Needless to say, you all gave me a lot to think about this week on this topic.
My overall favorite comment, though, and the one that really crystallized my own thinking on the subject was one written by an anonymous commenter. Again, the comment itself was somewhat long but it's again worth your time to go read in full. But I quote it here in part (edited slightly):
The PVP people have it all wrong. They have had it wrong from Day 1. Listen to me carefully, not everyone wants to shoot stuff. Not everyone finds pleasure from harassment of others... See the problem is has been mentioned the strong get 90% of the benefits while the weak are basically punching bags that after a while quit. Most weak people see the benefits of fighting back, but say a 4-year vet kills a 3 month old character. Whoopdie-shit.. I can go ATTACK HIM? Yeah, no thanks.And yeah, I gotta say that kind of sums things up.
To me, the interesting thing about the argument that un-docking serves as consent to PvP is that the people who make this argument invariably make it from a position of enormous strength. They have all the power in the relationship: all the knowledge, all the power, all the training, all the money... everything! They are quite literally level 80 players preying on level 1 players and seeing nothing wrong with the relationship at all. I'm currently rereading Alex Haley's Roots and was struck by several passages written from the perspective of white slave-holders whose characters argue slavery is both good for the slaves and a moral good in and of itself. The slaves have cause to disagree. The argument being made about "undocking equals consent" is rather similar...
One of the most famous examples of the strong preying on the weak and arguing it was for their own good happened in July 2009. fmercury, observing a large cluster of mining barges ice-mining in close proximity in Kiskoken in high-sec, fitted out an Armageddon with smart-bombs and sufficent cap boosters to run them repeatedly until he was struck down by CONCORD. He killed dozens of Retrievers and several more expensive barges and exhumers that day, and podded virtually everyone involved. Two Orcas and a Mackinaw were all that survived it. fmercury's sec status dropped to -9.99 in an instant, but by a couple of weeks later he was able to travel in high-sec again.(1)
At the time, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, plus much proselytizing on how the victims could have prevented this fate (wearing a longer skirt, a higher neck line, and not so much perfume, perhaps?). But it's important to remember who had the power in the relationship. After it was all over, the victims chatted on their corporate comms on how to rebuild. Virtually all the victims were new players with very few resources. The meme that lives to this day from the event is one of the victims offering assistance to his corp: "I have 17 mil. Can I help?" This simultaneously represents both the epitome of the positive EVE social experience and the pathetic, laughable state of the power of the victims in this event. They lost everything. Thanks to the mechanics of suicide ganking at that time, fmercury probably made a small profit.
How did this meme survive? Because fmercury was spying on the corp comms of the victims and was recording it. I'm not even kidding: he had all of the power in this relationship.
But always -- do not forget this, Winston -- always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever.1984, of course. If EVE had a manual, that quote could be an introduction to one of the chapters. ;-)
Most often, these are the victims that "need to get more friends and they need to learn to defend themselves better in a PvP game." No doubt Alek would say that if they can't learn to PvP themselves, they should hire Noir. Someone ask him if he'll work for 17 mil.
Am I exaggerating to make a point? Maybe just a little. But... just maybe I'm not exaggerating at all. This sort of thing happens every single day in EVE and most of us have just come to accept it -- and the cost it wreaks in player unsubs -- as part of the game. The question that started the philosophical debate: should we? I still don't know.
Some of you have asked what my own opinion on this topic is. I wrote part of the answer back in 2011. The rest, I think I'm going to spend a day or three writing about this week.
Whew! Didn't intend for this post to go on quite this long. ;-) Thank you again to everyone who commented on the "Conflict of self interest" post!
(1) Full disclosure: fmercury, presently a member of Pandemic Legion, was at the time a member of the corp Queens of the Stone Age. This corp later went on to become part of the Rote Kapelle alliance, where they still are today.