Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Final blow

I'd like to expand briefly on my post this morning, to make sure something important doesn't get lost.

Any time anyone -- game developer, blogger, pod-caster, CSM member, video creator, whatever -- puts themselves out in public to have their stuff played, read, viewed, or judged, they take a risk.  And the blow-back on such creative efforts can be brutal.  The article I posted this morning pointed at the gamer culture and how harsh and unrelenting we can collectively be.  Well, the EVE culture is to the gamer culture as gamer culture is to the rest of humanity.  While some EVE players are the nicest people I've ever met, others...

Let's be blunt: a few of you out there -- not many, but a few -- are disgusting, sadistic grotesques lacking the most basic human qualities of empathy and compassion.  And you take a perverse joy in that fact.  You get off on being nasty.  You get off on crushing the dreams and creative work of others.  "That's EVE," this group will say when confronted about it.  "Harden the fuck up!"

EVE positively attracts such people, and we'd be kidding ourselves to think otherwise.

I pointed at the Penny Arcade Report take on this subject earlier today:
How bad did it get? "Efforts, too, were made to track down and harass my family, including my two school-age sisters. After one particular round of rape threats, including the suggestion that, for criticising neo-liberal economic policy-making, I should be made to fellate a row of bankers at knife-point, I was informed that people were searching for my home address. I could go on," she explained.

That's the cost of the attitude that this is just something that you have to endure if you hope to be a creative mind today.
That's also something that anyone involved in any aspect of EVE also has to endure.  Hell, that list of threats seems tame and common-place relative to some of what happens in this game.  CCP usually does what they can to stem the madness, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Net result?  From time to time, we lose people who put themselves out in public to this community.  And there's never ever a single cause around why that happens.  It's always a pattern of abuse endured over a long period of time.  Don't kid yourself thinking that there's ever a single thing that drives people away from developing for this game, writing about this game, or creating content within this game.  Anyone who does this -- whether CCP employee, community fan-site, or just a fan of EVE -- endures a constant stream of low- and medium-level abuse... which often escalates to high-level abuse if they show any weakness to it.

Sometimes, these people decide "screw this noise" and leave.  And then the dancing begins over the grave.  "Good!" some will say, "You were always an idiot!"  But a few will express confusion.  "You're leaving over that?  That was nothing!  Harden the fuck up!"

I assure you that in almost every case, anyone who has signed up to put themselves out in public has -- by definition -- a pretty thick skin.

But as we've learned in EVE over the years, even the thickest shield tank can be broken, even the thickest armor buffer can be worn down.  And just as in EVE, sooner or later there's a final blow that silences that developer, blogger, pod-caster, CSM member, video creator, or whatever.  The final blow might not be the shot that did the most damage.  It just happened to be the one that broke that final bit of structure and generated the kill-mail.



  1. I totally agree and put myself and my game developer related product out there in public for a living.

    That being said Phil Fish just happens to be one of the bullying types you talk about and is perfectly happy to trash people he has never met and have nothing to do with him. For him to be claiming to be the poster child of creatives who got bullied out of the business is more than a bit ironic.

    That said you Jester, are not a jerk, so please keep posting, it's appreciated.

  2. My grandparents generation had a saying: if you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all.

    It appears that this hyper-connected and superficial world has done little to encourage empathy among some who hide behind anonymous posting.

    If anything, it has released them from any immediate awareness of the impact it has on the person concerned, and it enables the like minded to congregate in celebration of their combined electronic bullying.

    To use a sporting adage, play the ball not the man. Disagree with what is posted by all means. Come back with logical and valid reasons as to why. I suspect most bloggers LOVE a good discussion, even when they're proven to be incorrect.

    Drop the name calling and childish ranting. It serves no purpose apart from illustrating exactly how mature you are. Or not. And for heaven's sake, if you're going to post drop the anonymity. Don't you at least have the intestinal fortitude to stand up for your own opinion?

    If you've never made a mistake, you've obviously not lived. Bloggers have and continue to do so - and in the public eye no less. A much braver stance than any anon post.

    While bloggers do this with at least some awareness of the likelihood of attracting some negativity, but there is still a living, breathing and feeling human being behind the keyboard.

    Don't forget it.

  3. The part that frustrates me the most is the casual way people will hurl insults and threats.

    I was flying through The Bleak Lands the other day, and saw a Crow named Digger Nick, flying around with a Condor named C**bucket. These pilots were flying around in offensively named ships, and their entire thought process about it was probably 'Dirty words, hurr hurr.'

    And the most frustrating part is that these people, including those pilots I mentioned earlier, are just normal people, usually riding a 5-minute hate indulgence, with their brain left far behind in the dust.

    1. I just wanted to say that I like your silver Amarr logo.


      Good post too, Ripard.

  4. Require people to sign up with and use their real names if you want to avoid that sort of shit. For some reason, people are much less likely to act like douches when they can't hide behind an anonymous pseudonym.

    1. Says the guy who is posting anonymously...

      Sorry, I couldn't resist. ;)

    2. Everyone complaining about how "oh my the internet has made us all horrible" has no perspective. People were just as petty and just as much assholes to each other in ye olden days, and if not anonymously then certainly deniably. The only thing that's changed with the advent of modern technology is the method. Oh, and the remarkable lack of actual real life damage. All that occurs on the internet is an exchange of electrons from one computer to another, and all that's damaged are your ohhhhh so fragile "feels." HTFU. Not just in EVE, everywhere else too.

      Maybe it's some aspect of your ideals that you regard everyone's opinion as being worth something, or valid in some way. Let the hate flow through you, and laugh at the morons for being morons. Seriously.

    3. Less likely, yes. Completely unlikely, no. A small percentage of several hundred thousand (or in the case of some popular internet creative types, several million) people is still a fairly large number.

      Oh, and now those people have your real name.

    4. Counterpoint: "Efforts, too, were made to track down and harass my family, including my two school-age sisters."

      Not all of us want to be openly available to angry internet trolls.

  5. Console yourself in the knowledge that if you meet these puerile trolls in RL, they will most likely ask you, "Do you want fries with that, sir?"

  6. I know it's hard to deal with the trolls. They're mean. They're mercilessly mean, and they do hate you. They genuinely do. But really, they hate themselves even more. Why do you think they're so fucking angry? Not saying it excuses their behavior, but it certainly explains it. Nobody spits such vitriol without having a lot of hate for their own self swimming around inside.

    How does one deal with it even when they attempt to "dox" you or track you down? One way is to use a pseudonym. If you really just want to get a message across, or create a game, or just do something neat for the world and get paid (or not, whatever) then just don't use your real name. Hide as much information as possible to the public. If it's not about your ego and wanting fame, pseudonyms do the job just fine.

    The other option is to realize that 99.99999999999999999999% of these threat-spitting jackasses are ITGs. Internet Tough Guys. They won't. Do. Shit. I can't count the number of times I've had people threaten me over the internet and only responded "Do it." I've even met some of them in real life afterwards at a gathering like a convention, stood in front of them, and said "OK, here I am. Do your worst, tough guy. C'mon." They couldn't even throw an insult, much less a punch. Most of them quite literally bow their heads, mumble an excuse, and try to avoid me. Not very impressive for guys who reassured me that when they saw me they'd stomp a mudhole in me. Keep in mind I'm not a big, intimidating guy either. I just project that I do not fear them at all and they realize it.

    They are by and large cowards. They haven't done anything with their lives, they just threaten other people who have out of jealousy and self-loathing. Make it clear to them you're on to their game, and play your game smarter than them.

  7. I know that the thought of some crazy wacko going after me even just over the internet influences how I write and makes me more cautious.

    I had a small harmless episode of stalking once. It definitely makes you reconsider what you do in this game.

  8. EVE [Internet] is what happens when you can say whatever you want without the threat of someone punching you in the nose.

  9. Ye olden days? Perspective? Real life damage? Put some of the typical sick chatroom invective on paper two hundred years ago and you'd find yourself in a hayfield at dawn with a dueling pistol in your hand. And it was legal. That real-life enough for you?

  10. I'm really struggling with this.

    It's not just EVE, it's essentially any community-based (generally competitive) game I've played. Having said that, EVE can be pretty bad.

    What's really grating on me is /WHY/ certain people think it's okay to say these kinds of things? I mean, sure, I've heard the "it's only the internet, it's not real, why are you getting so offended" perspective a thousand times over (usually by people that are just as likely to tell someone to "kill yourself" [not referencing anything in particular]) - an argument that has its own problems - but while I can see at least a glimmer of reason in not getting too upset over something you can literally switch off, what I can't get my head around is the thought process involved in actually formulating these kinds of .. interactions(?) in ones mind.

    What the fuck makes you think it's alright to say this kind of thing to another person? What's the actual procedure your mind goes through when reasoning that the sick, disgusting, inhumane things you're about to say are acceptable in /ANY/ way, in /ANY/ circumstances whatsoever? How do you actually reach that point?

    To be totally honest, the first few times I'd encountered that kind of thing, I was pretty happy to just brush it off as having encountered a particularly deranged individual. But this kind of shit /started/ somewhere, and /became/ commonplace. WHY? HOW?

    These are honest questions, by the way, because for the life of me I can't work it out. I'm leaning toward the idea that there's a kind of 'safety' in online anonymity that enables(?) these people to act this way.. but surely that's not all there is to it? I'm not a completely messed up, sick excuse of a human being while I'm online (or anywhere else for that matter), so surely I - along with everyone else that can actually interact with people as civil, respectable human beings (even while plotting to blow up your ship and steal all your stuff) - am proof that the safety in anonymity is only partially the issue?

    Anyone have any other ideas on this?

    1. TL;DR - Because it's easy. Because they can.

      Longer answer (and prefaced with an all imho qualifier), you're looking at society moving away from a physical location community base to a media driven and online one.

      Humans by nature seek company. And preferably like minded company at that. We look to connect with and reinforce our own world view, not to mention our self worth (see! I wuz right!!) by consuming news media that in this age is tailored specifically for us.

      Don't believe me? Look at Fox news (or not) as an example. Look at the advertisements played for specific demographics on that channel. Look at the people fronting the channel. Now, who as a general rule would be watching Fox?

      The internet comes into play at this point. It enables people to seek out any media they like and join in any community they want, wherever that may be. It's something of a two edged sword.

      You no longer have to play with all the kids up and down the street (even that slightly strange Johnny kid, who actually turns out to be OK and will be your best friend through school). You log on instead and join up with, say a group of kind, book loving nerds... or a group of people for whom calling someone a poo poo head is the highlight of their day.

      It enables a degree of connectedness in a way that was not possible before, and it enables those individuals who would have been ostracized in the past to get together and indulge in behaviors that would not be tolerated otherwise.

      There is also the peer pressure/herd mentality part of the equation too. We are a product of the media we consume and the society we choose to take part in.

      It takes a degree of self awareness to understand what you are a part of and to make your own conscious choices rather than consume that media blindly and think that's what the world is.

      As an example: reporting is coming through that teenagers are letting porn shape their view of whats "normal" in the bedroom. Porn is becoming increasingly violent towards women. Teenagers are advising they are starting to do things neither party is comfortable with.... because that's what's "normal"...

      Another: you're too fat, not pretty enough, not powerful enough, don't drive the right car, earn the right money. Body image issues among women (and increasingly men) thinking that airbrushed and photo shopped perfection is normal is driving rates of steroid abuse and anorexia.

      But possibly the most insidious are programs that show people being hurt, all to the sound of a laughter track. The glorification of violence. Kill. Maim. Destroy your opponent. And in the most graphic ways possible. Video that school fight where the bully annihilates his victim. Post it all over youtube and facebook.

      Without putting too fine a point on it - it's driving a lack of empathy. And without a degree of empathy, you're not going to try to understand a person different to you, who perhaps has a different opinion, stance, or even frame of reference.

      Now add the connectedness of the internet to the mix... insta troll.

      I'm sure someone with a sociology or psychology degree could argue these points in a far better fashion.

      To bring things back to EvE, going to leave you with a thought - would the Goons have been as powerful twenty year ago?

  11. /Story time/

    I was getting trolled in middle school frequently. I asked my Father for advice:

    "Deal with it in an escalating nature. Do exactly as your school's policy asks. First take it to the teacher that you share a class with."

    I took the issue to my teacher, she said she would handle it, she did not.

    "Take it to the school counselor"

    I took the issue to my school counselor, who once again insisted that it would be handled. I also, on advice from my father, requested a written note signed with letterhead, indicating as much. Nothing happened to stop it.

    "Take it to the school principle. This time, tell him that if they [school administrators] don't handle the situation promptly, that you will do it personally"

    I took it directly to the principle. Once again I got a written letter signed saying that they would stop the troll from trolling me. Following the pattern described above, nothing really happened other than to incite the troll to simply increase and augment his trolling behavior, because my seeking to inhibit this behavior by going to authority figures was seen as a weakness.

    "Son, you've exhausted all options with school administrators and policies in place. Deal with it, by any means necessary, you have my 100% support."

    Let me stop at this point and be clear, this Troll was about 8 inches taller than me and had a good 50 pounds on me. He was by all rights and accounts, a scary individual. The very next day, he started trolling me again, in the middle of the hallways. This was 7th grade. Having exhausted all other options, I was finally fed up with his trolling, I took my masterlock, attached to my lanyard, wrapped it around my fist, and proceeded to beat him bloody. The troll had to go to the hospital and have surgery.

    The school brought my parents in for a conference before punishment was levied. My Father gave them the letters dated over a span of several weeks indicating that the school and district would take appropriate actions to limit and stop the trolling.

    My "punishment" was a very public 5-day out of school suspension that never went on my school record, the district convinced the parents of the troll not to press charges against me, my family, or the school. And my parents agreed not to sue the school for criminal negligence.

    I was never seriously trolled again. When I transitioned from grade school to High School, a new set of jocks and trolls joined our class. One day at lunch early in my freshman year, one of the new Trolls decided that it would be fun to make fun of me at Lunch (I preferred to sit by myself and read a book). Several other jocks who were in my class from grade school went out their way, publicly and loudly, to stand up in the middle of lunch hour, in front of everyone, to say to the new guy "Don't mess with him. We don't tolerate trolls" This had never happened before. After that, more privately, one of the jocks came up to me later, apologized for that particular troll's actions, and excused the way they paraphrased 'we don't tolerate trolls'. Clearly it was done for image purposes, but acknowledged that I don't tolerate trolls.

    TL;DR. Trolls understand one thing. Being embarrassed, whether that's physically or emotionally. They wither and die with perceived strength of character.

    To this day, whether it's some anonymous EVE troll or someone in real life who I know through work, or socially, I deal with them with strength of character, and I back it up with force if necessary.

    You just have to accept that you can either do what it takes to make it stop, or stay out of the way.

    Ctrl f, Replace all, "Troll" with "Bully"

  12. Unless you are a hermit, living in a cave, it really doesn't matter - you'll always run into harassment, a**holes, trolls, bullies, even death threats, etc. - from the day you are born, to the day you die. EVE is no better, and no worse, than any other activity in life, and you'd be pretty silly to expect otherwise.

    The best we can do is to damn the torpedoes and plow through, learning to separate the noise from the real threats - ignoring the former and protecting ourselves against the latter . Throwing in the towel really achieves nothing - each time you give up when you run into a wall, you simply set up a pattern of behavior where you'll give up even faster when the next incident occurs.

    Take the creators of South Park. They receive threats daily, incl. some very serious ones from very dangerous people... yet they have not backed down from doing what they do. Some say it is courage; some say it is foolishness - but, honestly, what other choice is there? You either do what you do, or you might as well put the gun to your own head and pull the trigger.

  13. Thank you, thank you, for this post. I tried posting a comment in response, but found I had more to say than was appropriate for a comment. :)

    So a ranted at http://reverendmak.com/2013/08/online-hate . Short version: this phenomenon is real and non-trivial, and appears in all fields, not just the spergy world of gamerdom.


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