Personal responsibility is dead. Long live the EULA

I followed the Mittani Debacle from a distance and only with the occasional glance at the official forums.  Basically, the man got drunk, said really dumb things, realized it, apologized and is now being burned at a stake Salem-style.  No flame burns as hot as that of religious fury and the the witch hunt of the Mittani has drawn out the villagers, their torches and pitchforks.  All, of course, in the righteous defense of a helpless and innocent victim of Mittani’s devilish schemes.

And yes, Mittani broke the damn EULA, probably 20 times / minute when he played the game, used foul language in public, used derogatory terms on other players and schemed wickedly smart moves to scam other players out of their hard-earned ISK.  We all watched and cheered.  He gave credence to the entire reputation that EVE is hard.  If you can not take the heat, step out of the fire, HFTU and so on.  CCP specifically designed the system to be merciless, allow human behavior that otherwise is immoral and illegal to differentiate their game from the many bland versions of WoW.  It is a brutal games for adults.

Finally, a game environment where adults are allowed to exercise personal responsibility.  A true sandbox, free of the laws that in the real world replace common sense and ethics.  Where I can make true choices in my behavior towards other people that are based on my moral standing and suffer – or not – the consequences as an individual.  Where no Nannie state protects the weak, the innocent, the pathetic.  Where I must fight for myself either by being the biggest bad-ass out there, develop stealth and skill to avoid being targeted or team up in a band of brothers and seek strength in numbers.

But now, Mittani has set the precedence.   Under the hood of this seemingly dark game lurks a standard EULA with its code of conduct that seem pretty much copies from every one MMO out there.  It is there to protect CCP from law suits.  Be nice, be kind, be gentle to your fellow player.  Derogatory terms, verboten.  Insults to fellow players are harassment.

With this EULA in hand, pitch-fork wielding villagers are now not just going to burn Mittani (who had it coming) but the last game where personal responsibility decided how you wanted to interact with other other players.  They will demand that their mining ships can not be ganked.  They will demand that nothing can be stolen, scammed, destroyed.  They will demand that all personal conversations are monitored and filtered for foul language, insulting comments or threats of any kind.  They will demand that the sky – which is black and dark and dangerous – be painted cheerful, pink and with dancing purple unicorns.  And they will get their wishes or the torches will get lit.

The freedom is gone from EVE, I fear forever and New Eden will be poorer place for it.

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4 responses to “Personal responsibility is dead. Long live the EULA

  1. Negative. He did not break the EULA with in game harassment. He broke it by breaking the “magic circle” and taking it out of game. Eve will be fine as soon as all the sick fucks prosecuting real life harassment STFU and start playing a game again.

    Frankly, making the CSM give their real names was not a smart move by CCP.

  2. I agree with Liang about the nature of the violation. Everything will be fine as long as people keep ripping eachother off, betraying eachother and shooting eachother in-game. The code of conduct forbids harassment that is directed at the player, not the character.

    That being said, I have heard from people acquainted with the man, that Mittens had received threats to his person (since his real name was known) and that CCP had done nothing. Of course they can’t for as long as the player’s account name remains unknown, but in case it is/becomes known, they really should throw people like that out of the game forever. Hating the Mittani is one thing, threatening Alex Gianturco another.

    • I promised myself that I will not think or write about this anymore as it is a distasteful episode and nothing good can come from it. But I need to say clarify that I don’t condone what Mittani did – it was ethically wrong and maybe even against the EULA. The fact that he said what he said outside the game and in Iceland makes it more of a case for Icelandic law than CCP’s EULA. But anyway. The character TheMittani is abhorrent to me in so many ways that I don’t even know where to start. The man Alex is – as you say – a very different character who – probably and one should hope – never would condone if real, physical harm came from his antics.

      In that entire episode, I see Alex, the man, as a victim of his environment much as Lynndie England was that of hers. Before people get all wild on this, let me explain. Lynndie operated within her environment perfectly well, she adhered to the local (very local, confined to a few individuals) morals and standards and was rewarded with attention (again in that small environment). Her behavior therefore was acceptable where she aimed it to be. Outside that little bubble, her behavior was of course considered extraordinarily vile and illegal and she was rightly punished for her action. But was she really, really responsible? Not everyone can always judge their action against the morals (and laws, but that is a different matter) of the _greater_ society. To blame – and to prosecute – is the system that allows bubbles of behavior to develop, fester and take root. As far as I know, no officer has been convicted for the crimes that happened in Abu Ghraib.

      CCP’s Alliance panel was stacked with distasteful personalities, each one of them could have said the same thing. All of FHC and EVO-Forum is a moral swamp and morass in which TheMittani finds his audience, his electorate and his voice. The eventual spillover into the real “Alex” world was inevitable. CCP should have known that this was coming (did they not review the slides where the original mail was presented btw???) and put a stop to it. Drain the swamp and kill the snakes.

      The reason why I am really worried about the next step is that we all become dependent on laws, regulations which serves as a replacement for our own moral standing. What Alex did was “wrong” – it is as simple as that. No EULA, no law, no FHC crowd can make it right what he did. We in the “civilized, western” world outsource our morality to the Judiciary. We accept what is “legal” as what is “morally right” and nothing could be further from the truth. So many things are technically legal that are morally “wrong”.

      EVE Online invited us to explore our boundaries, our tolerances and our sense of right and wrong in a sandbox. Hammering the EULA at us will make us lazy in assessing our own understanding of right and wrong.

  3. Well, I agree on the last sentence, and I tend to think I am not a person who needs an EULA or a law to tell me what’s right and wrong. Mind you, often enough doing the right thing is against the law in many countries on this planet.

    But it is true, lots of people have outsourced their moral compass, they will do as they are ordered and as the law tells them, and when that regulating measure is gone, they become amoral and ruthless like many capsuleers in EVE.

    Luckily not all of them.

    It’s one of the things I like about that game: It is a social experiment that shows what people would do if they had effective immortality and would face little or no consequence for unethical behaviour. Sure, it’s only a game, and people wouldn’t ever behave like that if it were about real people dying … or would they?

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