EVE Online Players to Elect Anti-Corruption Inspectors

Following widespread allegations of corrupted employees abusing in-game powers, EVE Online manager CCP has a new response: Democracy.

Following widespread allegations of corrupted employees abusing in-game powers, EVE Online manager CCP has a new response: Democracy.

Players of the space-based MMO will soon be given the chance to vote on nine members who they feel would make up a fair team of independent inspectors. The established oversight committee will then be flown to CCP's Iceland headquarters for their own appraisal of the EVE team's innocence.

"Perception is reality, and if a substantial part of our community feels like we are biased, whether it is true or not, it is true to them," EVE corporate chief Hilmar Petursson told the New York Times. "EVE Online is not a computer game. It is an emerging nation, and we have to address it like a nation being accused of corruption."

Two weeks ago the in-game corporation Goonswarm accused CCP employees of deliberately and unfairly aiding the largest alliance in the game, Band of Brothers. "This is a serious situation and it warrants the highest levels of attention on your part," read an open letter to CCP from Goonswarm. The letter was accompanied by various evidence Goonswarm had collected against the developer, which appeared to show a Band of Brothers member summoning a CCP employee at whim, as well as a CCP official joining a corporation to briefly appoint himself director. CCP roundly denied the charges, claiming that the employee was merely repairing a bug in the game code.

The new accusations came on the heels of an earlier corruption scandal involving Band of Brothers and CCP. After several lengthy forum discussions fraught with wild speculation, one CCP employee came forward, admitting that he had illegally handed out valuable spaceship blueprints to Band of Brothers.

While CCP denied the majority of the claims, the developer undoubtedly lost credibility in the eyes of its user base. And in an online world where fairness is of the utmost importance, the company can't afford to ignore the seeds of distrust. "A government can't just keep saying, 'We are not corrupt.' No one will believe them," said CCP's Petursson. "Instead you have to create transparency and robust institutions and oversight in order to maintain the confidence of the population."

The move to create the committee has already been met with considerable optimism by fans, many praising CCP for attempting to resolve the situation in good faith. "Although I do not trust CCP anymore, I believe that this is most definitely a step in the right direction," said forum poster Badlands.

Some remain skeptical that the unusual process will accomplish anything, expressing concern that players won't have the know-how to properly investigate the massive game. "There's no point in these ombudsmen if they can't take deep looks into the log files and live databases, and actually understand them," remarked a user on Goonswarm's website.

Questions have also arisen regarding the potential for corruption among the committee members themselves. CCP says that election monitors will be culled from universities in the United States and Europe, but that does little to ensure the goodwill of the actual candidates. A forum poster named Babbette summed up the problem: "EVE prides itself on having the most cutthroat and back-stabbing players in any MMO. Is anyone really gonna trust 8-9 people you don't personally know to do anything [about] EVE?"

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 8, 2007 10:54 AM

    I would never have seen this coming. Fascinating stuff.

    • reply
      June 8, 2007 11:54 AM

      Agreed. I recently started playing AFK3000 to experience all these goings-ons.

    • reply
      June 8, 2007 11:58 AM

      This alone could probably fuel a dozen graduate theses. How do you engender trust in an institution when it's surrounded by anarcho-capitalism, especially when that institution is responsible for even more basic decisions then they would ever be tasked with in the real world?

      The US Congress has never legislated gravity, but I imagine that the democratic involvement here will gradually escalate until they start giving input on balance-changes in the basic code. Different corporations favor different character builds, and optimizing your character for a different strategy is thoroughly non-trivial. How can a third-party monitor recognize and police bias in the fundamental fabric of the game?

      We need a techno-literate version of Robert A. Caro to tease all this out. :(

    • reply
      June 8, 2007 12:09 PM


    • reply
      June 8, 2007 12:20 PM

      Any chance you could inquire about the nomination and election process for us Remo?

      • reply
        June 8, 2007 12:39 PM

        What you're saying is that you'd like me to go, right?

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          June 8, 2007 12:47 PM

          I doubt either of us could get in without getting a good chunk of the shack to sign up for the game. Even then I wouldn't be suprised if theres an account activity/creation cut off to prevent vote maniupulation.

          I am more curious to see if there will be a nomination phase, then a primary of some sort, then a final election. If its straight to election, can you imagine how many people will sign up.

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      June 8, 2007 3:57 PM

      hah. At first I thought you just praised your own article but now I see Nick covered this... ;)

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      June 8, 2007 4:16 PM

      Very bold and innovative move from CCP - yet a very interesting approach to getting back credibility with customers of an MMO. Just imagine Blizzard doing that *chuckles*

      • reply
        June 8, 2007 5:17 PM

        I don't think Blizzard allows its entire customer base to play on the same server :P

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