make no excuses about that. However, I think that it is doable. EVE players have come together before to do immense good in the real world, donating over £500,000 to charity. I don’t think it is impossible for the community to come together in the name of protecting those exploited.

 

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Tags: Hopeful Turtle, human rights, new players

About the author

Hopeful Turtle

Hopeful Turtle started playing EVE after watching the ‘This is EVE’ trailer. He quickly decided to flee highsec and joined up with Karmafleet, wandering over to Delve to join the fight.


  • luobote kong

    I admire the thinking. Eve is however a plutocracy. Space rich entities control the game (and its development). That is sort of reflected in the mechanisms suggested to support these rights. Do you really want the nullsec posse to make moral judgements on your behalf?

    Freedom from servitude, if it means anything, must mean the capsuleer can be in more than one corp at any one time and have freedom of association. Beyond the technical difficulties CCP would have and the lack of a value proposition, the plutocrats would have no sensible basis to support this. So it would be great but will sadly never come to fruition.

    • Illiander

      “the capsuleer can be in more than one corp at any one time and have freedom of association.”

      Neutral alts are a thing.

      • luobote kong

        Which is why I used the singular capsuleer. Burn time/money on an additional capsuleer to mitigate against the potential servitude your main maybe subject to has always been an option. But that is like studying car mechanics or flower arranging or whatever while you are serving a jail sentence. Passes the time perhaps but that is all you can say about it.

  • Illiander

    One thing that you’re missing from your list, which should really be in the EULA:

    No-one should *ever* ask you to spend real-life money on PLEX. For *any* reason.

    The EULA currently bans this when it’s part of a scam, but it should just ban it flat-out. Mostly to avoid people quibbling over “what is a scam”

  • What was the mechanic by which the players were kept locked in a particular corporation?

    • Hopeful Turtle

      Not mechanics – just depriving week old players of any education and sticking them in the middle of Russian held sov. Difficult to escape in a ship, and they didn’t understand deathcloning.

  • DireNecessity

    Clever piece Hopeful Turtle. I greatly appreciate that you’re not suggesting changes to EVE’s EULA but instead proposing a set of player generated/player enforced in game norms. Convincing the powers that be to agree and enforce such norms could be great fun.

    That said, your entire piece appears to grow out of “won’t somebody thing of the newbies?” which, much like real life, usually isn’t about the children. Additionally, this is inaccurate:
    “There was another similar event in June 2017, where scottmw15 enslaved about 30 newbies in a work camp deep in Russian territory – they were forced to rat and mine, and unable to escape, they either quit the game or worked on in misery.” Every single one of those newbs was able to escape without quitting the game. They could have switched to an alt (each and every account hands you three characters) or, if they were really fond of their ‘enslaved’ character, they could have death cloned out. You can’t enslave an immortal capsuleer. It’s mechanically impossible.

    Casting Scooter McCabe as the hero of the story makes for a feel good narrative. It’s unfortunate that narrative only gets off the ground by misrepresenting the game’s mechanics.

    Edit: The only freedom anybody needed was the right to education and scottmw15 was never able to take that away.

    • Hopeful Turtle

      “Every single one of those newbs was able to escape without quitting the game. They could have switched to an alt (each and every account hands you three characters) or, if they were really fond of their ‘enslaved’ character, they could have death cloned out. You can’t enslave an immortal capsuleer. It’s mechanically impossible.”

      You are entirely correct on the mechanics of that. However, those newbs didn’t really understand how the game worked – and, more crucially, didn’t realise for quite some time that scottmw15’s treatment was not normal (and so escaping would be kind of pointless). Now, what they did need was education – which could not be taken away, absolutely – but if you’re dipping your toe into the game and you come across this as your first exposure, the response is probably more likely to just stop playing (which did certainly happen in Yokai, and may have happened with Standing United as well).

      So yes, if those newbs had known much of anything about the game, then it would have been trivially easy to avoid. But, well, they’re newbs; they are in a default state of total ignorance (hell, I’ve been playing a few months and I still know painfully little).

  • Bertram Renning

    Very interesting reflexion. A much needed one.
    As pointed out, eve mecanics assure most of the fundamental freedom you describe, it is then up to the player to fight to keep them.
    The problems then lies with the awareness of the characters/players. And writing an article about it seems like a good step to answer the problem :).
    There is a right that you didn’t mention, one we all have in the begining of our new eden adventures but that most surrender : privacy.
    As for the rest I do think that it is up to us to defend our own privacy. However I am not sure if you do not consider it an issue or if you completly gave up on it.

  • Slawek

    This text is dumb. Dumb as fuck. The author has no clue what he’s talking about, has no clue what “rights” are and where have they come from. It’s a vomit of nicely sounding platitudes with no sense nor reason.

  • a simple merc

    This article has just proven that ethics are already enforced , the community mocks and condemns those who commit such actions when discovered.
    To survive and prosper in new Eden, there is a requirement to have some sort of common sense and general wits , new player or vet , both are subject to this rule. Those that fall to these scams and practical slave corps have some share of the responsibility in letting this crime occur . Leave things the way they are , I see this as part of the new Eden experience , get smart , get tough , get revenge or give up

  • M_Oskold

    “slave camp” just stop playing eve? or do some research in google? like i get that you drink the koolaid to some extent, but damn thats just being lazy.

  • edeity

    Gallente Roleplay returns!