Sunday, August 5, 2012

Blog Banter 37: The Review

With Blog Banter 38 now up and running, it is time to call to close Blog Banter 37. After seeing A Scientist's Life in EVE do such a great wrap up of BB36, and in a bid to protect Seismic Stan's sanity for at least one more month, I thought I would heed the to call to review the 31(!) responses to this month's burning question!

Inspired by a series of events transpiring outside of the game, Stan posed the following question:

"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?"

Here's what New Eden had to say:

BB37: Do Unto Others!
Rixx Javix, proprietor of EVEOGANDA and leader of the Thukk You, Frill Me movement is first in line and opens his response with a bang. Invoking the Golden Rule and clarifying CCP's role in interpreting the application of that rule, Rixx's response is a brusque reminder that society, virtual or otherwise will tolerate only so much before turning you over to people who will make violating the EULA the least of your problems. 

This Far, No Further...
Eve is Real. And in this reality, Confessions of a Closet Carebear paints a picture of a world that has both a light, positive side and a dark, negative one. He then applies the two to a concept termed the 'Eve Bubble' to create a loose framework for determining how far is too far, and for determining whether Eve is Real or Eve is Too Real.

Faking It
Nikolaj Vincent at Eve Stratics begins his entry with a consideration on the utility of EVE by discussing both the outlet for unhealthy behavior it provides and the social training ground it can be. By examining the juxtaposition of EVE against the backdrop of real life he creates a playfully interesting argument for why breaching the sandbox might not be such a terrible idea after all. 

Grit in Your Guts
That faithful Kiwi at Aggressive Logistics raises the possibility that the line in question is in fact a moral one; a question of someone's character and belief system in equal measure. The futility of using this as a barometer for determining how much of what we do in-game is acceptable is discussed, before drawing a line of his own. Only this line isn't drawn in sand, but in flesh and blood.

The Line in the Sand
Kuan Yida at Random Posts from Auga also suggests that the line in question is moral in nature. He briefly describes his own personal code of ethics in our "troll's paradise" before outlining some specific examples of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Again we see the "in-game good, out of game" bad framework discussed in some detail.

Eve Is Full of Idiots
In what might be my favorite post title, Notes from New Eden sums up their sentiment perfectly while leaving the door open for exploration. They discuss how we're all idiots in EVE and how we're all equally wrong in some way or another. NNE also notes the uniqueness of Eve's tendency to blur the edges between it and real life and concludes that ultimately it is up to the the law of whatever land you live in to help you mitigate any threats the idiots may wish to inflict.

Drifting out of Touch
Aurelie at Emergent Patroller uses a deeply personal experience to teach us that meta-gaming and line crossing are nothing new in the world of Eve Online. She talks about her emotional reactions to those events to explore how irrational people justify irrational actions, as well as the precautions one can take to avoid becoming a victim. I'm trying hard to remain impartial here, but this has to rank among the most powerful responses to this crucial question.   

It's All About Consequences
From Orakkus at 2nd Anomaly from the Left comes a thought-provoking piece on the "fictional" distinction between our in-game and out-of-game selves. He approaches the question from the angle of consequences, and how it is these consequences rather than the actions preceding them that define the line, as well as whether or not we've crossed it.

Lines in the Sand
Mara Rinn of Rinn's Rants begins her response by categorizing the pilots of New Eden as either "polite gamers" or "boundary-pushers", and uses this distinction to illustrate who really decides where the line is. She also considers CCP's perspective on the matter and imagines their response would be truly polarizing.

When Did it Get So Fuzzy in Here?
In his debut post, Morg Braktar discusses the moving target that is the "line" on his blog Quiet as a Morg. Morg reduces the line to its most basic existence inside each one of us before expanding his view outward towards the EVE community at large. Ultimately, he concludes the line exists only where we as a community commit to upholding it. E Pluribus, Unum, friends.

Where's the Line?
Anshu Zephyran of Structure Damage offers a concise yet insightful post regarding the definition of the line and the difference between in-game violence and out of game violence. For Anshu, it just so happens this magical persistence we adore in game is the very element that defines how far is too far.

The Line in the Mind
TurAmarth ElRandir of A CARBON Based Life takes a step back from the game and uses an instructive example from an overwhelmingly popular US television show to teach us that even though the line is vague and can be morally subjective, it is as internalized in us as our own conscience, and that Jiminy Cricket might have been on to something.

Don't Cross the Line
"Eve is real, they say. But how real can we allow it to be?" Virto Nex of Cannon Fodder begins. Virto narrows his gaze on the reality of EVE, in that it is merely an escape from the persistent reality we live and breathe every day. In pondering the interaction of the outlet EVE provides and the players that plug in,  he considers the relationship between a player's actions and the consequences of those actions as well. Play nice, kids. We're all here for the same toys.

What Happens in New Eden Stays in New Eden
Lukas Rox of Torchwood Archives opens his response up with a brief thought on internet anonymity and how that skews behavior in the absence of perceived social consequences. As have other entries in this banter, Lukas acknowledges that CCP has their strict definition of where the line is, and uses a personal example to illustrate the fact that the players and CCP differ in their willingness to accept anomalous social behavior so long as the consequences for doing so aren't severe.

The Line in the Sand
When he tells you that the "line" as we've discussed it doesn't exist, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Splatus of A Journey Through the Mind was about to fall in line with many of the other banterers and tell you that the line was subjective. The trick up his sleeve is obvious when he explains why the line doesn't exist: we don't exist either. The rest is best explained by Splatus in this engaging and provocative response.

Cracked Rear View
Breaking with tradition, Ripard Teg of Jester's Trek weighs in on this particular blog banter with a glimpse into the DNA of EVE Online and MMOs at large. And just like any 'gudfite' in EVE Online, he's brought friends, most notably Aristotle. I'm assuming we're going to forgive him for naming his piece after a 'Hootie and the Blowfish' album, since he's Jester and he gets away with these sorts of things. ;-)

The Line
Kirith Kodachi of Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah briefly weighs in by eschewing the Golden Rule. Thinking he's drawn his line in the sand, he's shocked to discover it to be quicksand, and that he has himself fallen in...

A Line Removed
In this piece by Winterblink of Warp Drive Active we discover that the line has actually been stolen. A little bit of creative sleuthing reveals the true culprits, and why this game that is such a clever mix of "holyshits and whatthefucks" has driven us all to become such bloodthirsty bastards.

Shredding the Fabric
Corelin from Mad Haberdashers drops by to put in his two cents, citing the "John Gabriel Internet Dickwad theory" before pointing out that the line isn't as nebulous as people make it out to be. Good news, asshats; you're still in. 

What Happens in New Eden Stays in New Eden
Morphisat, author of the aptly named Morphisat's Blog steps in and offers a brief summary of BB37 to that point. Suggesting a hard line, with a soft, chewy "spy" center, he summons the ghosts of Machiavelli before taking his leave. 

A play in three acts, by Blastradius1 of Blastrad Tales. Act One: A sandbox, two players, and a disagreement. Act Two: John Q. Law, shades of white and black writ gray. Act Three: A penny turned, it's second side considered. The whole of EVE in perspective, windowlickers be damned. 

A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy
Drackarn of Sand, Cider, and Spaceships starts his way in Jita and winds his way throughout the rest of New Eden to show us that this game truly celebrates line-crossing in any number of forms we might personally find distasteful but that are accepted in aggregate. He also considers the notion that any line we had has been trampled to death by those fighting to get across it first. 

The Matrix Has You
Eve is real. A Scientist's Life in Eve was there. In game and out, Eve is real. He considers the ramifications of that and defines where his own line stands in the process. And while you may run afoul of him in-game (I wouldn't, he'll blow you up), running afoul of the law is another matter entirely, in-game or out. 

The Double-Edged Sword
Tommy Rollins of Rollin's Ride in Eve invites us to consider the duplicitous nature of Eve players as well as the line itself. Citing both soft and hard examples of that line, what truly fascinates Tommy is to what degree we players appreciate having two sides to choose from.

Human After All
Hans Jagerblitzen, current CSM delegate and author of Hans Shot First, calls into focus the grand social and psychological experiment that is EVE Online. In doing so he reminds us gently at first, then more directly that despite the environment that the game has created, it will never absolve the players who participate of accountability for their actions or the responsibility that comes with the very human ability to choose.

I, Firstly, writing at Flying Silent, am the man behind this particular entry. In it, I attempt to devise a philosophical framework for defining the line, what falls within the boundaries of it, and what lay beyond. By examining what constitutes the game, the meta-game and the exo-game, Marvel as I confound and confuse before ultimately clarifying my position.

Morality Is a Social Contract
Adhar Khorin of Margin Call examines the line in the context of social contracts that exist both in-game and outside of it. They are indeed two separate contracts, with key differences between them that help us determine "good" from "bad."

Pandora's Sandbox
Host of the Blog Banter and author of Freebooted and Tech4News, Seismic Stan weighs in with his thoughts on the topic he originally proposed. Comparing the rabid fan-bases of both European football clubs and EVE Online, he demonstrates how passion and enthusiasm can turn ugly, regardless of the arena. He also considers the responses of those who have posted before him, seeing a reason to hope the EVE community might be able to transcend EVE's brutish reality. 

Lines Don't Look That Great When Drawn in Sand
Evehermit, sole proprietor of Evehermit's Blog posits the existence of not just one line, but hundreds all equally valid. Taken together, they require a "flexible moral compass" on the part of the intrepid navigator. Failing that, he invokes the "Golden Rule" to help navigate the murky, sandy waters.

Bullying the Sandbox
In a living example of the very issue we set out to discuss, Sindel Pellion of Sindel's Universe posted a foul-mouthed, insightful essay on the topic, received some harsh feedback for her point of view, and took down her post within the span of about 24 hours. Whether this was a legitimate withdrawal, or an attempt to prove the point is open for debate. But if it was intended as an example; well done, Sin.

A long answer and a short one
Bringing Blog Banter 37 to a close is Jace Errata/Cobalt Snake of Year of the Snake. After spelling out the location of the line in terms of real-world consequences and declaring his position, he describes the EVE Universe as being populated by (to paraphrase) "raging douchebags inflicting raging douchebaggery on non-douchebags and douchebags alike." And with one final comment on the sandbox metaphor, he is off.  And with that, so am I.

My many thanks to all of the participants of Blog Banter 37 and to Seismic Stan for giving me the opportunity to write and host its review. It is a large undertaking, but a truly rewarding one as I get to know each blogger and their point of view more intimately and reflect on their influence on my own.  See you in BB38!


  1. Excellent review. Thanks for doing this.

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  3. Beautifully summed up, and you even suggested I'm good at PvP (which I'm not!). Thanks for this - you've raised the bar once more.

  4. I've just listened to Crossing Zebras podcast episode 8 and they get right to the heart of this Blog Banter topic in a very interesting discussion.

    Well worth a listen.

  5. Very nice summary. Another great example of your wonderful wordsmything. Too bad I didn't catch Sindel's post when it was still up, i would have wanted to read that one.

  6. Kudos, good job... I too would have liked to read what Sindel had to say... If it was good enough to generate some whingin, it was prolly pretty on point...
    Remember, "The Truth Will Set You Free, But First it Will PISS YOU OFF!" LOL

  7. Very well done :). Love the summaries !!

  8. lol @ the Sindel's review. Didn't get a chance to read it so good work.