Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Slippery Slopes

Before we start:  I feel like half of my posts are just responses to Ripard Teg, but the guy writes so much and on so many topics that I find my self not caring.  Just a throwaway thought before I get down to it.

Read this.  And then maybe the thread associated, and maybe some of the previous articles.  This is the internet, I can wait.

Now we can start.  Most of the debaters in the the topic of what kind of players play Eve and how CCP should treat them seem to accept that both the "Bonus Room" scam and player perpetrating are despicable examples of human behavior.  If something like this happened in your work or your family life, you would cut ties with the person and tell others to avoid them.  That is a relief.  It means that, as I have long suspected and occasionally written, most players of Eve who also participate in the out of game community are either decent people, or are decent enough to recognize truly atrocious behavior.  What I find disturbing is that many of those same people think banning players who conduct "Bonus Room" style behavior will somehow start a slippery slope where anyone can be banned for anything.

This is not a valid concern.

Bad behavior comes in many forms.  Often bad behavior is an isolated incident, where someone gets carried away.  You say something nasty while drunk or in a group, and later realize your mistake.  Sometimes bad behavior comes from healthy testing of boundaries.  Children get in fights or disobeying parents.  These sorts of infractions can be dealt with simply and quickly.  A little feedback goes a long way, and that sort of feedback is what helps people define acceptable behavior in any society.  But some bad behavior is premeditated, cruel and repetitive.  Simple and measured feedback doesn't work, because the perpetrator has no regard for the rules.

In some situations companies have, or choose to assume, a moral or legal obligation to protect their customers.  CCP has already shown they are willing to accept a moral right to protect.  In that case a player made comment about killing himself after falling for a scam in Jita.  While his conversation was in jest, CCP contacted local authorities who then checked in on the player at his home.  While the player's initial post was fairly shocked, his first response to CCP in the comments was to thank them.  He realized that if he was not joking, CCP may have saved his life.  Also reference CCP's handling of The Mittani.  I assume anyone reading this is familiar with that event, and will not repeat the story here.

In most cases companies also have a right to refuse service to customers. This is the opposite side of the coin illustrated above.  CCP is completely within rights, in extreme cases, to refuse service without referring to the EULA or complex rules-arguing.  They can decide that people perpetrating a certain level of malicious, planned, and orchestrated bad behavior simply do not get to play with the toys CCP has made.  They can do this on a case by case basis.  If they want, they can put in place stringent internal rules to limit this scenario.  But they can do it, and they should. 

It is ok for a company to admit that things may have gotten out of hand or beyond the comfort zone.  Especially if the reaction is obviously and, if necessary, publicly done to provide clear feedback to behavior that is well past any reasonable boundary.  A few strong examples may do far more good than incrementally adjusting the rules to define the perfect balance for the bad behavior boundary line.   There is no slippery slope here.  There is truly bad behavior and the opportunity to strongly denounce it.

And finally, Eve Online is a game.  It is for amusement and relaxation, an escape or an adventure.  It is not a sacrosanct nation that needs to allow or tacitly support real abuse or psychological manipulation in order to protect the liberties and rights of fictional characters.

1 comment:

  1. Well written.

    I especially like your last paragraph.

    In this case CCP really has to do something, and despite the exagerations and hyperbole of Ripard's post he has more-or-less single-handedly bought the issue to everyones attention and CCP can't really hide.