Crossing the Line

The Imperium News (formerly published an investigative report on the alleged suicide attempt by "Olivia", a supposed EVE Online player, exposing it as a scam. The podcast Talking in Stations further explored the story. It has been further corroborated by investigation by relevant in-game corporation leaders. Now, the identified offender's EVE Online character has biomassed.

I will not recap the entire history of this sad episode - you can read the sources above for that background - but I would like to comment on various implications of this revelation.

Exposing the Evil

A lot of good and well-intentioned people were taken in by this hoax, and ran immediately to support "Olivia", using the alleged incident to highlight the evils of online bullying. Proto at The Neocom published an impassioned post. Charles White, known in game as Max Singularity (a.k.a., the "Space Pope") produced a video condemning the offenders. Many others published tweets and posts in support.

Well-deserved kudos go to the Imperium News team for taking the time to investigate the story and report their findings. They exposed a sick individual who was fabricating a very serious Real Life tragedy for in-game advantage. While EVE Online tolerates scamming within the game, this incident stepped outside of that boundary to prey upon people's good nature, solely for personal gain. That is not just a violation of CCP Games policy - it is criminal behavior, and should be condemned and prosecuted accordingly.

Some may dismiss this affair as inconsequential. After all, no one was really hurt or in danger, and at worst, some gullible people were taken in by what could be argued to be a harmless ruse. There was no physical damage or material loss involved.

I don't agree - this incident cannot be so easily forgiven and forgotten. Faking an attempted suicide to scam people not only crosses the line of tolerable behavior, but jumps aggressively across. It trivializes an extremely serious issue - the pain and danger of depression - solely for selfish gain. It makes no difference where that gain was to be acquired. This isn't someone just role-playing in a game - when it crossed over into Real Life, it became the work of a sociopath.

Our Community's Goodness

Despite the dirtiness of this sad incident, I was heartened by the people who rallied to support "Olivia" - even though they were in error, their intentions were all honorable, honest and good.

Some have said that there is no such thing as an "EVE community" - that we are simply a collection of tribes enjoined only in competition with one another. This is an extremely cynical view, shattered easily whenever an incident like "Olivia" happens. If an EVE Online player is in trouble, I see hundreds of people rushing to them in support, both in and out of game. By and large, we are a generous group with our time and our treasure, and eager to come to the aid of those in need.

From my perspective, the "Olivia" incident once again illuminated the pervasive goodness of the EVE Online player community. Max Singularity published a follow-up video, once the truth of the situation came to light, which I think illustrates this point very well:

To those who were taken in by "Olivia", and stepped forward to help, I say this: thank you. Those who take action to help a fellow human being - especially if they do not know them personally - are valuable people indeed. We need more of them in the world. Who would have thought that we have so many of them in a group of dedicated Internet spaceship pilots? It's a wonderful thing, and should be celebrated and applauded.

Fly safe! o7