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...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Grudge match

As I've mentioned a time or two, I have a major tent-pole post coming around one of the big reasons why I think EVE has struggled to find a mass audience over the last few years. I expect that post to spark a lot of conversations and arguments (and not a little bit of yelling at me, tbqh). But as I edit and tweak and refine that post, I keep seeing unnecessary tangents in it. These tangents make that post less focused and so I have to "murder my darlings" and cut them out.

For anyone thinking about your own blog or your own writing: writing is 50% writing. The rest is rewriting and editing, rewriting and editing, over and over again. Some of the posts you read here go through weeks of this.

Anyway, I decided one of the tangents I'm cutting is an interesting philosophical point of its own that deserves its own short post. Why is it that EVE Online promotes a culture of holding grudges?

You see this again and again in EVE Online culture and it's not something that I can recall seeing in the cultures of other video games. In particular, I've had my nose rubbed in it recently with Rote Kapelle's move to Providence. We have a couple of pilots with poor histories with Provibloc... and for one of those players, the history was almost a decade old. And yet, it was brought up as what was apparently intended to be a major, compelling reason why Rote Kapelle should not be allowed anywhere near Providence.

More or less: your dog crapped on my lawn ten years ago. Therefore, I'm going to despise you forever.

This sort of thing happens in EVE all the time: players and groups and corps and alliances and EVE websites and even EVE developers(!) nurturing and nursing and committing to memory years-old slights. They hold them and remember them and wait for years for an opportunity to drag them into the light again. And then when the opportunity comes, they are triumphantly spun out as moral victories to be cherished. It really is kind of amazing. Why do people associated with this game do this to themselves and each other?

Human history is filled with this sort of thing, of course. A funny obscure story about Neil Armstrong comes to mind. His biographer, James Hansen, recounts that when Armstrong visited Langholm, Scotland in 1972, the town's justice of the peace jokingly read from a 400-year-old law still on the books requiring him to hang any Armstrong found within the town limits! That's a funny example, but there are hundreds of examples less humorous. Nurturing ancient grudges is probably the saddest part of the human heritage. It extends from ancient times thousands of years old to the present day. One need only look to the middle east, or to China and Japan, to see it.

But EVE is supposed to be a video game... you know... recreation... fun.

Is holding a grudge against someone who stole a battleship from your corp in 2005 fun?

Now granted, EVE is a game where loss usually has a cost in money or time. And granted, many corps and groups in this game have shown the ability to get past old slights (my favorite example of this is Executive Outcomes; check out where they used to live, then check out where they live now). But nurturing old slights is the default state of anyone associated with this game. Even a mere minor loss of face -- with no in-game loss at all! -- can result in simmering grudges and hatreds which are remembered for years.

Why is that, do you think? Discuss.


  1. Jester ur talking about the cva robetards they never forget. For every corp that remembers every slight against them and holds a grudge there is a pirate corp with no blues and reds in fleet

    1. This is definitely NOT just about CVA. Every corp, every alliance, every player, every person associated with EVE does this sooner or later. Mittens spins out decades-old enemy lists nearly every GSF CEO update, to use another example.

    2. I've told you a million times, don't exaggerate!

    3. When CCP built this game they built it to be dark, thus you get all the darker traits of humanity, from dictatorship to spite. The fact that it's a game enhances this, who would want to live their live this way, and I know there are a few who do but most don't. The dark in EVE allows it's players to be faster and looser than they normally would want to.

    4. Except Test. We are, to date, the only alliance in cfc that left on our own terms. He's trying to write us out, even when people like xystance gave him a place to stay during fan fest. Horrible house guest.

      Now it's down to leaving us out of the SOTA, name dropping guys who aren't causing the same damage ATM.

      The only thing that bothers me is how easily spin works. Either people are very stupid, or no one believes it and the CFC I'd basically pragmatic with a storyteller in charge.

  2. Its the butterfly effect.
    Someone stole a battleship from you 10 years ago.
    That theft blew a hole in your accounts.
    Over 10 years, opportunities were missed out on because of that missing battleship. Then, a further generation of opportunities were missed out on due to failing to capitalize on those that would have been generated by the missing battleship.
    Result - you can NEVER catch up. Therefore, the theft should NEVER be forgiven. Just because you are incapable of appreciating the magnitude of their losses doesn't make them 'lesser human beings' or 'irrational' simply because they possess a memory.

    If you screw someone over, you screw them over for life. Accept it, Buckwheat.

  3. I like holding grudges, but on a pure gameplay level, not on a personal level. I think that goes for most grudges in Eve.

    But I also still have players from first corp in my watchlist and occasionally check on them, see how they're doing.

  4. I had gotten pretty sick about the grudges while playing previous MMOs, so when I started playing EVE I decided give up on drama and grudges and just have fun while playing. I think I have managed to do quite well in that, but then again I am not involved in PvP scene beyond avoiding getting ganked.
    Now outside EVE, there I can hold grudges - even though to hold them I actually have to imagine stuff to get them going. But at least I am capable of it.

  5. omg ur silly sometimes, Jester. Everyone wants a 'foil*'...this game is practically built on the assumption of the boogeyman.


    1. "Papa" Monzano, he's so very bad
      But without bad "Papa" I would be so sad;
      Because without "Papa's" badness,
      Tell me, if you would,
      How could wicked old Bokonon
      Ever, ever look so good?"

      -- Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

  6. I refute that it only happens in eve. Personal grudges (aka drama) is in many MMOs. WoW had it hardcore. Primary difference is that unlike other MMOs, eve is not policed by the GMs. A character can empty the coffers and get away with it. That doesn't usually happen else where as you file a complaint and the GMs usually did it for you.

    However, I still hate alliance players simply because my 1st wow character was an undead Warlock.

    To hate is an emotional response that our body uses to protect itself from some thing or someone that can/did cause us harm/stress. Without the ability.to hold grudges many thieves and generally bad people would benefit.

    Political races are win simply on making you remember how much you hated the other guys and to hold a grudge so they dont get back in power.

    Many grudges are bad, yes. But they still serve to help protect us. Being unable to move on from something insignificant that didn't really cause any real problems however, is unhealthy.

    At least that's my opinion.

  7. Holding grudges doesn't just happen in EVE. The same thing used to happen in EverQuest, where your reputation on your server was important. Even in World of Warcraft, if someone got a reputation as a ninja you can be sure that those affected weren't going to ever let him in a group ever again.

  8. Content, You've got to shoot someone so it makes sense to have a system that gives you an emotional investment in blowing up that target.

    Speaking of which didn't I say hello to you in Local once and you didn't reply?

    Grrr Jester!

  9. I think part of the reason for the long-term fermenting of bile is that there have historically been very few in-game ways of getting back at someone who wrongs you. You're rarely in a position to harm them back directly - interestingly, stand-up fights tend to be very amicable - so what to do?

    War dec? They jump to an NPC corp, or sit ship spinning whilst you waste your money.
    Stick a bounty on their head? Until recently, their buddy would just pop them for it.
    Hire mercs? You pay them many times the losses they inflict, if they inflict any at all.
    Send them a nastygram? They repost the tears for the amusement of others.
    Out corp theives on the forums? The character gets resold to a naive innocent 3rd party or biomassed.

    In every case, there's no way to get back at someone without spending way more time and effort than it took them to harm you in the first place. The only way you can is by holding that grudge and hoping that one day you will be in a position to exact vengeance when they least expect it. 99% of the time that day never comes, so many players end up with an ever growing list of "enemies" that can never be crossed off.

    Transferable kill rights and sensible bounty payments are a good step in the right direction, but there is more that can be done to give people to tools to get back at wrongdoers in game. For instance:

    Get ganked? Get (single-use) killrights on ganker's entire corp. Their CEO won't be too happy when someone gets a free revenge-gank of a high value target.
    Corp theif/AWOXer? Previous CEOs get to write a reference, permanently attached to career history.
    Remove ability to biomass alts with negative sec status and/or active bounty
    Corp/Alliance-level bounties
    Overhaul corp roles interface to make it to organize and run a corporation in EVE than in real life, rather than far more difficult.

    I could go on. None of these things are particularly game-breaking, and would create many new opportunities for interaction. Making recruitment easier is, particularly, key to retaining newer players, who often go through several new corps in a few months as they look for a playstyle that suits them. It's currently very hard to determine who is legit and who is an AWOX/theif alt, as CEOs (somewhat understandably) rarely respond to requests for references either way.

    TL;DR version: There are few in-game ways to get back at assholes quickly, so revenge must be served cold years down the line. More avenues to retribution = fewer long-term grudges.

  10. I would argue grudges persist because players often have limited recourse when stringed by another. Knowledge that hurting another may trigger a long and punitive grudge is one of the few checks on anti-social behaviour. Note that this would be more effective at linking corp theft or betraying allies than say, preying on newbies due to the potential for consequences.

  11. I think part of it is that a lot of times it has to do with trust. If someone stole a battleship from your corp ten years ago, how do you know that he won't do something like that again?

  12. holding grudges is fun. Hate is easy and comes naturally, thats why so many people do it.

  13. It IS strange. I wonder if this is a convergence of events/circumstances/human nature.

    First human nature naturally wants to hold grudges. It's not without accident that the new testament tells us to forgive and not be jealous - if it came naturally, it wouldn't bother telling us.

    Second, it seems that in many instances where long-standing grudges occur, it because one or more "aggrieved" parties feel like they have never had justice. In the real world, an aggrieved party can call the cops or take someone to court.

    In Eve, there is no judicial system. And with EVE basically being on "hard mode" from the start, losing something usually means losing something that you worked to get (unless you scammed or stole it, then, w/e). Add to that the culture of EVE that relishes tears, and you get people who laugh at other's misfortune.

    So we have a) No real justice to have restitution for our losses b) people laughing at your misfortune, and - let's face the facts - c) thousands of players whose worldview doesn't include forgiveness or loving your enemies ala the Sermon on the Mount.

    ...of course we'd hold grudges. That's human nature.

    Maybe if the game wasn't set to "hard-no-fun-here" mode, folks wouldn't get so touchy about slights. I dunno.


  14. There's a story Hilmar often uses to explain the nature of Eve Online to audiences, when he's speaking. It's a story from the early days of Eve, when Hilmar was on paternity leave and he was playing Eve Online as a player, not as a developer. While playing, he borrowed an expensive ship (to him, at that time) from a friend and he subsequently lost it due to his own fault - and he felt very upset about that. The loss felt real.. it was real, even though it was just pixels. Eve can surely feel real, in some ways, especially when you lose stuff, fun, or time you intended (or needed) to spend recreationally until someone decided to spoil it for you (no work stress relief for you buddy!)

    So when someone in Eve Online scams you, betrays you, griefs you, promises to 'ruin your game', then that affects you way more than, say, losing a game of minesweeper.

    1. Yeah, I've heard Hilmar tell that story.

      But in the truly EVE version of the story, the friend vows bloody vengeance instead of just accepting his ship back. ;-)

  15. It's a game ultimately about blowing up ships and structures, and these are the only two things the game allows a player or group to own. In the back of every EVE player's mind must the concern that at any moment, these things can be taken away by other players, and *only* by other players. Underlying that fear is the additional worry that one will never see it coming, and that one will end up looking dumb for not having spotted that terminal threat. Who is the most likely awoxer? Someone who has stalked you in the past, probably with a grudge of his/her own.

    You have to be a bit paranoid to play, and the most likely players to try to take your stuff are those who are known takers of stuff. Holding grudges is the only sane way to try to build the temporary virtual empires the game allows, the alternative being a go-to-hell cowboy attitude unlikely to make and hold big ISK/fleets/sov.

    Oh, yes, EVE players hold grudges. It's a way to ensure we never forget who our enemies are, or were, or could be again two minutes from now.

  16. Human nature man, this kind of thing is as old as time...

  17. In EVE, an important part of a player's identity is what corp or alliance they are in. If someone hurts that identity then a grudge will usually form. The more egregious that insult or injury is, the stronger the grudge is.

    Another way of saying it is that we define ourselves by the enemies we make and the clique we are in. Situation normal for us mere humans =)

  18. I doubt that it's peculiar to EVE. It's just more visible in a game world that's unified, persistent, and really old.

    Hell, I still remember the name of the guy ("Sum Ting Wong") that first ran the "bleedout" hack in Homefront, and that was almost three years ago. And I still wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire.

  19. Boreom is a fantastic catalyst for bringing up old bs. EVE is boring. There's little debate about that. With lots of boredom and guns comes the occasional decision to shoot something. Naturally somebody will ask why are they shooting at "X", and a quick excuse might be chucked in for the masses. After spending the last few hours spinning in a station any excuse will sound good and old "grudges" work great. Nobody actually cares, but it makes for fun story time. You'd be willing to kill vegetarians over the slaughter of veggies if it meant having something to actually do.

    Odds are that a spy found out about it and nobody will be there anyway. EVE isn't about the game. It's about talking about the game. There's really no reason to play it.

    1. "I stoped a slaughter of turnips by killing five men in a rage."

      Sorry, it's all I could think of when you mentioned killing over veggies; I hope you don't hold a grudge. :)


  20. The opposite is true to. I helped a new player out a few years back. I barely remembered who it was or what I did to help. Years later, she sends me a note. Apparently she saw me in some fleet or another, remembered my character and thought enough to send me a short 'thankyou' note.

    Also, I was once involved in a minor null sec battle. Reds had me locked and primaried, (my character's name shows up near the top sorted alphabetically) but strangely, I wasn't dying. Turns out a former corp mate from the first corp I flew with, was in a logi on the other side and 'accidentally' targeted me when I was called primary.

    Yes, folks hold grudges. But people remember the good you do as well.

  21. Few games have such an us via them Dinamic where we choose who is us and who is them.
    Furthermore corps drive this. Goons have never done anything to me but are identified as them and we hate them

  22. Not always true, Sir mole alt is in PL and both were quite the ennemies in the past, Makalu too is in PL.

    Test got some fleet lead by progodlegend during the fountain war not a years before they took delve to them. Or the Fountain citizen ally with test against goon for a few fleet.

    I'm quite sure there is a ton of other example were ennemies get together to achieve a goal. And that's where it became interesting! Holding grudge is quite easy and doesn't require a lot of effort but in eve you get event that put a bridge and make old ennemies work together to achieve a goal.

  23. Video games exists so people can do what they wanted to do but can not in real life. For some, it is about fighting in dangerous situations, for others, it is about hate.

    Eve online is the only game on market where it is good and proper to hate and be hated. It is also the few games where group identity drives the game and generate success and that identity can be built on hate as well. The game selects for players that have these traits.

    Hatred is fun, and revenge is more fun.

  24. It's fun. It's also the biggest motivator in the game. It gives you a goal and a test of power. Bob killed me... I could shrug and buy a new ship.... or I could bide my time and then grind him under my boot for the crime of crossing my. One is a lot more interesting then the other.

  25. Two factors: EVE at an organization level is a game of trust with inadequate control mechanics which places a lot of weight on reputation and leaders need causes to motivate members, build community, and drive loyalty which an enemy/foil lends.

    It may not also be so much that the grudge remains as it becomes part of the characters identity and how the player relates to the game. Goons hate Bob/IT not now because of any original slight but because in became an identity

  26. Eve just is a lot more fun if you hate/deride/gently mock your enemies/peers/rivals. Why do you think you dislike mittens so much, Ripard? You're a grudgeholder and a human being.

    1. It's funny that a lot of people think I dislike Mittens. I don't. I don't know him well enough to dislike him. He and I have actually had three or four longish conversations, including one hour-long convo by voice chat. He seems like a nice enough guy.

      I sometimes dislike Goon leadership policy, and I certainly don't care for some aspects of how TMC is run. But those aren't the same thing.

  27. When I was two months old an older and very experienced character utilized game mechanics I did not understand at the time that allowed him to destroy my first battleship. This person still plays today and is well known (No, not you). The fact that I was a two month old character who had absolutely zero right flying a battleship is immaterial. All I know is that asshole will die by my hands at some point - and when he does it will not be even remotely fair. This will happen because I've always hated bullies, and in the end that's all he is. I have no doubt he's forgotten all about me, but he's a permanent fixture on my watch list and always will be. It's probably the reason I still play this stupid game. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

    1. Yup. I'd say you're the default EVE player. ;-)

  28. Jester, I can personally attest that it doesn't happen just here in EVE.

    Story time:

    There was a game called SWG. Back in 2004 I made a stupid, harmless offhand remark about something someone created to do with some kind of art. It was an opinion based on what was probably a half-sober observation (knowing how I was at the time...). This person apparently took that stupid comment quite personally, as an insult.

    Six years later they bring it up offhandedly as a way to try to derail a rather serious conversation I was having with somebody that wasn't even apart of the original discussion years prior.

    They held a grudge. About pixel art.

    For six years.

    I forgot what I had originally said about a week after I said it, because really, my opinion about pixel art is about as complex and meaningful as your typical discussion on twitter. They didn't. Nope. They stewed on it with the seething rage of a thousand suns for six long years.

    Fuck me, I don't have that kind of energy to spare, but others do and they don't just play EVE. I have no idea why they do it, either. Some people seem incapable of handling things any other way when it comes to the internet.

    1. Thank you for sharing this story! As I said, I've not run into it in other games but my experience with some other games *is* fairly limited.

  29. eve-offline.net is not reporting service availability, I'm struggling to load the eve-forums even with openDNS and the client is timing out after character selection. What's going on?

    1. https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=326121
      Just in case it helps my favourite enemies. Don't bother trying to use Chrome even to view the forums if you are blighted by this issue.

  30. Holding long term grudges is, from an evolutionary standpoint, is as old as the hills. Dawkin's 'selfish gene' provides the mechanism for the survival advantage. Witness also that chimps hold grudges too. When viewed in this light, is it really surprising that humans will bring their innate survival instincts to the virtual world as well?

  31. Yes, this is true. When I start at eve, late 2004, there were a group of players that despise, harass and hunt me because I was playing as mining and build. Now one of them is back to eve, and in my alliance. Even almost 10 year has passed, but every time I see his name on the chat channel, I am felling a certain hate. It is hard to forget when it happens to you..

  32. I don't get it, Ripard. If you think this is a problem why are you moving to provi to begin with? The grandfathers of eternal grudge holding of Eve. Sure, if there was a tournament based on this there would be serious contenders all around, but CVA would win every single time. Professional, you see?

    1. Lack of other options? ;-)

      Seriously, I stated the reasons for my personal belief that Provi was the best place for us in my previous post on the matter.

    2. From a long time Provi Resident, those are stereotypes.

      First, Providence is not just CVA, there are other holding alliances in here.

      Second, I´m assuming your talking about the KOS list, which does not directly equate to "grudge" (Yes, there a few real grudges I think -- aka SOUND), but the KOS list gives us PvP content and it´s basically a must with NRDS, we don´t want to shot the poor guy in a Venture trying it´s feet into null-sec for the first time, like others would do.

      Third, there are ways to get off the "grudge" list, but some never learn.. and still use Provi as their personal hunting ground again and again, so perma KOS, I think that is pretty straightforward to understand.

  33. Grudge = "content"

  34. Jester, when you shake a tin cup, some of us are generous. You yourself have some idea just how much this can amount to. Have a look at the Angel Project as well. Then realise that yes, this game has some bottom feeding scum. But also some very decent folk happy to help out.

    So, the glass was half empty today, eh?

    1. You raise a very good point. And I think it might be interesting to write a post about all the ways in which EVE players are good people.

      That said, I'm still talking about the *default* state of EVE players, which is something else again.

  35. I will tell you why. Because it wasnt a dog an he didnt simply shat on your lawn. It was you, and probably killed people. In real life if you would get stabbed by someone you would never let that person into your house. Thats all.

  36. Yes, good. Use your aggressive feelings boy.

  37. It would seem one of Bad Bobby's alts has been outed in the market discussion forum. He was paid handsomely for his reputation so it would be unwise to give him the opportunity to come back for seconds however Bad Bobby himself seems like an ok kind of chap but then again he has never had any of my isk.

  38. I played FFXI for years, and there were huge grudges, then I played Aion for years and there were tons of grudges in that also most were in the same faction.

    Have to ask, have you played other MMO's Ripard? Because there are grudges in pretty much any MMO(that isn't an arena style game), unless there is an abundance of anything desirable(which there never is).

  39. I'm guessing the word you can describe those kind of people is:


  40. I'm guessing the word you can describe those kind of people is:


    a Freelancer

  41. I think that it is at core a form of role-playing, although most players would never admit to that word. We project ourselves into the game world and come to identify ourselves strongly with the entities we create, be that character, Corp or alliance. We define those identities as much by our opponents as anything else and the rivalries can play out over months or years. They become etched into our EVE experience and stay with us long after events have played out. Keeping them alive helps to maintain the world we crafted for ourselves and enjoy to play in. Or in the Goon vs BoB case, stoke the embers of the sense of unity that war created which can help to bind the CFC together today.

  42. Just guessing but I assume the 'issues' were connections between Rote Kapelle, and Jade Constantine/ Star Fraction? I left CVA just as the upper level discussions were starting and had honestly forgotten that there was a connection there but your right some people have a very long memory. Within an hour of your guys move to provi being mentioned in the CVA Facebook group several (old inactive people) immediately began questioning why we were letting Fractionite anarchists into the area. Four or Five years ago it would have been unthinkable but the membership, playstyle, and powerstructure of today's CVA and Powerbloc is very different than it was four or five years ago.

  43. I see things a little differently, I suppose, because I'm not (and never have been) a member of one of the big alliances. Hate is an overused word in modern society too. There are relatively few people running around these days that *really* 'hate' someone else. Lots of 'dislike' 'disapprove' and 'disrespect' but that's hardly 'hate'. Smack talk is so commonplace that its lost its value - a few decades ago, if you said the things you casually type in chat today, you could expect to be murdered for it. In real life.

    As an individual, I have a short list of players/corps/alliances who have treated me poorly enough that I'd enjoy seeing them repaid in kind...but everyone on that list *directly* caused me grief, and I don't hate any of them. Hate is about passion, rage, and a whole mess of other strong emotions. If I get ganked at a gate camp, I get angry, I get upset, and then I get another ship and go do something else. I don't 'hate' the guys who ran the gate camp (though I'd find satisfaction in blowing up some of their ships).

    I see a lot of the 'Big Group Players' acting differently. They dislike Alliance X because 'everybody else in my alliance does' and so forth. So they act badly in chat, and in space, because everyone else does. Herd mentality. And that of course, feeds the vicious circle of pseudo-hatred, until it sweeps up a few folks who have real world issues and cannot differentiate between game/dislike and reality/hatred. Those are the players who 'hold a grudge like a Sicilian elephant' (as my father used to say).

    The rest? They don't have anything to claim as their own, in game, so they stake a claim to the 'group grudge' and call it their own. Ugleb said it better, and more politely, but it's just more role-play.



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