When playing conventional RPG´s, players are usually pretty confident about their place in the respective virtual environment. Although there are certain exceptions, most (video)game narratives follow a pretty traditional pattern of differing between “heroes” or “villains”. These are based on social and moral standards and practices in the “real world”. Therefore, attributes such as the valuation of human intelligent life, faithfulness and compassion are considered to be “good”, while egocentric, manipulative or cruel attitudes are considered “evil”. Within the freedoms that the game offer him, the player has all the tools to discern the “alignment” of his character, as the “virtual” world around him serves as his moral compass. One of, if not the most popular moral and ethical categorization systems is probably the “Alignment Grid” from Dungeons & Dragons.
This means, of course, that the more freedom the player has, and the less he´s hindered in his actions by the environment, the more he loses touch with his moral and ethical orientation. In a game like EVE you can literally play forever without having to interact with a single NPC. In and environment like this, the system of self-evaluation simply falls short. Pilots around New Eden, whose shiny ships got blapped by Concord because of their security status, lay truth to this claim.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that EVE players are not interested in or do not care about their respective alignment. I have yet to meet a pilot who would be able to extract himself from the need to explain, to justify his existence and purpose in this game. However, EVE is a game where the major narrative is neither pre-laid in the game´s code nor to be determined by a bunch of D20s behind the Gamemaster´s screen. “The Fate of New Eden is carved out by the political struggle between real players each and everyday.” That’s true, even if that struggle is sometimes less exciting than one would imagine.
This way, freedom of choice is in fact part of the solution. By allowing players to form and participate in entities (Corporations, Alliances or Coalitions), CCP empowers them to substitute the lack of pre-determined orientation. So a huge amount of self-identification is tightly connected with the individuals’ favoured entity, along with a variety of respective rules and narratives.
One could argue this means that identification and moral evaluation only happen within an entity. Therefore, in the greater context of the game, you can’t make comparisons between them. Luckily, entities aren’t vacuum-packed bubbles. They’re social spheres that often overlap or spill into other social areas or platforms. This enables the creation of a “common narrative” that allows placement of different entities on a comparative alignment grid. One example would be this attempt from 2012 that one of our writers dug out;
Alignment of Eve Entities, 2012
What we can take from the graph is that, like mentioned earlier, most of the definitions of what is good/evil or lawful/chaotic can be directly be translated into how the actions of identity is evaluated by a broader environment; An entity becomes good / evil by undertaking actions, that a majority of the player base – or at least a majority of the players voicing their opinion – deems good / evil.
Unfortunately. There is not the time to go into detail on all the historic references and backgrounds that can be found in the chart, nor is an article the correct medium to discuss questions regarding its legitimacy or authenticity. The place for the inevitable arguments that would bring is the comments section! What I think we can agree on though is, that it is vaguely outdated, as some of the entities pictured are not even existing any more.
Additionally, some of the displayed Entities were in dire need of being updated. Some mindful listeners of recent Fireside chats might have heard about The Mittani himself being asked about his view on the both his alignment and that of the Imperium as a whole.
“On a standard D&D alignment grid, I´d say from an inward perspective we are Chaotic Good, while the rest of the galaxy probably sees me – and the Imperium – as Lawful Evil.”
-The Mittani, Fireside 13/1/2018
As a result of this considerations, I am glad to provide you with a newer version that we at INN put together for you to discuss, along with some notes for each of the entities displayed.
Alignment of Eve Entities, 2018
Good-aligned entities try to adhere to moral principles. They place the interests of others ahead of their own. Needless to say, this isn’t an easy category to populate in EVE, especially when you want groups people will recognize.
Eve University- Lawful Good
Key Concepts: Compassion, Duty, Honor. Playing by the rules. Doing the right thing because they are awesome.
For years, Eve University has been a place to help new players find their way into the game. In a game that combines unforgiving mechanics with a steep learning curve, they are the knights in shining armor every Newbro can hope for.
The Sixth Empire – Neutral Good
Key Concepts: Altruistic; No emphasis on the group or individual.
Under to wise guidance of the Space Pope, the Sixth Empire functions as a safe haven for both old and new players and is strongly supporting the Broadcast for Reps (B4R) movement, a player-led initiative for suicide prevention. As a result, they have excellent diplomatic standings with a lot of major entities, even those in open conflict with each other.
Chaotic Good – Guardians of the Galaxy
Key Concepts : Altruistic but unorganized; Value on personal freedom; Doing the right thing, even if everyone hates them for it.
Did you see that Marvel Movie? Well, they´re pretty much that. Hell, they even made it their main PR concept.
For additional information, feel free to read up this article by Johnny Crowe.
Neutral entities are concerned with neither good nor evil, neither selflessness, nor selfishness. This one’s also a little difficult to pin down, but not because of player actions. It’s more the issue of ‘where’s the line where not being concerned with selflessness is selfishness?’ Is there really a point where ‘not good’ is still ‘not evil’? Or is, as Edmund Burke said, all that is required for evil to flourish is that good men do nothing? Happily, philosophical exploration of that nature is way beyond the scope of anything this article is going to attempt.
Lawful Neutral – TEST Alliance Please Ignore
Key Concepts: True to their word, generally stick to their deals.
TEST has a reputation for being a principled, if not benevolent, actor. Their difficulties last year surrounding former coalition-mate and ally Circle-of-Two centered around TEST being unwilling to break their deals. They felt they had to hold to the letter of their agreed-upon terms with DRF. That dedication to their given word ultimately proved stronger than their friendship with CO2.
True Neutral – Signal Cartel/Eve Scout
Key Concepts: Neutrality as a credo.
Who could be a better example for true neutrality, than a group of players who are solely committed to the peaceful exploration of Space? Their work inherently neither helps nor harms anyone, but a case could be made for both. Facilitating travel means facilitating war. But it’s just war in a computer game, so we hope the pixels don’t suffer.
Chaotic Neutral – Triumvirate
Key Concepts: Freedom as their highest good, even at the cost of breaking deals.
Being notorious mostly for their will to fight, Triumvirate has lately gotten the image of turning on their former allies. Seen by some as unreliable, by others as ‘just doing their own thing’. TRI has managed to walk the line on this well enough to retain a number of allies, but it’s an open question as to whether or not anyone trusts them.
Now we’re talking. Let’s face it, evil is what EVE does best: groups of self-interested individuals banding together for power, for money, or just to go beat up some unsuspecting miners. It could be a little disheartening to see how much of the game considers ‘evil’ acts to be the highest forms of EVE gameplay. EVE, though, is a game about the players’ stories, and the most interesting characters in any story are always the villains. Or at least the anti-heroes.
Lawful Evil: The Imperium
Key Concepts: Order, Stability; ‘Your best friend or your worst enemy’.
Being an autocratic system with a strict set of polices and an armada of both bureaucrats and military commanders execute them, the Imperium has a reputation for being something of a totalitarian regime. While not internally oppressive, members are expected to accept the idea that the good of the whole comes first. In addition, treaties and deals, once made, are strictly binding. The Imperium may withdraw from a treaty, but will never break one that is still in effect.
Neutral Evil: Panfam
Key Concepts: Only act when they benefit from it, No qualms about turning on allies.
Being referred to as the Coalition with the biggest Fleet of Super-Capitals, the Pandemic Family of alliances has arisen to be the supposedly biggest bully on the playground. Other entities are routinely preyed upon or pushed around when possible. PanFam’s interests are simple, and direct: provide themselves with fun that doesn’t threaten their self-image as powerful, and often ‘elite’ players in EVE Online.
Chaotic Evil – The Code
Key Concepts: Cruel, Selfish, no value for other lives.
We struggled a bit with this evaluation, as our first considerations would be putting “Code” on the Lawful end of this scale, but at the end of the day, the uncontrolled mass murder of “bot aspirant” Newbros and the capriciousness under which James 315´s “laws” are executed make him very much look like the man who would be glad to see High sec burn in order to be King of the Ashes.