When Eve Online banned a real-world political lobbyist over alleged in-game corruption earlier this month, wags like yours truly fell over ourselves all "haha yeah a corrupt lobbyist big surprise lol roflmao." Laugh those arses back on, friends. CCP Games now say they were wrong, that Brian Schoeneman (known by the spacename "Brisc Rubal") did not abuse his position on the spaceship MMO's official player council to share confidential company information with pals who profited off it in-game. CCP are unbanning Brisc Rubal, as well as the two other players they took down with him, and say they are so very sorry.
Brisc Rubal was a member of EVE's Council of Stellar Management (CSM), a group of players chosen through in-game elections to liaise with CCP. They present player concerns to the makers, and CCP often bounce ideas off the CSM to see how players might respond. Critical CSM business is confidential, obvs, covered by a non-disclosure agreement.
On April 8th, CCP said Rubal had breached that confidentiality, sharing information with a member of his alliance, who then shared it with another player who used the insider knowledge to "conduct illicit in-game transactions." While EVE encourages in-game skulduggery, using real-world insider information is a no-no. CCP booted and barred Rubal from the CSM, permabanned all his accounts, banned the other two players for one year, and confiscated all the "illicit assets" and virtuaprofits supposedly gained as a result of this.
"Ha ha corrupt lobbyists can you believe it ha ha," I roared while rolling on the floor. When I finally stood back up, my arse did not follow. It rocked gently in the breeze like a seesaw in a fleshy playground.
Then CCP started to sound less certain. On April 17th, the developers issued a follow-up statement saying they talked with everyone involved as well as "conducting an internal review to substantiate the evidence available to us and evaluate our handling of the situation." Hmm!
Yesterday, April 25th, CCP announced they'd muffed it. Rubal and chums neither gained an illicit advantage nor breached their confidentiality, CCP now say.
"After reviewing our assessment of the information on which these allegations were based and having spoken repeatedly with everyone involved, it's now clear that our initial actions were based on unsubstantiated assumptions. While we were motivated by a desire to protect the working relationship between the CSM and the EVE Development Team with all due speed, had we taken the time to review the information with greater scrutiny, this incident could have been resolved without the disruption that has since occurred."
They've apologised, they're unbanning the accounts, they're restoring confiscated assets, they're... really sorry, sorry for the accused, for EVE players, for everyone.
As for the human Brian Schoeneman, who's political and legislative director for the Seafarers International Union of North America, he says he's chosen to resign from the CSM.
"There's not much time left in the term, and I need a break after all of this," Schoeneman said on Twitter yesterday. "Maybe in the future I'll consider running again, but this has been tough for me and the fam and I could use the time off."
I'm trying a deep tummy chuckle to laugh my arse on but no, it's not sticking. Perhaps a high-in-the-throat giggle has more suction? Or rolling back and forth rather than over and over in one direction? This is embarrassing. I can't tell people I lost my arse over something that wasn't true.