Some interesting things have happened lately, and I'll do my best to very briefly touch on a few of them. I am, of course, referring to the (most recent) controversy surrounding Erotica 1, Jita's most well-known isk-doubler.
Some weeks ago, I reported on a Bonus Round conducted... Hold on, wrong screenshot.
Bear with me, folks. I'm doing this on the fly, and some glitches are to be expected. Some weeks ago, I reported on a Bonus Round conducted by Erotica 1 and her escrow agents. The participant was a fellow named sohkar. Unfortunately, sohkar didn't win the Bonus Round, and he didn't take it particularly well. We all have our bad days.
Erotica 1's Bonus Rounds, conducted in TeamSpeak and the in-game "Erotica 1's Glory Hole" channel, have long been familiar to the EVE community, including CCP. sohkar's Bonus Round was publicized on EVE-O back in February, to mixed reaction. What wasn't widely known at the time is that at some point, CSM member Ripard Teg began to use his privileged access to CCP to lobby them to permaban Erotica 1. Judging by the fact that Erotica 1 wasn't banned, we can safely assume CCP had decided that no rules were broken.
Ripard then took his case to the public in a blog post. Right away it became clear that Ripard meant business:
"I'm not usually the type to call out individual EVE players on this blog. This time I'm going to. Erotica 1 is an EVE player. He is also a despicable, vile, evil human being....The crux of Ripard's argument is that because the Bonus Round took place over the course of hours, rather than the shorter, morally-pure "singing ransoms" that frequently go on in EVE, Erotica 1 was guilty of committing torture. Literally.
I assure you, Dear Reader, that there is evil in this world."
"This alternating of torturers allows one to deliver a masterstroke. The victim finally asks in exasperation how many songs the victim he have to sing. The torturer casually says 'We usually do ten or twenty songs.'Ripard then listed some comparisons between the Bonus Round and more conventional forms of torture. As an example, sleep deprivation was involved because the Bonus Round stretched well over an hour and sohkar had to stay up past his bedtime to continue participating. Ripard concluded his post with another call for Erotica 1 to be permabanned, along with punishments for the escrow agents.
Needless to say, at this point the victim snaps and goes into a profanity-laden rant to the very great amusement of the torturers. I do not use the word torture lightly. Look at any list of psychological torture methods you like. You will invariably find on that list..."
For the first time, a Jita isk-doubler had ignored the United Nations' Declaration on Human Rights. Since Erotica 1 is a member of CODEdot and there were many wardecs active, Erotica 1 was arguably guilty of violating the Geneva Convention. As you might expect, Ripard's readers were shocked and horrified to learn of the war criminal in their midst. Faded "Kony 2012" posters were stripped from the walls and replaced with pictures of the new enemy.
EveNews24 and the EVE subreddit and Massively.com carried the story. In a break with precedent, EVE-O mods actually allowed something interesting to be discussed in the General Discussions subforum rather than locking it or banishing it to another subforum.
The thread exploded with replies, mostly from the same people arguing about whether the Bonus Round was torture, and what authorities might get involved if CCP failed to ban Erotica 1.
There were varying reactions, of course. Erotica 1 forwarded me some of the EVEmail she received. Some supported her:
Others less so:
Tenla Amarr drew up a poster for those who felt Erotica 1 had not run afoul of international law:
Conspicuously absent from the hubbub was the voice of sohkar himself. How did he feel about all of this? In his blog post, Ripard Teg said the following:
"I encourage everyone reading this to listen to this bonus round in part or in full. I have listened to it in full. I owed it to the victim to understand his story. He lived through it."But no one asked the man himself. So sohkar contacted Erotica 1 in-game, and joined her on TeamSpeak to discuss the matter. Afterward, sohkar reported to the EVE-O thread:
"i just got off the TS with erotica 1 and i did this to try to put a end to all this stuff people are putting out there and get how i felt about everything. I think all you people need to drop it. the "bonus room" happened over a month ago. Ask yourself why is it now just coming out now? if it wasnt for the article written about it no one would know or care. I know some of you said its not about erotica 1 or myself and you maybe right but what is it about then that people got scam it happens all the time even in RL. I got scammed and made an fool of myself in the process he did not ask me to do anything that would personalize me to people i dont know other then by my voice. Scamming and bonus rooms are not the problem until it makes someone hurt then selfs or others til then you may not agree with mine bumping or scamming then dont do it. Just because you dont agree with it doesnt make it a crime"During the TeamSpeak conference, sohkar explained that as a result of Ripard Teg's blog post and all of the attention it received, he was kicked out of his corporation. As for Erotica 1, she vowed to conduct one final Bonus Round...
Sure enough, when I checked my wallet, I saw that I had received payment in full for 39,000 shares of New Order stock.
Erotica 1 was already the largest New Order shareholder, with 22 billion worth of stock in her name. You can never keep a good doubler down. She more than doubled her holdings with an additional purchase of 39 billion worth of stock, sending us over the 278 billion mark. That's over a quarter-trillion isk! Erotica 1 earns a Triple-Tredecuple Supreme Protector's Tip of the Hat™ for sending us past the 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, and 278 billion marks.
That's a lot of gank Catalysts to reimburse! But we'll do it. We're the New Order. We always do what needs to be done.
Nevertheless, nothing moves CCP like controversy. I can think of few times when a protest from the playerbase didn't result in them acting. Writing in the private subforum of the MinerBumping Forum, Erotica 1 informed us that she has been banned from EVE. The ban, as far as I can tell from what Erotica 1 wrote, is permanent.
Some might call upon me to disown Erotica 1, to distance myself from her. If all I knew of Erotica 1 were the charges of torture and war crimes, or if Erotica 1's Glory Hole conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way. But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the woman. The isk-doubler I met more than a year ago helped introduce me to the Jita scammer community. She spoke eloquently about the scammers' obligations to the Code, to care for the faithful and to withhold isk from the unfaithful.
In an earlier post, Hydra-Headed Lies, Part 1, I described my first experience in the Glory Hole:
"Aside from when I was a scammer, I have always made my isk the old-fashioned way, through good, honest, hard work. Everything I own in EVE has been earned by the sweat of my brow. EVE is a diverse place, and the New Order reflects that diversity. Not everyone comes from my simple, down-home background. Agent Erotica 1 occasionally invites me to take a trip into her glamorous, fast-paced world of isk doubling... Although the rapid-fire contracts weren't the kind of work I was used to, I was determined to prove that I was capable of handling whatever job the sophisticated, urbane Jita set could... Hydra complied with the terms of the deal by giving me everything he owned, even the shirt off his back. So far, so good. Hydra appeared to have total confidence in Erotica. Maybe these Jita folk weren't so bad after all. But my brief trip into the world of high finance was about to take a dark and unexpected turn."That has been my experience with Erotica 1 and her escrow agents. Like other predominantly scammer channels across highsec, the Glory Hole embodies the highsec community in its entirety: The air-traffic controllers and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other TeamSpeak channels run by those who engage in emergent gameplay, Erotica 1's was full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. It was full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. It contained in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love, and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the highsec experience.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Erotica 1. As imperfect as she may be, she has been like family to me. She gave me isk, helped increase the numbers of CODEdot, and made people read the Code aloud in funny accents. Not once in my conversations with her have I heard her talk about any group of EVE players in derogatory terms, or treat carebears with whom she interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. She contains within her the contradictions--the good and the bad--of the community that she has served diligently for so long.
I can no more disown Erotica 1 than I can disown the scammer community. I can no more disown her than I can my carebear grandmother--a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world--but a woman who once confessed that she purchased a Michi's Excavation Augmentor, and who on more than one occasion uttered Miner Bingo quotes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of highsec, this place that I love.
We have a choice in this community. We can accept a politics that breeds divison, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle the issue of Bonus Rounds and Erotica 1's ban as a spectacle. We can call each other torturers, or accuse each other of war-crimes, and we can hope some news agency picks up the story and talks about cyber-bullying.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next news cycle, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change. Or, at this moment, we can come together and say, "Not this time. This is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger." And as so many generations of new players have come to realize over the course of the year and a half since the Code was written in Halaima, that is where the perfection begins.