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Eve Online bans real-world lobbyist over alleged in-game corruption

Today, cutthroat sandbox MMO Eve Online further blurs the line between reality and game. Developers CCP have brought down the ban-hammer on Brian Schoeneman, US maritime law lobbyist outside of the game, and elected official “Brisc Rubal” within. The reason: Corruption, announcing that Schoeneman abused his position as a Council Of Stelllar Management member to share “confidential information” that allowed another player to “conduct illicit in-game transactions”. His accounts have been permanently banned from the game, and his co-conspirators hit with a one year ban.

For those not up to speed with Eve Online, the Council Of Stellar Management (CSM) is a small group of democratically elected players that interact directly with the developers, which you can read about on its official page here. They get greater insight into the inner workings of the MMO, and give CCP condensed, more coherent feedback from the players. Being a member of the CSM includes following a strict code of conduct and adhering to non-disclosure agreements. According to CCP, Schoeneman failed to follow the rules, and abused the system for his alliance’s gain.

Skulduggery, backstabbery and thievery are commonplace in Eve Online, but usually within the confines of the game’s rules. See the story of this space-station theft, or a group of big-money gamblers that ended up bankrolling a galaxy-shattering conflict. Still, those instances didn’t involve CSM members that got to meet the man behind the curtain, so to speak. Below, as video example of this blurring of roles, a video Schoeneman used in his campaign to get himself elected to the CSM. It regrettably and predictably contains the slogan “Make Eve Great Again”:

Schoeneman has claimed on Twitter that he’s innocent, and that CCP have not given him a clear reason for his ban and removal from his council seat. Just a few minutes ago, he also announced via Reddit that he would “fight these false allegations, restore my reputation and seek all avenues for recourse available to me for these reckless actions.”. CCP remain silent, although have intriguingly mentioned that they would “impose a rule that prohibits electronics during CSM sessions “, suggesting  (at least to me) that something was caught on mic that wasn’t meant to be.

Claiming that the ban and charges by CCP have had an “immediate and negative impact” on both his in-game and offline reputation, which while potentially true also would be a repercussion of him campaigning for in-game roles on the back of his political career. He seems to have forgotten that Eve Online a privately owned game, run by CCP, an Icelandic studio who reserve the right (per their EULA) to nuke players from orbit for whatever reason they feel like. There’s little legal recourse here, making his Reddit grandstanding all the more pointless. Still, an impish part of me hopes that this escalates into a legal battle, somehow.

Eve Online is free to play, and you can find its official page here.

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Dominic Tarason

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