Has EVE crossed the moral line – forever?

Has EVE Online irrevocably crossed a moral line, to become a game where in-character PvP will necessarily extend to out-of-character, real world attacks?

Sounds like a pretty extreme stance to take. But that’s the argument that Jester of Jester’s Trek – one of the best-known, longest-running EVE blogs in existence – is making today. Upon being asked if he thinks EVE will ever cross the moral line, he responds, eloquently and with many examples, that we’ve passed that point several years ago

“It’s in our rear view mirror. EVE passed the line several years ago. Further, we’re never going to get back on the right side of the line. EVE is always going to be a game where nasty in-game behavior sometimes crosses the line into nasty out-of-game behavior. This behavior is built into EVE’s DNA.

Why yes, that is a stark answer. But it’s true nonetheless.

Nasty in-game behavior crossing the line into nasty out-of-game behavior is something that’s been going on for years. Hell, when I first started thinking about getting into the 0.0 sov war myself, one of the first stories on this line I heard about was a Russian player who wanted to cut the power to the house of a Titan-flying player. Is it true? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But it feels true and doesn’t generate a lot of disbelief. “CCP often touts this sort of thing with the bland marketing lingo of ‘player generated content.’,” Mittens said three years ago.

And you know what? They still do. “EVE players are the nicest people in the world,” Hilmar said at this year’s Fanfest, “because they get all their nastiness out of them in game.” I think we all recall what happened that same day. And it didn’t happen in game.”

For those who aren’t aware, the incident that Jester is referring to here is one in which Alexander “The Mittani” Gianturco, one of EVE’s best-known players, called for his followers to harass a mentally ill player into suicide.

This is pretty powerful, scary stuff – all the more so because it’s coming from Jester, who is a respected source on all things EVE. And he’s happy to supply examples, too – plenty of them – along with explanations of just why EVE can take people to such unpleasant places.

Of course, EVE isn’t always like this – there are plenty of players who enjoy it without taking their aggression outside the game. But nonetheless, it’s disturbing to hear Jester say that out-of-game actions are an inevitable part of EVE’s makeup. Does that mean that the entire MMO is beyond the pale? Should it even continue to run? Or is this out-of-game spillover just an unpleasant consequence of a fascinating hobby, like broken bones in snowboarding or concussions in boxing?

What do you think?