Welcome to Blog Banter 37, the mass-community bloggery your mother probably didn't warn you about. Don't worry, it is legal and it won't hurt a bit (more info here). The question being kicked around the blogosphere this month is possibly a sensitive one, but it's certainly topical.
"EVE Online sits on the frontier of social gaming, providing an entertainment environment like no other. The vibrant society of interacting and conflicting communities, both within the EVE client and without, is the driving force behind EVE's success. However, the anonymity of internet culture combined with a competitive gaming environment encourages in-game behaviour to spread beyond the confines of the sandbox. Where is the line?"
Our little sandbox is a pretty dangerous place. Our playmates' behavior can get a little bit out of hand sometimes, but we like it that way. It keeps it interesting. Where do we draw the line though? What becomes too much for the average player to handle?
Simply put, the line is where it becomes too personal for a player in terms of out-of-game experience. Across the board, other bloggers are pretty unanimous on this point. My biggest problem with this definition is that its vague. What is too personal for you might not be for others. We're playing in an international and incredibly diverse game here. The casual smack talk seen in local might be more than enough to turn some away, but I think most would agree that type of stuff is still solidly in the "not-so-bad" category. Griefing goes the same way. Is it a behavior that everyone finds acceptable? Absolutely not. Too far? The general consensus is no on that one as well, despite some vocal opposition from the minority.
For me, it goes a little deeper than some of the examples above. Griefing and smack talk can be considered "soft" lines in the sand, if you will. My "hard" line is where people start interfering with actual home computers, other assets, or real people. If you read Emergent Patroller's Blog Banter Entry, those incidents were well over the line. In fact, it was enough to make me consider shutting down the blog and just get back to solely playing the game. Stalking someone is far, far over the line. "Lesser" offenses like DDOS attacks break the boundary for me too. Say someone had a bill to pay online that night after their dedicated Eve time. You just cost them real money, and I'm not talking about Plex. Even if they just felt like watching Netflix, its still a real disruption to their lives outside the game, and that's unacceptable.
The most interesting part about all of this though, is that deep down, we secretly like that its a part of our game. I'm not saying everyone is out there hoping and praying that the opposing alliance gets DDOS'd into submission. No one roots for the internet stalker gathering others' private information. But it is intriguing. We like that people are willing to go to these measures. Its part of our culture at this point. It is very much a part of our "Eve is Real" notion. Its an extension of the old saying, "if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying," and in this game, everyone is trying.
Simply put, Eve is a double edged sword. On one side, no one really wants others property destroyed. On the other, it wouldn't be the game that we know and love without that base level of slightly malicious intentions. That's the Eve we know. Don't expect any drastic changes to these lines in the sand any time soon. Eve's dark side is here to stay.