21st Century Digital Gnome: EVE Online–You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

EVE Online is a Sci-FI MMO set in space. You zip about the galaxy in your spaceship and do various space things. This description of the game is super-vague because I don’t know very much at all about the game except that it is set in space.

Because, you see, I don’t play EVE Online. I don’t want to ever play EVE Online, and if I ever start playing, each and every person I know has my permission to check me for mind-controlling starfish*.

Okay, I lied about not knowing a single thing about the game. I actually have managed to learn a few things about the game. I know that you can mine asteroids, I know there are space pirates, and I know that players can create and join corporations in order to team up against the space pirates–or against other corporations. I know you can upgrade your ship, or buy new ships or build new ships and I know that unlike most MMOs, it doesn’t have a lot in the way of rules about what is and isn’t okay to do to other players.

EVE Online has a open Player-vs-Player system. It means that any player can attack any other player, regardless of level or race. The game’s creators “regulate” this by creating some areas of the game where it is safer to travel, but it is never quite a sure thing. The protected areas have NPC “security” and aggression is punished –but not entirely prevented. In effect, there is nowhere in the game that is completely safe. Not even among your “friends.”

EVE Online is semi-infamous–and utterly and absolutely fascinating to read about–because of one single facet of the game.

The people who run it really don’t care if you screw over everyone else in your single-minded attempts to gain the most ISK–the EVE Online term for in-game money. Seriously, they just don’t care, as long as whatever you do isn’t, of course, hacking the game itself–that is still against the rules.

So more than any other game I have read about, the stories of piracy, spying, back-stabbing, infiltration and broken trust keep me coming back to read about this game that I don’t even ever want to play. It’s like watching the MMO version of Leverage, only half the time, the bad guys get away with it. **

The first story–the one that hooked me, the one that made me sit up and notice that this game was not like any other game I’ve ever heard of–was way back in 2005. I couldn’t tell you now where I heard about it, but the article I read has been in my bookmarks ever since. Whenever anyone talks about any other game being chock full of evil players, I drop this article in their laps.

The short version: In 2005, one of the biggest and most powerful corporations in the game was Ubiqua Seraph, and their CEO was a player named Mirial. For 10 months, her trusted lieutenant was Arenis Xerndal. And unknown to Mirial, he and several key members of the board of Ubiqua Seraph were infiltrators from the Guiding Hand Social Club, a mercenary corporation who had been paid one billion ISK to kill Mirial. From all accounts, the infiltration involved not only the in-game actions, but gaining out-of-game trust with Mirial and her fellow corporation members. Ubiqua Seraph as a corporation is gone–they exist as a memorial to their former CEO. The Guiding Hand Social Club still exists, even today, still taking contracts and causing mayhem, although in five years, nothing they have done has made as much of an impact as this event.

My favorite story is here. Presented here in 12 parts, it explains how one player managed to scam something like 450 million ISK out dozens of players. The story I’ve linked to is–well, let’s be blunt, it’s offensive in places and chock full of language you wouldn’t use in front of your grandmom. I winced more than once. Yet I am about two hours past my deadline because I had to go re-read the whole thing again because once I started, I couldn’t stop. The lengths that this player went to to secure the in-game money–and the ultimate epilogue (Spoiler: He gets away scot free) are fascinating.

Reading about stories like this–and there are many more that can be found just by reading the forums–they have an entire subforum for the criminal element of the game, well, I’d call it a guilty pleasure…but there’s no guilt involved. For me, it’s been like my boyfriend’s pulp spy novel habit. I just can’t stop reading about the scams, bank heists, and schemes in this one game that I don’t even play.

* The starfish are from space, but have nothing to do with EVE Online.

** I will bestow my eternal gratitude on anyone who writes Leverage/Eve Online fanfiction. That would make me happy.

Posted on May 24, 2010 at 20:10 by Frito · Permalink
In: Games: MMORPGs and Text-Based RPGs · Tagged with: , , ,

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  1. Written by J.S. Campbell
    on 2010-05-25 at 00:35

    You know what's the most amazing part about Eve? Despite the endless stories of treachery and evil that garner blog headlines it is probably the most teamwork centric MMO on the market. From the small mining ops to the large player battles that involve hundreds (if not thousands) of people, Eve is a game which fosters friendship and community on a grand scale.

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