On June 30, 2016, a costly battle took place in it Eva: Online. An alliance of players calling themselves the Imperium – aided by allies in the game’s low-security region – destroyed four Titan-class ships (the game’s largest and most expensive) and dealt damage worth half a trillion of the in-game currency (ISK) on their enemies in the Money Badger Coalition (MBC). This battle was one of the biggest since the so-called Bloodbath of B-R5RB in 2014, resulting in losses of 11 trillion ISK, worth about $300,000 (£228,000) in real money.
The recent attack by the Imperium on the MBC is hardly a leftist event; Eve players are shooting apart almost daily. But this battle was special; it took place just days after the MBC declared it had won the game’s last full-scale war once and for all, with forum posts, fan sites and Facebook feeds containing links showing how the Imperium and its allies had been pushed back Eve‘s map of space. The MBC was gleeful in its declaration of victory in the months-long battle it had taken to name “World War Bee”; it was over and MBC had won.
“Our goal was to dismantle the CFC coalition [a looser collection of groups accounting for more than 40,000 players, including the Imperium]said Killah Bee, a fleet commander in Pandemic Legion, which is part of the MBC. “We have dismantled the coalition – all that remains is the Imperium, the others have left – and we have the North [territories]. That’s what we intended to do.”
However, check out TheMittani.com, a major Eve fan news site, or even SomethingAwful.com, and a whole different story emerges. Both sites are supporters of the Imperium – whose eventual leader leads the former – and by extension the Goonswarm, a coalition of factions headed by the Imperium. To hear them tell it, World War Bee (a name they thoroughly resent) is far from over. In fact, it’s just beginning.
“The war is not over at all,” says the Mittani himself, Alex Gianturco. “Everything of [what you’re hearing from the MBC], including the declaration of victory, is what we predicted they would do after just a few months – so we’re right on track. They have now started to fight in earnest. We, on the other hand, have been very aggressive in dropping Citadels [space stations] and assisting chunks of the MBC against each other. I think our enemies don’t want to admit this.”
This all sounds strange; conflict shouldn’t be up for discussion in a video game. In most games you have no doubt that you are under fire from your opponents. So what gives? Why are two of Eve‘s major factions not only at odds with each other in the game, but in total disagreement over whether they’re fighting at all? The answer lies within Eve‘s grand story and players’ tenacious determination to own it.
In Eve, just like in the real world, the winners write the history books. Or blog posts, as the case may be.
Spin a yarn
Eve’The story is written by the players. While almost every other story-based game, including almost all other MMOs, has a plot based on the developer’s vision, Eve’s lore does not depend on what the developer CCP wants, but on the actions of its dwindling, but still sizeable, player base. In Evelegendary characters are not controlled by AI, such as the iconic Garrosh Hellscream or Sylvanas Windrunner in World of Warcraft– they are real people.
The reason for this is due to the structure of the game. Eve is divided into three main regions: High Security (High-Sec), Low Security (Low-Sec), and No-Security (Null-Sec).
High-Sec is the starting area, where players get to grips Eve‘s mechanics in relative safety through one of the worst tutorials ever made in gaming. The rewards for staying there are slight, but if someone tries to grieve a new player in this region, the AI will take them out. Low-Sec is where players take off their waterwings; it’s a little more free for everyone, but the game still offers some semblance of protection.
Null-Sec is the heart of it Eve, and it’s about as forgiving as the post-apocalyptic world it’s presented in crazy max. Darwin’s law applies here; only those who unite survive, and lone wolves are quickly picked up. Players unite into factions, which in turn work together as coalitions, with the larger ones having tens of thousands of members.
It is also in Null-Sec where the plot unfolds. Eve‘s myriad coalitions compete for territory and resources with resources both inside and outside the game. Yes, massive dogfights take place, ambushes are set and activated, and fleets move to contain bottlenecks on the map. But unlike other games, where conflicts are usually confined to the game itself, the wars are in Eve spilling out into the real world: Players make shady deals through chat channels, separate sleeper cells within each other’s ranks, and grieve enemies on social media.
The reason is that there is always a lot at stake Eve. Unlike other MMOs, where the player usually respawns after death with all of their weapons, skills, and equipment intact, Death in Eve can see assets that have taken hundreds of hours and piles of in-game cash reduced to ashes in the blink of an eye. Damage is permanent: if your ship is blown up Eveit’s over forever.
In an effort to control the narrative – especially when things aren’t going their way – players flood forums, fan sites and social media with disinformation and propaganda, making it impossible for outsiders to get an accurate picture of the state of play. Affairs. Jump on one Eve social media stream and you’ll see World War II posters photoshopped to represent the views of both sides of the war, lengthy propaganda videos on YouTube, and deep thinking pieces. In fact, an op-ed published by the Mittani during World War II cast doubt on the legality of IWantISK.com, an online “space casino” where players gamble with in-game money to win modules, ships, implants, or even ISK payouts. under the law of Meatspace Florida, the state where the site is located.
“It’s not Gamergate-level,” says Gianturco. “You don’t have people receiving, say, bomb threats. There have been death threats Eve, but nothing has ever reached the level of complete intimidation. In general, the community considers it all good clean fun. The metagame has always been there. People in the media will always see platforms like Facebook or Pastebin as a sign of modernization. In the past, interaction outside the game was limited to online forums.”
“CCP has a zero-tolerance policy for these things that happen on their official forums, but it’s so hard to oversee other forums,” said Peter Farrell, aka Elise Randolph, one of the senior members of Pandemic Legion. “The Eve community is robust and it is very difficult to control. The CCP has imposed severe bans when harassment has taken place on out-of-game forums and the end-user license agreement is broad enough to take action against just about anything. Hopefully we never have to see them use this.”
And yet, despite what some players claim, the levels of harassment in the game have now escalated far beyond a few crude photoshop jobs. There have been cases where factions launched DDoS attacks on their enemies’ communication channels just before a major battle, while key players were also anonymously sent photos of their homes by opponents as a form of harassment.
“As far as I know, no one inside Eve ever released the home address or anything like that,” says Farrell.Eve related forums and social media are some of the more prominent doxxing stories.”
According to Killah Bee, most of the metagame is initiated by individuals within each faction. It is not something that the fleet commanders on both sides usually coordinate.
“There are very small groups that do things like that. It rarely happens and it didn’t happen in World War Bee,” he says.