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From our illustrious Blog Banter Master, Seismic Stan, we have the following for Blog Banter 37:

“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?”

Rules are what we follow, Laws are what is imposed on us.  The Consequences of which determine our fate.

This “Line” that everyone is talking about can be perceived as pretty much one thing.  It is the point at which your actions in virtual life and your actions in real life intersect.  Where the virtual actor crosses over and messes with your real world life.. and vice versa.  However, this “Line” is often viewed as the point where instead of putting your best foot forward, you let your worst instincts have free reign.

The view that there is some difference between your “true” self and your “online” self  really clouds the ugly truth that such a difference doesn’t actually exist.  True, people can “act” like contrary to their real personality for a time.. but even professional actors, if they play their parts for too long, start holding on to various personality traits of the person they acted as.  All it takes is time.  It is a human trait, that is used for both good purposes and bad.  Having a role model, for example, allows you to “roleplay” certain personality traits and habits until you see and experience the benefit to them and then those traits become part of who you are. 

So, really this “line” isn’t the action itself, because no one talks about “crossing the line” when you do better things for people.  It thus is the potential of consequences that gives us the belief that there is a “line”.  So, if we remove consequence, you remove the line.  The internet and the nature of online computing puts that reality in sharp focus on a daily basis.  However, it isn’t the only thing that can do that.  For example, US Police strikes 1919 and 1969, the Canadian Police strike in 1971, and even potential Police strikes like what is going on in Brazil all affirm that once the consequences are removed, large numbers of the populace will rob, steal, rape, murder, etc. wantonly and without regard.  Last I checked, even Eve Online players are people (well, except miners), and so the same reality applies to us as well.  Once the consequences are gone, then the person who you truly are will make a decision to act or not to act.  So the end result isn’t so much if whether your online persona is really you or not.  It IS you, make no mistake about that.  It is just that you fear the consequences enough that you behave for the time being.

In the virtual world however, the consequences.. as well as the crimes, are considerably different.  In the virtual world, all crimes are really centered around your real life name.  But, it is also limited to that as well.  The worst crime upon both the Internet and on Eve Online isn’t so much telling lies about a person.. but more likely telling the bitter truth about a person.  This Blog Banter is based primarily off of what happened between Goonswarm and White Rose Conventicle, as well as Goonswarm’s move against Jade Constantine.  The CEO of WRC, Yuki Onna, decided to publicly disparage The Mittani of Goonswarm fame.  The Mittani chose to wardec the WRC as well as form another corporation whose only task was to harass (presumably in game only) the White Rose Conventicle along with others like Jade Constantine, until they left the game.  This assault by Goonswarm culminated in what appeared to be a real world DDOS attack on her ISP.   Unable to counter this, Yuki quit.  And then blamed CCP for what he believed to be Goonswarm harassment.  How devistating was this real world attack on Yuki?  By his own words, it was for a measly few hours.  Even by today’s sissy standards.. that really isn’t much harassment.

We all have a nice laugh, call Yuki a wimp,etc. etc.  Did the perpatrator do something illegal?  Yes, absolutely.  Was it important though?  No.  Yuki could have sat down and read a book, or grabbed a new interest.  What happened was a mere inconvience.  Some people have pointed to other shenanigans like The Mittani getting death threats or the time when a player managed to get the power turned off at an enemy’s player house, or even The Mittani’s supposed effort to get a guy to commit suicide.  Again, these things aren’t really that serious.  No, I don’t consider death threats serious.  Mainly because we have all said something to that effect at one time or another in the heat of the moment, and we have all said it, sat back angrily, then promptly went about our game (and they did theirs) as nothing happened at all.. and then of course, nothing happened at all.

This puts things then in the crux of the problem.  Because there are certainly bad actions.  Actions like stalking someone, physically hurting someone, trying to steal their money, etc., where the consequences of those actions are unrepairable or unreplaceable.. and that is where I think the line is.  When what you do causes consequenes that cannot be undone, cannot be replaced, cannot be repaired.  Then you have crossed the “Line”.

Points from other Bloggers:

Emergent Patroller – Drifting Out of Touch – A very personal view of this topic

Random Posts from Auga – Line in the Sand – A categorical view of “The Line”

Notes from New Eden – Eve is Full of Idiots – Idiots in and out of Eve

Eve Stratics – Faking It – Law of Jante

Eveoganda – Do Unto Others – The Golden Rule