Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Roleplaying "bros": the source of ALL drama

You wouldn't rob a stranger. You would definitely not kill a stranger just against boredom. You wouldn't rob the safe of your corporation. You wouldn't shoot your coworkers even if it was legal. Similarly, if faced with evil ones, you wouldn't attack them with blazing guns against odds. You wouldn't give a large sum to a young person just because he is an adorable newbie. You would definitely not work for your employer without payment.

You are neither a mass murderer, nor a saint. You are an ordinary person who plays a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, where your avatar is a villain or hero. A spaceship pilot, a dragon slayer, an orc or some other weird thing.

But some people take the game too seriously. Things happen to their avatar in-game, and they act like it happened to them, in real life. The internet is full of people raging over a game. People who post angry rants. And people who quit over something that happened to their avatar.

I was thinking about this, reading the parting words of a prominent member of the MMO group I play with. He was upset because another leadership member was removed due to inactivity: "people are all `Hey this is what you should expect because you were unavailable etc etc.` Sure, if we were a Fortune 500 company or even if we paid X some real life salary, I would agree. But let me tell you what the reality of this is. X is someone who has devoted ungodly amounts of time to this alliance over the past 18 months or so. X done this all for practically nothing".

This is absolutely wrong. X spent "ungodly amounts of time" in a video game. The reward for playing a game cannot be anything else than enjoying the game and maybe learning something from it. If such things didn't happen, then it was time badly spent. You can't expect other real life people reward you for playing a game.

Within the game, X roleplayed a director in a company. This avatar stopped doing the director duties and was removed. This happened in the game, according to the logic of the roleplayed world. Would you fire a friend of yours for being unavailable for a few weeks, for serious family matters? Of course not, you would probably help him with these matters.

But the sad truth is that we aren't friends. Our avatars are friends. We are roleplaying being bros, standing side by side till the bitter end against the evil spaceship empire. You, the person, the player, can expect nothing else from the fellow players than what laws, EULA and human decency demands. Things like "don't threaten him with IRL violence or call him a [racist homophobic slurs]". You definitely can't expect gratitude for playing the same video game.

Drama starts when someone perceives that his friends betrayed his trust. In the game our avatars are friends and one can betray the other. The other can retaliate in-game by hunting him down, getting him kicked from groups, and so on. But you, the player has absolutely no reason to be upset. The other guy beyond the avatar was never your friend. He was a random player whose avatar happened to come to the circles of your avatar. Thinking that random player as friend is just as crazy as performing violent crime against a player whose avatar violenced yours in the game.

Clarification: I'm not against statements like "he did so much for the alliance that he deserves X reward". Many people devote serious resources to help out in-game groups. But it must be understood as "he given up time spent roaming or time spent farming ISK for the alliance" and not "he given up real life time for his alliance". For a non-player family member "FC-ing in Asakai" and "running lvl4s in highsec alone" are both classified as "sitting at his computer playing EVE".

12 comments:

Lucas Kell said...

I in fact would probably shoot a co-worker if it was legal. Especially in my old job.

Anyway... Many people actually do become friends with the people in game. I have quite a few people I would now consider friends. We talk about real life things, not confined to the game and we make contact outside of EVE. EVE is that a platform for our common interests.

That said, even if people do not become friends, it's a matter of respect. Within the game levels of commitment to your alliance warrants you a certain amount of respect. If you've given everything to the alliance, alarm clocking to FC within every op, or solo hauled logistics for years, then you have given your alliance untold amounts of help by sacrificing your own time. If the alliance then doesn't respect you, and kicks you to the curb, think about how that impacts anybody else that is considering being that helpful. They wouldn't.

I assume we're talking about Beffah in this instance, who put in a lot of time for TEST and then was removed without warning. Most of the issue there wasn't the fact that she was replaced. She knew she wasn't about and someone had to perform her role. It was more an issue that without warning and without notification she was dropped. If I were another director in TEST, I'd think twice before devoting any personal time to the alliance at this point.

The reason in game alliances get compared to out of game companies is because the way their reputation works is the same. You wouldn't get a job with a company known for sacking it's employees without warning, so why would you join an alliance known for removing it's members the moment you have problems logging on?

Sure, the out of game classification of what he's doing is one thig, but we're not talking about how X's family see's EVE. We're talking about how the alliance sees it. At the end of the day, the alliances couldn't exists without the dedicated people it has that play almost entirely for their alliance. Those people should be treated well, and failure to do that leads to the alliance falling apart. Or you know, losing fountain overnight.

Maxim Preobrazhenskiy said...

There is a simple choice here.

Do you choose to wear ironclad armor of asociality and play the game on your terms for somewhat predictable results?

Or do you choose to invest yourself in learning about people you play with, getting to know them above and beyond their game personas and potentially forming some relationships with RL meaning? The cost here is that it is hard to tell where the online persona ends and the real person begins, and there is also the expense of leaving yourself vulnerable to misconduct.

The benefit is that sometimes you find some truly priceless relationships.

Gevlon said...

@Lucas:
How many people you know out of your alliance? 0.1%? 1%?

Save for very small gang groups, being real friends with significant amount of in-game "friends" is simply impossible.

So even if they are real friends, their ability to protect you from mistreatment is very little. So at the end you invest real time to help out total strangers.

I wouldn't call it smart.

@Maxim: my conduct with people is the standard anti-social: never turn your back on them!

Anonymous said...

> Save for very small gang groups, being real friends with significant amount of in-game "friends" is simply impossible.

Your example weren't random grunts - it was about TEST's former military director if I am guessing correctly. The inner leadership circle of most alliances know each other in real-life - visiting events like FanFest, EVE Vegas, the London meetups, ... to represent their alliance and get to know key players from other alliances is expected from them.

Yes, one random grunt doesn't know 0.1% of the other 12,000 random grunts in the alliance. But the 10 players that actually matter in the alliance have almost certainly met in real-life. If you look at the twitter feed of the director in question you will find that she did, for example, attend TESTival 2013 in Chicago; just as would be expected from a TEST director who is living in the US. On that level the relationships do extend to real-life and are personal, not just between avatars.

Lucas Kell said...

@Gevlon
It really doesn't matter how many people you know in the alliance personally, that was just 1 point I was addressing. Directly following I wrote: "That said, even if people do not become friends, it's a matter of respect". The alliance won't keep a good reputation if they mistreat members that devote time to the game. A little respect goes a long way to ensuring your reputation remains, and in a game like EVE, reputation is everything. If your alliance is known for dismissing directors at the first sign of trouble, it's less likely to attract better directors. What you end up with is an alliance that appoints a new military director in the middle of a war, who skips important timers in favor of waiting out for a battle that is an inevitable loss.

Your basic idea is that since you don't know these people in real life, what you do to them doesn't matter, but of course it does. If anything, because EVE is a game with less "mechanics" and less population than real life, the way you treat people is more important if you wish to keep your reputation. Sure as an individual, you can reroll and "reset" your reputation. An alliance can't reasonably do that.

Maxim Preobrazhenskiy said...

@Lucas Kell
I have read your post a couple of times to make sure, but it still seems to me that you somehow managed to arrive at the conclusion that treating people well is more important in Eve than in real life.

If you arrive at false conclusions, one of your premises is false. In this instance, it seems that you overvalue the importance of treating people well in online game.

Online communities are known for being generally harsher on their members than RL communities.

Lucas Kell said...

@Maxim Preobrazhenskiy
I'm not saying it's more important, obviously that's not the case. But in game everything is magnified. What you do is harsher and the responses are harsher. This means if you want to run a large alliance in game, your in game reputation is important to keep. Kicking a director for not being able to play for a short time while real life issues kept them away is not likely to inspire the better performing players to fill the void. A lot of people see this situation as the individual giving up countless hours of time but the alliance refused to give back anything. As soon as that person was unable to perform the role full time, even for a limited time, that person was dropped. Much of the population of EVE now knows about that, so what is there to inspire someone to take that role? Knowing that all it takes is a family member to get sick, and require more of your time for everything you have done for the alliance to mean nothing.

EVE is about the meta, you can't compare it to other games where any role can be filled by anyone. Many of the tasks undertaken at a director level of large alliances require real life personal skills to do. In this case, understanding of tactics and psychological warfare, the ability to select effective strategic targets, and the ability to raise the morale of thousands of people using text and voice comms. These are abilities that should be appreciated and respected and they weren't. The outcome of the war following the replacement of the military director, and that military directors god awful battle plan has shown that.

Seriously, as soon as I saw that post from TEST, I pretty much said "thanks for fountain". It was essentially: "We are going to not fight for anything except 6VDT, and we're going to make it well known this is the case so the CFC form up in huge numbers and can stock in advance. It's a guaranteed failure, but if you want to lose a ship, please come along". I'm fairly sure Beffah would have shot herself before saying some nonsense like that.

Anonymous said...

Drama aside, fuck em. Test doesnt need that shit right now, and what we do need is strong leadership, great training, and good numbers for fleets

And caps

So mildir helped a lot in 18 months, heres some isk and a medal, but right now we need things, and if you cannot provide, we will get someone who can. Talk again when youve back in regular.

Hate to say it, but the fun of thousands cannot rest on the whims of entitlement

Maxim Preobrazhenskiy said...

@Lucas

As i understood Gevlon's point, it has been less about whether the corp is right or wrong for kicking out the director, and more about whether the director's friend was right or wrong to expect any other treatment in Eve-space.

---------------------
@Gevlon
You seem to be saying that "Since any activity in Eve is essentially playing Eve, there is no reason to reward a person for choosing to spend time helping an alliance over any other Eve activity."

The part you are missing is that the evaluation of time spent is done by an entity which doesn't exist outside of Eve. An entity to which the time of Eve avatar IS lifetime.

Where would TEST be if not for all the avatar time invested in it?

You seem to cite drama as a drawback of reloplaying a part of virtual community. Well, this is actually not a drawback, it is a feature.
You need drama to have roles to play. No drama - no roleplaying.

Gevlon said...

@Maxim: he can expect rewards like ISK and capital ships or punishment in-game. The actions of the avatar affect the game world which reacts.

But the life of the real life person is irrelevant in this case. In the game world the avatar did not do his job and get fired. It doesn't matter why the player did not play.

Lucas Kell said...

@Gevlon
Of course it matters though. As with any employer, to fire an employee for failing to meet targets needs an understanding of why those targets are not met. If the reason is because the employee couldn't be bothered, then it shows a lack of interest which would give good reason to letting them go. If however it's for reasons beyond the individuals control, then you have to make a decision about the value of that employee. Is that employee doing a better job than most others could do? If so, then perhaps firing and a permanent replacement is the wrong decision. Perhaps the solution is instead splitting that persons responsibilities until they are back at 100%.

In the current situation, TEST have given themselves a lower quality military director and cost their reputation to other directors. Already people are beginning to jump ship and take what they can with them. As this happens more, more people will look at the situation and say "Well TEST are in dire straights. Wait a second, if I was in this state, TEST would simply kick me. Why should I treat them any better?".

At the end of the day, TEST need to look at their decision making right from the top. They can't act like nothing they do matters beyond the avatars it's effecting. EvE is all about the meta, which is an out of game entity. What a player, not an avatar, thinks is what is important. With the current mistreatment of director level alliance employees and the reputation the latest decisions from TEST command have left in their wake, I'd be surprised if anything less than a full cascading failure lurks around the corner.

Anonymous said...

As a non-troll but harsh question, how many close friends would you say you have out of game? 5? 10? 20? How do you interact with them? Do you have any real life friends you met through MMO gaming? It is possible that you think 'these people aren't actually friends' because you don't really understand their relationship.

For example, right now PL is planning 2-3 RL meetings. 2 in America, 1 in Europe. In addition, 2 more in America and one more in Europe just finished. All of these are not counting the huge PL presence at fanfest, many of the attendees barely play on Tranquility. Likewise, TEST just had TESTIVAL in Chicago (attended in part by ex-TEST dudes in PL, hence my knowledge of it).

The question is more complicated than you are making it out to be.

Also I was in comms with the PL Supercapital FC during Asakai. If some real life interruption had come up he would have told the family member that stuff was important and he was really busy. If he ran L4's, which he probably doesn't, he would surely afk for his family. Its different.

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