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 Post subject: The Bonus Room
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:31 am 
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This is a story from EVE for your consumption and discussion.

Before I get into the events, let me put a little basic information out there. EVE allows players to scam, backstab, nonconsensually pvp, and otherwise harm each other - in game - in ways most MMOs will warn, suspend, or ban a player for. They do have rules, though, for exploiting bugs and other problems of the game client, and more rules about dragging gameplay out into the real world. The game is a sandBOX. I capitalize the last part because that's what this story is about - where the box is.
EVE has 5 major trade hubs - Jita, Amarr, Dodixie, Rens, and Hek. there are numerous smaller hubs, but those are the biggest, and Jita is easily the king of trade hubs. It is so busy that people often have to wait at stargates to enter, and the system is on its own node, pretty much all the time.

If you go into these trade hubs you will find that local chat (the chat channel for your star system) has quite a few people offering all manner of goods and services for sale, not unlike the Commonlands tunnel used to be in EQ. In Rens or Hek its not that much, in Dodixie its prevalent, in Amarr it's overwhelming and in Jita it's a wonder any of them ever get a response because they spam each other off the screen so fast.

Now, EVE has automated markets by region (large cluster of around a hundred star systems apiece) where you can purchase or sell your wares to other players, just like the auction house in WoW. The big difference is that you have to then move your own merchandise from there, or hire someone to do it via contract.. it doesn't just appear in a mailbox like WoW. You can also buy individual items or packages of items off of public contracts from other players. For example, someone might put up contracts of fully-fit ships.

This makes one wonder - why all the chat spam in local then, if you can list your wares for sale and be done with it? Well, they are almost all scams.

There are all kinds of scams, some involving manipulation of the automated market, some involving contracts, and others than don't involve selling or buying anything at all. They are varied, and it's the last one I'm going to talk about - the ISK-doubling scam, and The Bonus Room (or Bonus Round)

ISK is the currency of EVE. In these trade hubs, you will find a fair number of "ISK doublers" who promise to send back double an amount you send them (or more; triple, quadruple, etc.) if you "follow the rules" in sending it. They put the rules for their personal scam in their character bio, and you have to read it carefully. It might demand putting certain characters in the subject line of the donation. It might require ISK sent be of specific amounts. If you have already played with a particular doubler once, they might require that a new play have double or triple the amount you sentthe first time, or the amount you received back. There's all kinds of variations.

Some ISK doublers just blatantly keep your money. Some will send it back if you "followed the rules". Others are inconsistent, perhaps sending back smaller amounts, but keeping large ones. In all cases, they specify that this game is funded by "donations that don't follow the rules". If this sounds like a bad idea it is - once you send them ISK, it's pretty much gone if they don't double it for you.

Until a few months ago, the most prominent ISK doubler was known as Erotica 1. Erotica 1 offered up to 3 rounds of play, with the requirement that ISK sent for doubling tripling, or whatever must be within specified ranges AND if it were the 2nd or 3rd round, that it must be at least double what was just received back.

This meant that 2rd round players were often sending very large sums; several billion ISK at a minimum. This is where The Bonus Room comes in.

Players (ostensibly only “lucky” players who were the every 100th or something, but in all probability actually just any player Erotica thought was susceptible) selected for the bonus room were, of course told participation was “mandatory” or they would not receive back the amount they sent for their play.

In order to participate in the bonus room, the player had to send a full-access API key, allowing Erotica 1 and his cronies to view pretty much all information about the character, including ISK balance, assets, and so forth, for that account. If the player had more than one account, they were required to do so for EVERY account. (Obviously hiding other accounts is easier since they are not linked to each other by API).

Once Erotica had this, they would then demand that the player show “complete faith” or “complete trust.” In other words, the player had to transfer ALL assets and ISK on that account to Erotica 1 (or some “escrow agent” that was either an alt or in cahoots with Erotica), with the promise that if they completed the bonus room, they would receive back something like quintuple the value.

Now, understand that once the player has done this, they have nothing left of value for Erotica 1 to scam out of them. The scam is essentially already completed – they have turned over everything they own and there is nothing further in-game Erotica can gain from them. Not only does this mean Erotica 1 has absolutely no incentive to give their stuff back (other than possibly to lure future players into the bonus room, but getting alts or cronies to attest to “successful” bonus rooms suffices for that) but at this point they are already against the edge of the sandbox.

One aspect of EVE’s rules is that you can’t just antagonize people to antagonize them. For example, you can bump a mining ship away from its asteroid repeatedly and demand a ransom to stop, but you can’t follow him around doing it just to troll him.

That’s the first problematic aspect of The Bonus Room. The second should become clear below.

The victim is invited into a private mumble or teamspeak or whatever and told they have to complete every action asked of them without question in order to win The Bonus Room. The victim is NOT told when it will be over, or what all the actions will be in advance; they are not aware of the win condition.

This is because there isn’t one. What happens in The Bonus Room is that the player is simply kept online indefinitely until they get too tired, too frustrated, or are late for work, or their spouse gets mad at them, or whatever, and they snap, quit, or whatever and “fail”.

They are kept on completing various tasks such as singing songs, reciting from Wikipedia or the dictionary, or more questionable activities. At one point, Erotica would demand they undock in their pod repeatedly and get in blown up. Since they had no money to upgrade their clone, this meant repeatedly losing skill points, which are trained in real time. CCP put the kibosh on that a while back, so other things appeard.. such as demanding the victim get on skype and pour mayonnaise all over themselves. In the last bonus room done by Erotica, a player with a speech impediment was asked to recite and sing. He eventually got frusterated, his wife intervened, and the miscreants running the bonus room started making fun of her as well. This ended in a profanity-laden rant by Sokar (the victim) and the inevitable “failure”.
The final aspect of this is that Erotica was recording these bonus rooms and uploading them to SoundCloud., exposing the victim to general internet consumption. You can, if you really want to, google EVE sokar bonus room and the SoundCloud should be the first search result… it’s lengthy though.

Now, there had been rumblings about this before; the podding thing, and Erotica had been kicked from Goonswarm (or at least an affiliate corp) after the Goons, despite their unsavory reputation, decided that this sort of thing really was not funny.

However, things came to a head on the last one because a CSM member (the elected player representatives to CCP) got wind of this. Ripard Teg, also called Jester, blogged about it, as he happened to be in the middle of a blog series about EVE players behaving badly, and apparently he had made his dislike of Erotica 1 clear to CCP before that. The blog post can be read at Jester’s Trek under a post called The Bonus Round. I feel that he’s fundamentally correct in that post, but overstates it a little bit with excessive language, like calling it “torture”.

There was an ensuing uproar on the forums between the community that felt this sort of thing was hilarious, and vital sandbox game play, and those that agreed with Ripard Teg that this was harassment, and unacceptable, and brings EVE into disrepute.

CCP, after this went on for several days, apparently banned Erotica 1. CCP does not talk about disciplinary action publicly, but Erotica claims to have been banned and has not been seen in-game since.

Personally, I agree with the ban. I don’t see that an internet spaceship sandbox needs people luring others into real-life humiliations, posting soundclouds of it, or getting people to cover themselves in mayo (what the ****?!?) I think it’s a wise decision by CCP to not associate their business with this sort of thing.

As non-EVE playing people, what do you all think about this story?

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 Post subject: Re: The Bonus Room
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:09 am 
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Why would anyone be dumb enough to fall for that. Sounds like the eq casinos back in the day only far worse.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bonus Room
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:19 am 
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I think proponents of the ban are correct that this behavior brings EVE into disrepute. I think they're incorrect if they feel the ban will achieve any real effect. A game where running scam jobs is acceptable is a breeding ground for trolls. That it had to progress to fraternity hazing rituals being recorded and posted on the internet before action was taken is extraordinarily telling of EVE. I mean, scams which would be illegal anywhere in the civilized world, and for good reason, still receive the tacit approval of the developer. EVE should not be played by anyone.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:26 pm 
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It sure doesn't sound like much fun. I certainly wouldn't want a child playing this.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 4:50 pm 
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Arathain Kelvar wrote:
It sure doesn't sound like much fun. I certainly wouldn't want a child playing this.


Children for the most part don't play EVE. The average player is in their 30s, and come to think of it, I can't recall encountering any players younger than 16 or 17, and those very rarely. I agree though, I wouldn't want children playing it.

Out where I live, in null security space, though, you don't see it. We have enemy fleets showing up to farm kills off our newbies, but we eventually form a fleet and drive them away.

Corolinth wrote:
I think proponents of the ban are correct that this behavior brings EVE into disrepute. I think they're incorrect if they feel the ban will achieve any real effect. A game where running scam jobs is acceptable is a breeding ground for trolls. That it had to progress to fraternity hazing rituals being recorded and posted on the internet before action was taken is extraordinarily telling of EVE. I mean, scams which would be illegal anywhere in the civilized world, and for good reason, still receive the tacit approval of the developer. EVE should not be played by anyone.


I agree with this to a point, except that Iceland is in the civilized world, and I don't think any country regulates scamming people out of assets inside a video game. It HAS had a real effect - probably not the one they want; people simply stopped SoundClouding bonus rooms, or if they do, they record disclaimers at the beginning where the victim announces that that don't feel harassed or victimized or whatever.. and if they say they do, then they fail the bonus room!

It's important to note that if he hadn't been publishing recordings of these things, he probably never would have been banned, as it would have been a lot more plausibly deniable. It strikes me that this could really happen in ANY game; once you lure the player out of the game client and into a private voice program, if you don't record any evidence the game company will have a hard time verifying what happened. EVE just lends itself to this by collecting a large amount of these sorts of people.

I also find it interesting to note that these sorts congregate in high security space and rarely undock. They tend not to be good at the actual "internet spaceships" part of the game, although they often also have friends who are skilled pilots.

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Why would anyone be dumb enough to fall for that. Sounds like the eq casinos back in the day only far worse.


Well, my theory is that it exploits a combination of greed, sunk costs, and escalating investment. If you play the first round where you risk 50 million ISK, that's pocket change to most players. You might risk it just out of curiosity, maybe fully expecting to get scammed, but just wanting to see for yourself. Then holy crap! You got back 100 million! What do you know, maybe there is something to this? Let me read the rules carefully.. ok, I'll risk 300 million. Wow! Now I got back 900 million! Ok rules again.. I can play 3 times.. has to be twice what I received back and within certain values... dang, I need to risk 3 billion, but at that level it pays 5x! I'm going for it...

3 billion is probably not pocket change to very many players, and 15 billion to almost none. I imagine that's basically how it works; small amounts are used to convince skeptics its legit.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 5:57 pm 
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You misunderstand my remark about illegality. Certainly, the developed world does not regard the loss of fake internet game currency as being worthy of court hearings.

If these scams (minus the bonus room) were carried out in meatspace, with legal trade currency, in any country in the civilized world, the perpetrators of the scam would be drowning in lawyers' fees in a desperate attempt not to find themselves in prison. The bonus room content escalates things to, "There is no lawyer who can get you off for this." This is basically a Nigerian email scam. There's a reason those come from third world countries. People in first world countries aren't keen on having that sort of conversation with federal law enforcement.

In cyberspace, with fake money, across national boundaries, the expectation is the game developer will handle matters. The fact that they did not is why most people look at EVE and decide not to play it.

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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:14 pm 
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Corolinth wrote:
You misunderstand my remark about illegality. Certainly, the developed world does not regard the loss of fake internet game currency as being worthy of court hearings.

If these scams (minus the bonus room) were carried out in meatspace, with legal trade currency, in any country in the civilized world, the perpetrators of the scam would be drowning in lawyers' fees in a desperate attempt not to find themselves in prison. The bonus room content escalates things to, "There is no lawyer who can get you off for this." This is basically a Nigerian email scam. There's a reason those come from third world countries. People in first world countries aren't keen on having that sort of conversation with federal law enforcement.

In cyberspace, with fake money, across national boundaries, the expectation is the game developer will handle matters. The fact that they did not is why most people look at EVE and decide not to play it.


Well.. no, they did not handle it, mainly because they allow it as part of allowing the player to play as a "criminal element" in the game world. They don't want people dragging it into the realm that the Bonus Room explored for obvious reasons, but they view it as legitimate gameplay, much like attacking someone else's ship is legitimate gameplay.

EVE is simulating a sort of "space third world country" in many ways. I certainly understand people simply not wanting to play in that environment, but if they expect the developer to handle it in a game where the developer explicitly makes it clear that it's part of the game, that seems rather unrealistic.

What I'm more interested in is, what do people think about the actions of CCP when the Bonus Room did drag things into real-world events rather than just space currency?

Maybe I should expound a bit more. There was a lot of clamoring afterwards that CCP would now ban anyone just because a CSM member wanted them to. Bear in mind that the CSM is advisory; they have no power at all and Ripard Teg was near the end of his term and not running for re-election. There was also a claim that this occurred in a private voice chat; in my opinion the use of the EVE client to lure the victim into the channel eliminated any argument that it was outside CCPs purview.

Another argument (rather silly IMO) was that CCP might suddenly ban gay players if Russian players (Russians are prevalent in EVE) demanded it. I wondered how CCP would determine if anyone was gay, or how banning people for actions that involved using the game client to lure someone into an abusive chat room meant they would ban people for sexuality, utterly unrelated to game play, and risk angering large portions of their playerbase.

What do you think of these issues? I get that people might not want to play in what amounts to a space third world sandbox, but that's how the game is marketed.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:20 pm 
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I played Three Card Monte once on a streetcorner in Philly twenty-some years ago. I knew I would lose (because nobody beats the Monte...at least before youtube), but I was willing to pay for the experience. I won a few bucks and then lost forty. But whatever. This thread reminded me of that. My memory wouldn't be as fond, if the Monte had demanded mayo.


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 Post subject: Re: The Bonus Room
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 1:58 pm 
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Corolinth wrote:
I think proponents of the ban are correct that this behavior brings EVE into disrepute. I think they're incorrect if they feel the ban will achieve any real effect. A game where running scam jobs is acceptable is a breeding ground for trolls. That it had to progress to fraternity hazing rituals being recorded and posted on the internet before action was taken is extraordinarily telling of EVE. I mean, scams which would be illegal anywhere in the civilized world, and for good reason, still receive the tacit approval of the developer. EVE should not be played by anyone.

That's dumb enough to give out their API. Everything in EVE is PVP in one way or another. If you're not fighting for space, you're competing via the market. EVE is famous for it the complex scams that have been run on one Corp or another. It's a known thing. It's also part of the excitement. The drama is really the best part of EVE. And delicious pubbie tears.

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 Post subject: Re: The Bonus Room
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:48 pm 
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Wwen wrote:
Corolinth wrote:
I think proponents of the ban are correct that this behavior brings EVE into disrepute. I think they're incorrect if they feel the ban will achieve any real effect. A game where running scam jobs is acceptable is a breeding ground for trolls. That it had to progress to fraternity hazing rituals being recorded and posted on the internet before action was taken is extraordinarily telling of EVE. I mean, scams which would be illegal anywhere in the civilized world, and for good reason, still receive the tacit approval of the developer. EVE should not be played by anyone.


That's dumb enough to give out their API. Everything in EVE is PVP in one way or another. If you're not fighting for space, you're competing via the market. EVE is famous for it the complex scams that have been run on one Corp or another. It's a known thing. It's also part of the excitement. The drama is really the best part of EVE. And delicious pubbie tears.


I just noticed what you put down for your location.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:25 pm 
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It's been like that forever and considering where I live now, it's actually kind of true to the movie...

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:36 pm 
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Wwen wrote:
It's been like that forever and considering where I live now, it's actually kind of true to the movie...


I haven't seen the movie, but I am familiar with Bat Country. I mourn the retirement of the Baltec Megathron.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:53 pm 
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Lol, old conversation. But my Bat Country is a reference to "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." I was living in Barstow a couple years ago as well, which is about where Depp is in the movie where he's ranting about bat country.

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