Oh those petty, petty moralitiesPosted: 2010-01-01 Filed under: eveonline | Tags: eve online, moralities, psychology, pvp 7 Comments
I’m not a trusting person. When I’m in a room with someone, anyone and they’re holding a knife for whatever reason, I’ll keep finding reasons to stare at them until I’m reasonably certain that if I turn my back that I’ll hear them picking up the knife. With that in mind, you can imagine my Eve experience.
As I try to tempt fate as little as possible in life, I extend that principle to Eve, which wasn’t much of a leap, seeing as it seems that half the time Eve is trying to kill me and the other half is spent trying to scam me.
The scariest part of nature in man and animal is justification. I heard once that a respected psychologist had said that the only people able to consciously hurt themselves with intent to kill were insane. That’s stupid, all it takes is the right motivation. Being human myself, justification is an all too familiar subject. If someone told you to burn down an empty house, you’d probably refuse. But, if they offered enough money/or not to kill your family, your mind would probably tell you to burn that sucker.
My mind, and probably other people’s minds, work on a risk/gain principle. If it cost you a dollar to pick up and keep a ten dollar bill, most of us would pick up that bill faster than if they were in a restaurant after dinner with an attractive member of the opposite sex.
Building on that example, say that you had a 50/50 chance of getting the ten dollar bill. Some of us would take it, others wouldn’t. Here’s where I’m going with this:
If someone gave you ten dollars and told you to punch a starving kitten, most of us wouldn’t do it. Most of us also wouldn’t do it for twenty. Same for a hundred. But a thousand? a hundred thousand? Eventually, at some gain, be it enough money to live happily or the lives of your loved ones, you would punch the hell out of that starving kitten.
You sick bastard, you’ve just punched a starving kitten.
A fairly big factor in any risk/gain scenario is moralities. You would punch a brick wall in a heartbeat for ten thousand dollars, but a small animal would take some justifying that your gain would outweigh how bad the act would make you feel.
Drawing this back to Eve territory, you’re playing a game about internet spaceships. Taking something worth literally nothing from someone is so easily moralized that it’s simple. You can convince yourself that that Dominix is worth more to you than the dude who put the sell order up for 55k.
Another annoying bit about being human is sum wealth relation, a term I’ve just made up, which applies to this scenario:
If you’re driving far away from your house, thinking about how much you really want a lawn gnome, and see a house with fifty lawn gnomes outside it, justifying stealing one will be a hell of a lot easier than justifying stealing a lawn gnome from a homeless old lady trying to sell her one gnome to buy food.
Even though a home security system would probably be much harder than grabbing and running(the homeless are generally not very good sprinters), you’re gonna go to the house because your moralities would argue over how much the gnomes were worth to their respective owners.
Similarly, if I see a sell order for a domi from some dude for ten thousand and a thousand buy orders by the same guy for a thousand titans or something else that tells me he’s loaded, I’ll buy it in an instant. The sum wealth relation is essentially the bit of our moralities that reasons in how much whatever you’re doing will hurt someone compared to how much it will help you. In Internet spaceship land, it’s hard to hurt someone enough to feel bad about it, because you’re talking about bits of pixels.
The other way Evers avoid feeling bad about blowing up an Iteron V loaded with your proceeds from the last week of playing and now you’ve gotta do it all again……
Sorry, where was I?
Anyway, pretending that your character is someone else is a pretty easy way to skate around all the moral implications. Convincing yourself that you’re only role playing as a jerkwad pirate is one of the simpler ways to enjoy a guilt free experience.
Another way that I just remembered is convincing yourself that the victim deserves it. For example, if a 3 week old char in a CNR accidentally ejects, no-one within five systems will pause for a second to help him as everyone within seven systems tries to board the ship.
The last way Evers convince themselves that killing is awesome is ignoring. If you blow some dude up and then laugh at him, with a bit of thinking, you can suppress the guilt completely. I honestly can’t say much about this, because the only mental suppression I know about I made myself suppress in a cycle that…
Where was I?
Anyway, if anyone thinks there is another way people justify taking from another, I’d like to hear it. Happy new year, party was fun, piccys tomorrow.
If you take away accountability and punishment, people will do just about anything. I think that’s why you see so many people in EVE embracing play styles that negatively impact others. Since CCP doesn’t try to impose a moral accountability system into the game it just makes it that much more open to abusing others just because you can. I’m not saying all pirates are like this, but the ones who do not use real world morality online should be looked down upon instead of embraced. People try justifying it by saying it’s just a game but that’s just how they get around personal accountability. The thought processes you use in game relate to the way you act in the real world. The only difference is the real world has rules that have very dire consequences for actions that society deems improper and that helps steer people in the right direction.
If you want to see where I’m coming from, watch this video:
I really enjoyed your post here. Good points and lessons. I am the type you meantioned as a role-player. I have two accounts, one char is a helper, and the other is more of a pirate. As I role play these chars, they represent the yin an yang side of my personality in real life. I find it more interesting, personally, to create these chars and play them in third person rather than have a virtual image of myself, it’s my way of story-telling
I read that post twice but I’m not really sure I understand what you’re point is. Are you just asking everyone how they deal with the guilt or moral uncertainty that comes with destroying/stealing in game assets?
Morove I’m describing the ways that I can think of that people use that lets them willingly screw someone else over with no morale ramifications, and asking others if they have found other ways to skate around the moral consequences of making someone else’s life miserable. In a game about internet spaceships.
So yes, asking other people how they deal with the moral uncertainties was the point of the last sentence or two, after listing the ones I could think of.
Sometimes it’s simply a matter of sublimating your morality by turning it into a competition. It comes down to who can be the biggest jerk or most morally corrupt person their is. We don’t call it that, but that’s effectively what it is. My favorite example is the recording of the Enron guys who screwed everyone over and then joked about some fictitious grandmother now freezing in her apartment. The internal reward of being the best manipulator of energy prices replaced their inherent morality.
I find that Eve tends to encourage this behavior. It’s a very cruel place and people allow the idea that it’s a competition to replace their inherent morality. They don’t think of the other person on the other side freaking out because you just blew up everything they had. The victim is told to be more careful, but that’s like saying to murder, rape and fraud victims that they should have been more careful while encouraging the murderers, rapists and fraudsters to continue doing what they’re doing.
In Eve, the mentality is that everyone should be a victimizer, because otherwise you’re a victim. But ultimately that’s anti-social behavior (sometimes it seems bordering on psychotic).
Societies form around the idea of protecting each other. They acknowledge that protecting each other benefits everyone and allows people to work together towards common goals. The most successful corporations are going to be ones that have as a core principle one of society. They may form us and them mentalities with other societies (i.e. corporations), but internally they usually remove elements that are anti-social. This is the basic evolution of societal groups — get with the program or leave.
But social programming for people doesn’t happen for everyone and there are people out there who don’t have empathy because that part of the brain never developed (e.g. mirror neurons). Barred from societies that don’t tolerate their anti-social behavior they tend to look for places where competition and objectivism has replaced social norms. They tend to use phrases like “they deserved it” to justify their own behavior. But ultimately whatever the form of disconnect that allows them to push their fellow person in front of a train for their amusement, it still follows a form of anti-social behavior.
Some people are just little psychopaths.
I am clearly a psychopath and punch kitties IRL.