Warning: geek philosophy ahead.
As I sometimes do, I'm going to invoke a movie, and the movie this time is True Lies, a very clever collaboration between Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron, based on a story by three French writers. Be warned: I might spoil some plot elements, but the statute of limitations has definitely run out. And before I start with the quoting, I'm going to ride ride past the complaints that have been made about this movie's misogyny and "Arabs as fanatics" plot-line, if that's OK. I would just as soon keep this blog apolitical. I'm interested in the movie solely from its role-playing stand-point.
That's right. I'm gonna write a tiny bit about role-playing in EVE. Buckle your seat belts.
Harry: So basically, your lying your ass off the whole time. See, I can't do that.Say hello to the mot ironic exchange in a movie chock full of ironic exchanges. Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger's character) works for an intelligence agency. He's worked for this agency for longer than he's been married to his wife, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis, visibly having an absolute ball with her part), something like 15 years. He has to lie to his wife about what he actually does for a living, and has been doing so successfully for the full length of his marriage.
Simon: What are you, a boy scout? No, no, no, think of it as playing a role as fantasy.
But because of both this and the demands of his job, he's not a very good husband. He suspects his wife is having an affair with Simon (Bill Paxton, in one of the two roles that pushed him out of the supporting cast and into leading roles the very next year). He resists the impulse to immediately destroy this guy long enough to get to know him, even having lunch with him all the while lying even more about the pretense that brought them together. Harry's life is full of lies.
And yet, here he is claiming that he can't do that even in the midst of doing it. ;-)
But here's the kicker: Simon has wormed his way into Helen's affections by claiming to be an intelligence agent! Harry's partner, Gib (Tom Arnold, also having an absolute ball) worries aloud to Harry "The guy's a spook. He could be working her to get to you!" The worry turns out to be unfounded; Simon is actually a used car salesman. In one of the great ironies of the movie, Simon receives his comeuppance for his lies not once, but twice.
Harry doesn't receive a comeuppance at all, despite being involved in much, much bigger lies over a much longer period. In fact, the exact opposite happens: he's greatly rewarded for his lies.
Anyone who doesn't see how this connects to EVE Online hasn't been paying attention. ;-)
In Kael's blog, he points out that playing EVE gives you choices, among them (edited for clarity):
- You want to be a pirate, so you get a Rifter and head to low sec.
- You want to post contracts to scam other player out of their ISK... well, sheep are meant to be fleeced.
- You want to use your elected CSM position to create a false sense of security to scam anyone foolish enough to trust you as an intermediary on super-cap transactions.
But of course, there are others that play EVE differently, and make those choices every day. Outside of the game, EVE players are lovely people. Inside of the game, more often than not, all of us are out to inflict pain, misery, and suffering on our fellow EVE players, some more directly than others. This happens every time someone is scammed out of billions of ISK or has billions of ISK taken out of a corporation or personal wallet. It happens every time a billion ISK hauler is ganked in high-sec. It happens every time a mining op is smart-bombed, or freighters are conned into null-sec to be destroyed, or a recruitment scam is successfully pulled off. Hell, EVE players inflict pain, misery, and suffering even when there's no direct benefit to be gained from it, by popping AFK pods in high-sec or seeming to care about another player in an in-game convo while secretly laughing up your sleeve at him.
I mentioned the new GSF recruiting drive the other day, and that recruiting post is full of ways and means of inflicting this suffering, whether for material gain or not. It's a core component of how a lot of people play this game.
The question every EVE player has to ask themselves (often, more than once) is how far they're personally willing to go. I've seen otherwise wonderful human beings inflict massive losses on other players through notorious scams. I've also seen truly annoying, anti-social people who nevertheless say that they could never do something like this. We all decide where our personal dividing line is and how far we're individually willing to go.
Some players flatly say that their morals will never allow them to act like dicks, even in a video game. Others cheerfully separate their real life from their EVE life and see no reason to connect the two, and become confused if you try to. And a third (and to me, most interesting) group would never plan such actions... but if they're suddenly entrusted with hundreds of billions of ISK in assets... welllll...
And in True Lies fashion, it's nearly always the worst deceivers among us that are most rewarded, with little or no comeuppance for their actions.
P.S. A list of the most common EVE scams and how to avoid them can be found in this forum thread.