Art by Major Sniper
At 12:15 ET on March 23, Fraternity undocked over 30 Titans and a number of smaller ships. They then locked on to two of those Titans, Fraternity’s own, and blasted them into space dust. That’s right: Fraternity pointed the gun at their own Avatar and Ragnarok, and pulled the trigger. EVE has showcased a great deal of odd behavior over the years. Still, AWOXing one’s own Titans has to be some of the strangest. And it’s something that I don’t think got enough attention, likely because its significance wasn’t recognized.
“Why?” I thought. This Titan AWOXing comes only eight months after WWBII, and fifteen after the dreadful (or glorious depending on which side you were on) massacre that happened at M-2, in which so many PAPI Titans bit the dust. After such a loss, Titans became that much more important as nullsec military resources. That which is already rare got even rarer. Common sense says if you lost Titans on that day, get moving on replacing them. If you didn’t lose many or any, get moving on building more and pressing your arms race advantage. In this context Fraternity decommission two of their own. So again, why?
Sending a Message
Frost Ees OP’ YouTube channel recounted the event. She reported that the reason for the AWOXing was that Fraternity had identified the Titan pilots as RMTers. This instigated a blunt instance of self policing: “We caught you RMTing, and so we’re blowing you up; we’re blowing up that which you value most. We don’t care that it is ‘one of ours.’” The two pilots were unaware of the rough justice that awaited them; they were baited out of their hangers with the rest of their fellow’s Titans, saw their standings dropped, and watched their bars turn red at their fellows’ hands.
I wonder how long it took for those two pilots to realize what was happening. I wonder how they felt as they watched the explosions on their monitors. And I wonder if they saw it in high definition. Maybe whatever they were told to get them to undock prompted them to turn on potato mode. Maybe they watched their Titans explode in the lowest quality possible.
Fraternity was sending a message, but the crux of this piece is to ask the question: “who was the message for?” It certainly was partially for other Fraternity members. Fraternity members at large were told: “we don’t support RMTing. If you are caught, we will blow up your Titan for the offense. Hell, we’ll even blow up two.”
This isn’t the first instance of self-policing in EVE Online. Goonswarm famously conducted “cultural revolutions”. These punished offensive behavior and language among the group. Leadership also culled members who would not comply with the new standards of behavior.
Self-policing is an important aspect of the game. It keeps individuals accountable to the group, and to the playerbase at large. And it demonstrates leadership’s adherence to principles. It is a way of cultivating better communities, and reducing the worst elements of the internet among your ranks. It ultimately strengthens one’s community by making people safer; they worry a little less that they are going to be called that word, or that term. Finally, it also makes members of a self-policed community worry less that they are going to be embarrassed by someone.
The Cultural Revolutions
Goonswarm caught a lot of flak for some past behaviors. The cultural revolutions weren’t merely a message sent internally, as a warning to any Goon. They were also a message to outsiders: “We have heard your criticism of our behavior and our culture; you can no longer claim we sanction our worst elements. We are dealing with it.”
Self-policing is also a strong public relations message to outsiders who criticism groups for behavior that gets policed. Since the cultural revolutions, when people talked about memories of poor Goon behavior, other Goons would point to those cultural revolutions as marks of change. Before them, if you were a Goon who was embarrassed by some of your teammates’ behavior, that was that. But after the revolutions, you could feel proud that your group and leadership took self-policing steps. Bottom line: it not only made Goons a better organization, it released a great deal of public relations pressure Goons were under by outside criticism.
Parallels in FRT
Fraternity’s self-policing of RMT should be viewed similarly. It was a message to fellow Fraternity members that certain behavior isn’t going to be tolerated anymore. But it is also a message to outsiders.
Fraternity has been criticized for a while now for having an RMT problem. How much this criticism was an exaggeration or accurate doesn’t matter: FRT was becoming associated with RMT regardless. Fraternity’s AWOXing two Titans accomplishes more than just making other FRT members think twice before engaging in RMT. It also sends a message to outsiders about FRT and RMT: “We will blow up our own Titans if we catch our members doing that. We are handling it.”
Lessons to Learn
In conclusion, there are a few lessons to take away from this story.
First, people who would talk about Fraternity in relation to RMT from now on have to keep in mind how they blew up two of their own Titans when two members were caught. Not everyone who plays this game would be willing to do this. It demonstrates someone was willing to “pay the butcher’s bill” to lessen RMT. This may make people more hesitant to criticize FRT in the future on the basis of RMT, and I suggest this was one of the reasons for Fraternity’s actions.
Which brings me to my second point: internal policing is a great way to protect yourself from external flak. It allows your members and those considering joining your group some verbal ammunition when someone shouts: “Your group does RMT.” It allows those members to reply: “We are handling it. And here’s the battle report to prove it.”
Finally, self-policing also makes the game better. It makes everyone have a better experience. And it tilts the larger culture of the game away from elements that would drag player experiences down. In the end, this is more important than the first two takeaways.
If you want to see the game improve culturally, but also to see less cheating, doing some self-policing isn’t a bad place to start. It doesn’t only benefit those in your own alliance, but everyone involved. There is also a history of it in the game for you to peruse, and take inspiration from.