The Other Kind of MMO: Space Ethics

By Bob Case Posted Saturday Jun 27, 2020

Filed under: Video Games 43 comments

I fixed the splash! I was late emailing it to Shamus, so it might not load right away, but it’s fixed.

Before I launched my career in space crime, I needed to grapple with the ethics of it.

That’s not usually something one does while playing a computer game, but here it seemed necessary. After all, I was going to be tricking people into giving me money. Fake money, yes, but it represents real effort and time invested. Losing can lead to real frustration. Is it right to do such a thing? I concluded that it was, and not just because I wanted the money either. To me, EVE is something like poker: lying is part of the game.

A citadel or 'upwell' structure, one of the biggest things players can build. I had mostly stopped playing by the time these things got added to the game, but from what I've heard they make sov warfare even worse.
A citadel or 'upwell' structure, one of the biggest things players can build. I had mostly stopped playing by the time these things got added to the game, but from what I've heard they make sov warfare even worse.

In poker there’s a concept called “table stakes.” It says that any money you put on the table is, in a way, not yours anymore – it belongs to the game,Incidentally, if you’re ever watching a movie or something and someone pulls money out of their pocket to bet it, they’re violating poker etiquette. and you only get it back when you cash out. I decided the same was true here: if you had in-game money, and even more so if you were involved in nullsec, your money isn’t really yours. And, for that matter, neither is mine mine.

What’s more, I decided not to try and scam new players. For one thing, they don’t have that much money yet, and for another it felt sleazy. The real satisfying thing, I thought, would be to scam someone who should know better, just like I should’ve. Someone who’s been playing the game a while and has enough money to be worth taking. Maybe even someone who can take other people’s money and pass it along to me? There was actually a way to do both.

The idea I had (which was not an idea unique to me; many have had it over the years) was a rental scam. The large sovholding alliances in nullsec often end up with more systems than they can realistically use, and fill out the rest by “renting” them to corps that wouldn’t ordinarily be able to take and hold them. These are entire constellations sometimes, so rents can run into the billions a week. My plan was to offer systems that I didn’t actually have the authority to rent. If I could get just one or two weeks’ worth out of someone, that would be the biggest payday I’d had by far.

I appreciate good corp names, and there are some good ones in EVE. I would have liked to have flown with SULBN at some point, for instance. The site in the screenshot is from evemaps.dotlan.net, a good place to be familiar with if you're playing the game.
I appreciate good corp names, and there are some good ones in EVE. I would have liked to have flown with SULBN at some point, for instance. The site in the screenshot is from evemaps.dotlan.net, a good place to be familiar with if you're playing the game.

Besides money, I had another motivation: there were people in EVE that I just plain didn’t like. Leadership positions in a game like this tend to attract large egos, toxicity was common, and (at the time at least, this has improved somewhat since) casual homophobia was rampant. My idea was that I’d come across some promising dickwad on the forums – some guy that ran a mining corp with eleven members and thought he was the second coming of Clausewitz, if you’ve played EVE you know the type – and take that fool’s money.

This wasn’t an uncommon motivation for scammers. To this day, one practice of the community is the sharing of “chat porn” – the delicious angry reactions of people after they realize they’ve been had. That was a little more into the sadistic side of things than I wanted to go myself, but the truth is I didn’t just want the money. I wanted the satisfaction of being able to say that I’d done it. I wanted a cool experience more than I wanted to buy bigger, swankier ships. That’s a concept we’re going to return to later in the series.

For now, I needed a cover story. People weren’t likely to pay me to rent systems if I wasn’t even a member of the alliance that controlled them. To make my story believable, I needed to join a group that controlled at least some space. As luck would have it, there was a group almost tailor-made for what I needed: Goonswarm.

Even those who don’t play or follow EVE may have heard that name before. They’re the single most notorious player group in the game, and the one with the most enthusiasm for self-promotion. The original core that made up the alliance came from the Something Awful forums in 2006, so they were already well-established by the time I started playing.

Propaganda is part of EVE. This is Goonswarm propaganda (they're the bees with the cigars). By the hyper-capitalist standards of EVE, Goons are relatively communist, having higher taxes and services than most alliances. One benefit of this is attracting pilots, but the main benefit is that you can use old Soviet posters and stuff. I wasn't able to find out who made this particular image.
Propaganda is part of EVE. This is Goonswarm propaganda (they're the bees with the cigars). By the hyper-capitalist standards of EVE, Goons are relatively communist, having higher taxes and services than most alliances. One benefit of this is attracting pilots, but the main benefit is that you can use old Soviet posters and stuff. I wasn't able to find out who made this particular image.

It’s difficult to quickly summarize what Goonswarm is or what its effect on EVE has been. Entire books have been written about them (and, according to the description, that one only goes up to 2009), and they’ve been instrumental in nullsec politics ever since they were formed. As this series continues, we’ll learn more about their culture and organization, but for now know that they had the following qualities:

  1. At the time they didn’t actually control any space, which was unusual for them. They’d recently lost theirs (which is a whole other story, no one has time to tell them all), and not too long after I joined they moved to a region in the north called Deklein to crash on the virtual couch of a friendly French alliance called Tau Ceti Federation or TCF. While they didn’t have any systems then, it was understood by all that they were too numerous and aggressive to crash on the couch forever. They’d have space again before long. That meant that it would make sense for them to be looking for renters.
  2. They had an existing community of scammers that swapped tips and occasionally backed each other up when people tried to check their stories out. In keeping with their deliberately cultivated rowdy reputation, scamming was allowed and even encouraged in Goonswarm, including (at the time) rental scams. I wouldn’t be breaking any of their rules, so it wouldn’t even matter if I got caught – I had no reputation to lose anyway.
  3. Their CEO, a famous player called TheMittani, didn’t like renting space. He had a sort of aesthetic objection to what he called the “renter model,” and often wrote that he didn’t think “space slumlording” (as he put it) was a healthy direction for the metagame to take. What this meant is that my rental scam wouldn’t be spoiling the kill for any actual renting of Goonswarm space.In fact, when I talked to some others in the scamming community, they said that I might even be able to get an officer or other high-ranking Goon to lend me their credibility in exchange for a percentage of any take. I never took anyone up on that offer, since I worried that Goonswarm would eventually start renting, and I didn’t want to exactly advertise my activities to the bigwigs if they were considering that. But it gives a sense of what Goonswarm’s culture was (and to some degree, still is) like.
  4. They were easy to “inflitrate,” if that’s even the right word. They happily let newbies join – part of their strategy as an alliance is a sort of online levee-en-masse, so they recruit too many people for effective vetting to be possible. Practically everyone has at least one spy in Goonswarm, and the alliance leadership accepts that as a cost of the strategy. So getting in was no problem – I just created a new character and joined through what were basically the proper channels.

I now had the Goonswarm ticker (each corp and alliance has a five-digit alphanumeric designator, like tickers at a stock market) behind my name. I wasn’t just some rando anymore. I was Some Rando [LODRA]Their ticker at the time, it’s since been changed to CONDI, but most people just call them Goons., and my claims of being an official, sanctioned Goonswarm landlord would now be at least slightly plausible.

I'm not one of the people who hates current EVE exactly, but I still find this funny - it's a fan-made part two of the original, possibly by the redditor u/ajttja. The original, by the way (as a commentor pointed out last week) isn't by xkcd, it's just in a similar style.
I'm not one of the people who hates current EVE exactly, but I still find this funny - it's a fan-made part two of the original, possibly by the redditor u/ajttja. The original, by the way (as a commentor pointed out last week) isn't by xkcd, it's just in a similar style.

I already had a list of targets ready. A common joke is that EVE is a game you play with spreadsheets, and in this case that was true. For a while I’d been writing down the names and corporation sizes of promising jackasses I’d found on the game’s official forums and storing that and other information in a spreadsheet that I called my chump list. It had over fifty names on it at one point, though I never got around to trying all of them. The pitch went something like this: TCF is going to hand over their space in Deklein to us and we’re looking for renters – but quietly. We don’t want publicity because our CEO is officially against renting as a practice. You’re one of the special, cool, important people selected for this program, but we need the first two weeks’ rent in advance. Oh, and also there’s a jump freighter service if you have any particularly expensive stuff you want to trust us with.I wasn’t a jump freighter pilot myself, but there were plenty in the alliance, including ones that were willing to pitch in on scams of various types.

Of course, the real thing was more long-winded and official sounding, but you get the idea. While I was working my pitch, I figured that I might as well actually participate in alliance activities. After hearing about it for so long, I wanted a chance to experience the nullsec metagame firsthand. So in future entries I’ll tell two parallel stories: that of my off-and-on career in space crime, and a sort of grunt’s-eye-view of what life in a sovholding alliance is like.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Incidentally, if you’re ever watching a movie or something and someone pulls money out of their pocket to bet it, they’re violating poker etiquette.

[2] In fact, when I talked to some others in the scamming community, they said that I might even be able to get an officer or other high-ranking Goon to lend me their credibility in exchange for a percentage of any take. I never took anyone up on that offer, since I worried that Goonswarm would eventually start renting, and I didn’t want to exactly advertise my activities to the bigwigs if they were considering that. But it gives a sense of what Goonswarm’s culture was (and to some degree, still is) like.

[3] Their ticker at the time, it’s since been changed to CONDI, but most people just call them Goons.

[4] I wasn’t a jump freighter pilot myself, but there were plenty in the alliance, including ones that were willing to pitch in on scams of various types.



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43 thoughts on “The Other Kind of MMO: Space Ethics

  1. Laser Hawk says:

    I realize that in a game where scams are considered “fair” this might be out of place, but I joining goonswarm and scamming someone made your faction rep with me drop by 50 points.

    1. Hector says:

      Whereas for me, on the other hand, joining Goonswarm is -100 Rep but sharing hilarious EVE stories is +150. By god I shall never play it, but it’s fun to read about all the trouble other people went though.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      I kind of agree, and feel like Bob might have taken some levels in Ethical Contortionist to come up with an ‘I’ll scam people but in a okay way’ justification…

      …I can see the other side, given how part of EVE’s selling point is that there isn’t much in the way of policing and it’s in some ways a PvP free-for-all, anyone who plays up has signed up for whatever happens, in a sense. It in no way stops what he’s doing being a scam, but when in scam-Rome….

      (I have a similar view of Casinos: thinking of going to one? Go and check out the odds on the games; it’s not that hard.
      Still want to risk your money? Well that’s your problem, and don’t say you weren’t warned.)

      1. Thomas says:

        Given that about most of the stories of EVE online that make it to the outside of the world are tales on cons, theft and treachery I think it’s reasonable to think of it as an acceptable way to play the game. Everyone playing EVE would be a lot less proud of playing EVE if no-one indulged in the dark arts.

        1. Chad Miller says:

          In the brief time I played EVE the PvE content was so light that it’s hard to imagine anyone getting deep into it without realizing what a dog-eat-dog game it is. Unlike a lot of MMOs, PvP combat flags are always active and “nullsec” means “areas where there are no NPC guards at all and you can be killed at any time.” Players generally know what they’re getting into.

      2. tmtvl says:

        If he goes scamming dickweeds, then I kinda feel the same about it as I do when Lupin steals from mobsters. Sure, it isn’t noble, but it’s damn nice to see them get their comeuppance.

        Fewer people may consider these to be equivalent situations, but to me they seem close enough.

      3. Hector says:

        This *is* EVE gameplay though. There’s really nothing to do except screw over other players in some fashion. Unlike, say, Elite the play space is fairly limited for the size of the playerbase and in practice any big gains come at the cost of other players. This is deliberate choice by the devteam.

  2. Agammamon says:

    You’re one of the special, cool, important people selected for this program, but we need the first two weeks’ rent in advance.

    You, of course, made a Minmatar character to fulfill the ‘Nigerian Prince’ expectations in full?

  3. Steve C says:

    This is the real reason I never gave Eve a chance. I like what I assume is the fundamental gameplay of Eve. Problem is this kind of stuff I have no desire to participate in, police nor be tangentially related to in any way. I understand people find that kind of stuff fun without the slightest understanding of why.

    It reminds me of the Black Hat in Westworld. I don’t get the appeal. Furthermore I don’t want to play with people who do.

    1. sheer_falacy says:

      Yeah this just sounds awful.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Scams like these are definitely not my thing, I don’t have the people skills for one (I’d make an excellent mining drone though), but I think I can see the appeal in living in the “space wild west” where things like this happen.

    2. Erik says:

      For me, like Dark Souls (and most platformers), this is a perfect example of Games for Someone Else.

      For that reason, I’m actually looking forward to an account of what it’s like from the inside. I can already tell that yes, I’d hate the game, but I’ll enjoy the story.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Same, this is not a game I’d enjoy playing, but I enjoy hearing about other people playing it. (And that’s fine, there are tons of games like that.) I’ve read a few stories about the “biggest ever fleet battle record being broken again” in EVE over the years.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          I’m in this camp, too. I’d be terrible at the game and have a horrible time being terrible, but I love reading about how this stuff works.

    3. ElementalAlchemist says:

      without the slightest understanding of why

      Human nature. It’s not something particular to EVE, it’s why a lot of people play multiplayer games period. The ironic thing is most of the losers that perpetuate this sort of thing online are merely just kicking the can down the road. They were likely bullied in real life, so an imaginary strong and powerful online persona is where they get to extract their revenge (albeit on some other poor, completely innocent, bastard).

      1. tmtvl says:

        Ooh, psychology. Lessee now… projection! Classic case of projection, no doubt about it.

      2. ContribuTor says:

        Eh. To some degree, the desire to create, explore, and inhabit a character that’s not like yourself is part of the appeal of role playing games. And the desire to inhabit such a character isn’t necessarily indicative of trying to work out some deep personal trauma.

        The vast majority of real people I’m aware of would probably fit the alignments of Lawful Good or at least Lawful Neutral. I think someone playing as Chaotic Evil is an interesting choice, and doesn’t have to mean you’re someone looking for revenge on an uncaring world that rejected you. Certainly if you WANT to play out a revenge fantasy, a game is a relatively space to let off that type of steam. It’s just not the only reason.

        I’ve played a number of characters in various games (online multiplayer, though many pre-graphical-mmo era) that weren’t particularly like me, and tried to do so in character. I’ve played male and female characters. I’ve played paladin-good characters and evil bastards. I’ve played characters who treat other people transactionally rather than as human beings. Sometimes I just genuinely wanted to explore “What makes a person like this tick?”

        Not saying you’re wrong about why some people choose to go that route. But the “I bet they were bullied as a kid” quick read can quickly go down a path that I think is really destructive. It’s not a long leap from there to “kids who play violent video games are junior psychopaths” rhetoric. (NOT accusing you of that, just where I see some people take similar arguments)

        Personally, never got into EVE, even though I’m arguable “target demo.” Not so much the “learning curve” but more that I missed my window. I tried to get into it at a time when the culture and meta were well established, everyone spoke in shorthand, and a significant amount of the community was downright hostile to newbies who didn’t know the game as well as people who had been playing for years. Had some bad early experiences, and decided this wasn’t a culture I wanted or needed to be part of.

      3. Steve C says:

        Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean “why” in that I need it explained. It is a bit like the casino example above. I thoroughly enjoy board games. Do not see the appeal of spending money at a casino. I know someone who is big into hunting and fishing and finds it fun. The idea of getting up before dawn to go sit in a cold damp marsh fills me with revulsion. That’s not my idea of fun. I haven’t a clue why anyone would enthusiastically choose to do that.

        Same thing with Eve and willingly choosing to scam and dealing with scammers. Note I get roleplaying and roleplaying games. I enjoy that. This is very different in my mind. Hence the comparison to the Black Hat. The difference between roleplaying and what happens in Westworld is that in roleplaying you are describing those things. But with Eve or the Black Hat you are actually doing those things. All that has changed is consequences.

        When I say “I don’t understand why” I mean I don’t know what it feels like to commit fraud. And I don’t want to. The point I’m making is that to me it is something to avoid, not something to seek out. Just like my friend sitting in a marsh, you do you. But I’ll never understand it.

    4. tmtvl says:

      I think the comparison Bob made with poker is quite apt, as that game is 10% about luck and 90% about trying to scam the other players.

      1. Steve C says:

        As someone who plays poker, I think it is a ‘reasonable comparison’ but not ‘apt’. I find poker to be a game about trying to make smart decisions in a probability space using incomplete information while opponents attempt to do the same. I don’t see it as ‘scamming’ at all unless there’s slight-of-hand or marking cards or something. It’s like using camouflage in a game of paintball. It goes too far to call it scamming.

        1. Hector says:

          I believe the point is that Poker is competitive game where deception for gain is expected. People go in knowing that the case.

          1. Steve C says:

            I get that, and I’m saying it is incorrect. Poker is about trying to figure out the meaning behind your opponent’s actions. If it was really about deception, you would be announcing exactly what your hand is. Or you’d say you bet 200 when really you bet 20. Or dealing from the bottom of the deck. “I have two aces so you should fold.” Those are all deceptions. Betting high or betting low isn’t a deception. Because the person betting isn’t the one assigning meaning to the action. It is the person who reacts to the bet that is assigning the meaning.

            Another important factor is there’s no cooperation in poker. Cooperating is explicitly against the rules. If it was possible to cooperate and you lied about it then it would be deception. The kind of deception in EVE is about pretending to cooperate. It is a very different beast.

  4. OldOak says:

    One thing that really makes EVE appealing is the quality of the screenshots. Even the “in-station” images are impressive, but the space based ones really stand. They have something distinctive, that detaches them from similar games. One very close and with similarly distinctive screenshots is the Egosoft’s X series of games, but their impact still doesn’t get on par with what you get in EVE.
    Also there is a lot of (some quite of high quality) fan lore to raise the interest for their universe, but the high quality of the trailers the company produced, and meeting that visual quality in game, is one of their greatest achievements.
    There was one expansion where they had someone mind blowing backdrops, I couldn’t help but do the 2 weeks trial in the day. Although I don’t MMO on principle, and, moreover, don’t “rent” MMO time from the providers, I have an alpha account nowadays with EVE, just to sometimes enjoy the surroundings. Luckily, there was the EVEmu project that, although didn’t get to a really playable place, allowed for safe and nice journeys in the whole universe they managed to populate.

  5. Paul Spooner says:

    Said it before and I’ll say it again. I never got into Eve, but I’ve really been enjoying this series.
    I like the “money on the table” justification. Makes a lot of sense.

    1. MelTorefas says:

      Yeah same on all counts. EVE is definitely the sort of game where, if you have chosen to participate (and especially, like you said, in nullsec), you have chosen to accept the risks involved. In a game where scamming is against the TOS that would be a different story, but my understanding is that EVE’s whole “thing” is not having those kinds of restrictions.

      1. Thomas says:

        It creates fun gameplay on the other side too. You could be a con artist, or you could be the person who figures out how to help people navigate these interactions without getting scammed in a world where con-artists can exist.

        There are EVE players who make their money in the game by offering a professional Escrow service, and building up an ironclad reputation that they can be trusted to be an impartial arbiter in trade deals. There are people who run successful delivery services based on 1) getting your items to a place, and 2) not stealing it when they do.

        Even in the most filthy corps, people have to figure out ways of vetting people, and building organisation structures that minimise risk and allow things to work smoothly. There’s something very cool about building a system like that yourself.

        1. Decius says:

          All of the escrow services are based on the idea “We get paid so much more for our reputation of not stealing from clients than we could steal at any one time that it doesn’t make sense for us to steal”.

          Not just in EVE, but also outside of it.

          1. Thomas says:

            That’s what I love about EVE, seeing those interactions that keep the real world normal and seeing them organically created in a virtual world

      2. The Puzzler says:

        If we play Monopoly, and I steal money out the bank, I can’t just say, “Of course I did that. It’s Monopoly. Stealing is half the fun.” But if we agree to play Cheaters Monopoly, it would be OK.

        Different games have different deals in terms of what you’re allowed to do and lie about.

        Are the rules of what’s acceptable in EVE sufficiently clear? There’s probably a EULA that players accept without reading. For example, I’d imagine that guessing someone’s password and using it to steal all their stuff would be against the rules. But I doubt there’s any moment the game explicitly says, “Broken in-game promises are perfectly acceptable in EVE. If you get scammed this way, it will be considered your own fault and you will have no redress. Either click Yes to agree to these rules of conduct or No to uninstall.”

        So I can imagine people’s feelings getting hurt when they spend sixty hours grinding and then lose everything because they trusted you.

        1. FluffySquirrel says:

          Yeah, the money on the table thing does not work as justification to me. That’s just an excuse to tell yourself

          And no, I can’t say if I got scammed, I’d immediately feel the need to go and scam someone else to feel better about it.. I struggle to understand that way of thinking. It’s not even revenge.. revenge would be understandable to go after the person who got you or blah.. but it just take it out on some random other person is.. odd

  6. Decius says:

    What “Table stakes” actually means is a betting limit- if someone raises you more money than you have on the table, you don’t need to bring more money out to call the bet. You may take money from your pocket during a hand to call, but not to raise.

    You can also take money out of your pocket without limitation between hands.

    The poker comparison you were looking for is money in the pot- that’s what belongs to the game. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t, and sometimes you have to put more in to get it.

    The think about scams in EVE is that everybody knows that they’re obvious scams, but some people are so smart that they know that nobody would try an obvious scam, so this one must be real. When in fact, there are indeed people who are two steps dumber or one step smarter than them, and the obvious scam is in fact, obviously a scam.

    The amazing thing is that anyone manages to rent space at all.

    1. ivan says:

      The think about scams in EVE is that everybody knows that they’re obvious scams, but some people are so smart that they know that nobody would try an obvious scam, so this one must be real. When in fact, there are indeed people who are two steps dumber or one step smarter than them, and the obvious scam is in fact, obviously a scam.

      To be honest, the “in EVE” was unnecessary.

    2. Daimbert says:

      I think that the comparison that he’s more looking for is the ante or the blinds, as those are money that you have to put in just to play the hand and you won’t get it back if you decide not to play.

      That being said, I looked up table stakes and, in general, playing by that means that you can’t add money to your stake during a hand and can’t take that money off the table until you leave the game. There are generally probably exceptions for the case where someone is trying to push you out of a hand just by having more money — the “add more money to call” — but in general that’s how it works. You can also have open stakes where anything goes.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        There are generally probably exceptions for the case where someone is trying to push you out of a hand just by having more money — the “add more money to call”

        That’s not an exception; it’s the reason why “all in” is a thing. If someone runs out of money on the table, then they can’t be made to bet any more money (though if more than one other player is still in the hand, they effectively bet against each other. The all-in player can’t be made to fold, but can’t win any of this “extra money” that they aren’t able to match)

  7. Shamus says:

    Note for Bob and for anyone wondering why there are sometimes dead image links:

    I use the Cloudflare content delivery network. When your web browser requests an image, the request goes to Cloudflare. Cloudflare then turns around and asks my website for it. It then keeps that image in case anyone else in your part of the world asks for it.

    This is lovely. It greatly reduces the load on my humble server, which saves me a ton of headaches. The downside is that if my website doesn’t have the image when CF asks, then CF will just remember that the image is a dead link and won’t ask again for a few hours.

    So if ANYONE (public, author, me) attempts to read a page before the image is up, then NOBODY will see the image for the next few hours.

    To fix this, I have to log in to Cloudflare and tell it to clear that one file from the cache. Sometimes if I’m lazy / busy I take the path of least resistance and wait for the problem to resolve itself.

    And now you know.

  8. Lasius says:

    If any one is interested, this is what the German text below the graph says:

    “Animal cruelty laws would ban small mammals from playing Eve at this point, since the drudging and repetetive activities could cause them to develop serious behavioral abnormalities.”

  9. Lino says:

    I’m standing on the edge of my seat!

    1. Christopher says:

      Ditto.

    2. tmtvl says:

      I’m sitting on the edge of my Stand.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        Stephen King really does write some massive books.

  10. General Karthos says:

    I’ve had a positive experience (granted, a few years old) with EVE. I was just casually mining and I mentioned in chat that I was working towards my first million, and one of the people in the system just gave me a million. So I said, “okay, now I’m working towards my first ten million” and someone else gave me ten million. Someone else gave me a hundred million. I was able to get a good mining ship with help from a corp I joined, and did quite well for myself, but eventually, time and commitments elsewhere pulled me a way from EVE, and now I’ve been away for a few years. No idea if my corp even still exists, since it was fairly small by EVE’s standards.

    I sometimes think about going back, but then I realize that I just don’t have the spare time I’d need.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Long running MMOs can get that, as you end up with experienced players who have more money than they know what to do with and sometimes decide to help newbies get up to speed. I’ve seen credit giveaways in The Old Republic and seen things like costume contests in City of Heroes that are mostly for that sort of thing.

      It’s kinda like life: there are jerks and nice or nicer people, and your impression of things will depend on which of them you encounter more often.

  11. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

    Ever since I was a grad student, I’ve wanted to study the EVE nul-sec community. The stories were fascinating, and the way they built organizations to produce and govern nul-sec always struck me as interesting lessons for how governing structures form (my interest) and how decisions are made and carried out (ditto).

    Alas, my idea of making a character, getting a small ship and flying out into NulSec to broadcast “I am a professor, would you be willing to sit for an interview?” never got off the ground.

    Then the wars stopped, Nul-Sec became boring, and also I just had other fish to fry. It reminded me of a colleague I have who studied emerging democracies: “Mexico was fascinating until they actually had a free and fair election…”

    Now he studies Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

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