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Friday, July 6, 2012

Blog Banter 37: Don't cross the line

"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?"

Eve is real they say, but how real can we allow it to be? There are people in this video game I will freely admit I can't stand; but what would happen if I met them in real life, or found their real facebook page, or anything outside of the game?  The answer to that is simple, nothing.

Let's back up a little bit though, at first look this is a very simple question with a very simple answer.  Would you physically harm someone in real life over a video game?  Would you attack them in their social circle?  Taunt, ridicule, harass them?  Of course you wouldn't; and if you would, it's probably time you stepped away from the computer for a while.  There's more to this simple question than would first appear though.

As we delve deeper into this line of thought a few truths arise.  First, we all think we're way smarter and more important than we really are.  Second, the internet allows us, via it's anonymity, to be someone other than our true selves.  In an of themselves these aren't bad things.  It can be a great relief to come home from your menial job and enter a world where you're a bad ass and incredibly important.  All games do this for you, frankly that's why we play them.  TV does this, movies, books, they all allow you to take away the stresses of life while enjoying another reality.

MMO's take this escape, and put you into a world filled with thousands of others trying to do the same thing.  Just like in real life though, in Eve you can be unsuccessful.  You can be unimportant.  But it allows us to take out our frustrations on other people.  You can be a jerk, you can be a criminal, you can be the lowest society has to offer, and have fun doing all of it.

Thirdly, there is no true governance online.  You can do what you want, say what you want, lie, be a dick, whatever.

Let me ask you a question.  If you knew, for a fact, that you could rob a bank for billions of dollars and would never get caught, would you do it?  I'd wager that 90+% of the world would say yes.  I know I would, we don't do it though because we know for a fact that we will get caught.  The problem with the internet is, we won't get caught for being a douche-bag.  Our parents/girlfriends/wives will never know what we watch late at night.  Your friends won't know that you love My Little Pony (shame on all of you btw).

What happens when you combine people being their natural dick selves with no repercussions trying to fight a bigger dick, all in a world that encourages it?  Lines get crossed.  People say racist, homophobic, sexual, and all around stupid things.

The way I see it, the line is truly crossed when you bring up someones personal life into the mix.  I know we've all used the word "fag" to describe another pilot we've met.  The problem arises when we use that word to attack the person behind the pilot who is in fact truly gay in real life.  The line for acceptable online interaction is much further back than what it is in day to day life, and you need to be prepared for that.  What you can not allow yourself to do though, is get involved in other players real lives in a negative way.  That can range from physical violence all the way to personal attacks on the forums and in chat.  The moment you bring up the person, you've crossed the line.

Remember, they're just like you, trying to escape from reality for a bit.  So be nice, don't attack their personal lives.

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