Griefer Nation

Griefer Nation
A Deadly Dollar

Jim Rossignol | 15 Nov 2005 07:03
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The scammer revealed that he and a friend had proposed an open business venture to purchase blueprints from which one of [I]EVE[/i]'s most expensive and coveted battleships could be built. They played on the innocence of gamers, acting as if this kind of venture was a matter that was regularly enjoyed by EVE's savvy players. Their investment was supposed to give rise to an in-game manufacturing venture which would make everyone involved rather wealthy; paying back loans and generating profits for those who gave up their money, according to the amount invested.

This all sounds familiar, rather straightforward, just as all business scams should. But actually producing ships in EVE takes some work, and instead of going into business the two scammers simply shut up shop and made off with the cash.

Having transferred the money and placed their trust in these virtual business proposals, the investors realized that they had been duped, but could do nothing to rescue their lost capital. The scam tolled 480 million ISK (EVE's currency), which is almost $1,000 in meatspace money.

Their investors were left with nothing and, because they'd willingly parted with the money through no fault of the game itself, they had no recourse but to make impotent threats of revenge. Grief indeed.

Of course there are other, lesser tricks that EVE players can perform to dupe the unwary, like pricing scams. It's harder to fall for now, with recently-installed big red numbers telling you when a purchase isn't a good deal, but yes, I've accidentally bought a shuttle for seven million instead of seven thousand credits. When you're in a rush, do you always count the zeroes? It was a hell of a blow to my skinny wallet, and that simpler scammer must have been laughing.

Just as with "The Great Scam," there was no way to take it back. EVE provides no safety net for your mistakes. The same is true of the actions of corporation thieves, those sly folk who join corporations (the EVE equivalent of guilds) and then steal from communal resources, potentially looting items that have taken months to accrue. Their actions are entirely within the mechanics of the game, and will always be so. The lesson seems to be: This is a game in which there are other people, and you never know how far you can trust them...

As such, there's been another even more profound example of the potential of EVE's game mechanics leading directly to player grief, one that has inspired awe wherever the story has been told. Compared to this awesome venture "The Great Scam" is positively miniscule, a mere trifle amid the majesty of EVE's greatest takedown. This is more than a scam, and to refer to it as such only diminishes the scale of its achievement.

Revealed with a flourish on the Eve Online forums, the attack by the Guiding Hand Social Club on one of Eve's wealthier corporations, Ubiqua Seraph, was a masterstroke of patience and cunning. Initially, the Guiding Hand, who had previously set themselves up as committed assassins, had been hired to assassinate the CEO of Ubiqua Seraph, and were to be paid handsomely for the task. Their method, though, was not the crude and difficult matter of waging war and killing the mark by martial means alone. Instead, the Guiding Hand infiltrated the Ubiqua Seraph to the highest level, taking 12 months to ingratiate themselves with the corporation and gain access to its extensive resources.

Like the 1930s FBI infiltrators who organized the Communist party meetings in which suspected conspirators were to be arrested, the Guiding Hand's own influence on the CEO of Ubiqua Seraph arranged the time and place of her doom. Not only did they schedule the trap, but the executioner was to be a fellow colleague, a director of her own corporation, and just another member of The Guiding Hand. When the time was right, The Guiding Hand ambushed their quarry in space, claimed the bounty, and pillaged the corporate coffers. What had originally seemed like a large sum was but a fraction of what The Guiding Hand plot would actually claim.

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