It seems virtually impossible for me to not open my bi-weekly piece without telling you that once again, the game of EVE Online has changed. And happily enough for my fingers, these changes do seem to occur in the aforementioned bi-weekly phases and often wrap themselves up in neat little packages ready for me to digest when the time comes for me to put the proverbial pen to paper. Had everything gone according to plan I would be sitting here telling you about Fanfest 2012, and all of the magical things that happened and we'd all be gathered around talking about it. But as EVE Online regularly shows us, few things ever tend to go according to plan.
Our story begins with Goonswarm Federation CEO, and Council of Stellar Management 6 chairman The Mittani being handed a microphone on stage and beginning what he would later recount as one of his lowest moments in EVE Online. Just a few days earlier a member of Goonswarm Federation had successfully polished off a tasty 80 Billion ISK scam which was sometime in the works, and executed with the sort of tactful grace that rewards he who dares with such a bountiful yield. However, the player in question hereafter referred to as W. was to become the centre of a controversy that quickly overcame both of them.
Now it's important to note that the Internet is not short of people with emotional problems. Many of which are genuine, many of which are not. A long, ridiculous history of children grappling with their teenage identities has produced man lines of text in various blogs and journals over the years with people saying 'I'm going to kill myself' or something to that effect. And with this context in hand, it's easy to dismiss the notion that someone might actually do such a thing and then convey their emotions via the portal of the Internet after a scenario of negative reinforcement - such as having all of your assets in a game stolen, a game that for you is a last bastion of stability in a world that has crumbled around you. For W., EVE Online was that place.
W.'s story is an admittedly tragic one, but that’s a tale for another time. And with previously mentioned Casual Internet Suicide Note Syndrome in mind, when The Mittani took to the stage at Fanfest to berate W. for his suicidal statements, one could imagine he possibly had this context in consideration. Unfortunately, The Mittani did not understand just how deep and genuine W.'s sentiment truly was, and only days later did we find out that W. did in fact have plenty of things to feel potentially suicidal about.
And so we return to the man on stage with the silly Wizard hat doing exactly what has been done on almost every Alliance panel in the history of Fanfest, and doing exactly what gives people like myself and my associates in the gaming press the fuel to write our long-winded musings. The Mittani did what was wanted of him, The Mittani effectively played EVE, he berated his enemies, told stories of Goonswarm's victories, and told stories of tears harvested from 'Pubbies' the world over.
The eruption of outright rage that occurred as a result of his sentiment's towards W. were at first quite odd to me. Of all the horrors and all the social borders that EVE Online's player-base have danced on or across, this particular moment of transgression is not unique. After all, CSM Candidate Fon Revedhort was eligible for participation on the CSM and even received several hundred votes in the election despite actually having extremely controversial views on things such as Race and Religion, and proudly told everyone about them. And this is just one singular example of an individual, or group of individuals who regularly disregard any and all social convention and participate unrepentantly in the ever grinding wheel of Darwinism in EVE Online.
But I realize now in the settling dust of the events of the last few days that the story and the subsequent blaze surrounding the controversy had quickly raced beyond it being about the singular matter of The Mittani making a dangerous joke at W.'s expense. You see no other figure in EVE Online's history has been quite as polarizing as The Mittani. Simultaneously loved and utterly despised by the EVE Online community for his unquestionable, and almost unwavering personal and professional confidence. Much of it arguably rightly placed, and perhaps some of it accrued as a matter of paid interest. Smug, it seems, has a per-capita growth rate, and generous returns once invested.
With this single fumble, the circling vultures saw their one and possibly their only opportunity to dethrone a man, or rather an entity, who they felt had a long-due comeuppance. And with their target in sight: They struck. And how they struck. There are some inherent philosophical universal truths. My favorite and perhaps the most apt for this event is: The bigger they are, the harder they fall. This rings true for Stars, Buildings, Big fat guys such as myself falling out of bed, and even love/hate EVE Online celebrities such as The Mittani. A gaming media and EVE player feeding frenzy effectively broke out, they gorged themselves fat and dull on the sweet meats. And now I must play my role as the lion that waits with bated breath as they struggle to return themselves to the air away from the mess they've made.
You see in exposing the grotesque nature of The Mittani's statement, we have all made ourselves much more disgusting than his original drunken show. He who drank of the Jagerbomb Cup and supplemented with Smug wine looks not as pestilent as we who drank of our own self-satisfaction in his demise. The EVE Online community as a whole stood in line to show the world how viciously bloodthirsty we truly are, how unquenchable our desire to see each other dragged into entropic holes of despair is.
The assault on The Mittani's character quickly grew from exaggerated truths to outright lies. We claimed he used W.'s real name and set agents of despair upon him in the real world. He did not. We claimed that highly popular EVE Online community 3rd party Kugutsumen was his personal blog and staging point. It is not. We've used the term 'cyber-bully' to describe The Mittani and associated it with his real life name, a term which - if is truly applicable to him - we are, almost all of us in EVE Online, also guilty of being. In fact so ravenous have we been for his head, that we have potentially damaged his real world prospects for employment, as googling his real name and the term 'Cyber-bully', or even 'Cyber-Bully' and 'EVE Online' now offers us many articles and entries related directly to this fiasco.
And so while what The Mittani did was, in truth, wrong - so wrong in fact he has now paid the price with a Temporary Ban from EVE Online, subsequent removal from the seventh iteration of the Council of Stellar Management, and potential damage to his real world character. We must now be forced to admit that we as EVE Online players and to a degree the Gaming Media which helped to fan the flames are also guilty of the sin of Gluttony, and loss of our ability to see reason and act with reservation. All I know is that I've got an upset stomach, and can't seem to find the Pepto anywhere.