The King of Scapegoats

The Mittani has long been called the “King of Space.” Though he is reviled by many in this game for a myriad spectrum reasons ranging from “arrogance” to “he killed my alliance,” the Goon-king recently earned a certain level of grudging respect from many players – myself included – as a result of his efforts on CSM 6.

Pushing for vital changes at the height of the Jita riots, when CCP stood on the very edge of the abyss, The Mittani has been nearly-universally praised by his former CSM colleagues for his extraordinary efforts as chairman.

The Mittani helped organize the CSM into a effective organization for the first time, using Skype and other forms of communication to hold informal meetings, so that they would be effective when they faced CCP.

Though many view him as self-interested, the renewed emphasis by CCP on (FiS) “Flying in Space” is attributable in no small part to his advocacy, and this shift has been very popular with the broader community.

CCP’s top executive even mentioned him by name during the keynote presentation at fan-fest this year, where his contributions during the crisis were mentioned. In particular, Hilmar specifically discussed the somewhat tense “emergency summit.”

Many have already discussed the overly-harsh, knee-jerk reaction by CCP to Mittani’s gaff. I am among those who think he should have been allowed to stay on the CSM as a delegate, if not as the chairman; especially after his heartfelt apology, resignation as chairman, and generous compensation paid to the “victim” in this case.

What I want to focus on is something else, CCP’s complicity and hypocrisy in this whole affair. CCP saw the slides in advance. Think about that for a moment. They KNEW that Mittani’s presentation was going to focus on the time spent griefing a player that later claimed to be suicidal as a result of serious real-life issues.

Did CCP prevent this from going forward? Of course not, Eve is all about this kind of behavior. The only real competitive advantage Eve has is its cold, heartless galaxy full of players looking to take full advantage of the sandbox.

Now, and this part is critical, what exactly did CCP approve in his presentation? Based on the facts given in the CCP-approved slide-show, anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of a publicly-available kill-board could already find this pilot’s name with minimal effort.

It doesn’t even end with their knowledge of the slides. Consider what these panels are like – generally speaking. If fan-fest is a “party at the top of the world,” then the alliance panel is like a meeting of all the crime-bosses responsible for supplying the drugs and every other manner of vice.

CCP green-lit presentations from people who represent all of the most violent, lawless play-styles in Eve – from suicide ganking, to black-ops ganks, to worm-hole ransoms, to 0.0 blobbing and conquest.

We got to listen to singing ransoms, scamming stories, and plenty of examples of high-sec “griefing.”

They gathered these brutal braggarts, and then fed them tons of booze, all before shoving them in front of microphones set to broadcast LIVE across the internet. What could possibly have gone wrong with this plan?

The lack of foresight here is astounding. That is, of course, if you believe they really care about the kind of behavior The Mittani displayed in the slightest.

I certainly don’t think they ever thought for a single moment about this “Wis” individual. He was just another great story in the dark history of Eve.  That’s certainly how I felt watching the panel.

If they felt the subject matter was even slightly objectionable, CCP could have done a broadcast delay (even as little as 30 seconds) on the live stream.

Had they done this, they would have been able to censor the name of the supposedly-suicidal pilot’s character, as well as some of the profanity in each presentation.

Or, alternatively, they could have censored the presentation material ahead of time by suggesting revisions to the presentations. But why should they have to?

These are the kinds of stories Eve players lust for, and I believe CCP enjoys them every bit as much as we do.

We’re all in this game for the kind of – at times brutal – freedom that we have to interact with (and indeed harm) one another.

The real problem is that CCP is still operating on the basis of a tacit acceptance that “anything goes,” but as soon as they get negative media attention about their players, they shove the offending individuals into the forefront and circle their wagons – feigning outrage and surprise.

They tell the community to HTFU – that’s “harden the FUCK up” one moment – then when people pick on each other in a way that raises flags outside the Eve community, they then turn around an put 100% of the blame on the shoulders of those gamers.

Why did they allow this story in the slides to begin with if they don’t find the idea of someone potentially killing-themselves over a couple-dozen internet spaceships to be amusing in the first place? Is that not strongly implied by their conduct? Is that not the greatest proof that “Eve is real” for the players?

It’s time for CCP to get called-out on this. They have been shameless in their attempts to court the press by convincing them that this was unforeseeable and shocking.

As someone who watched the panel, I didn’t even flinch when he named the name. It was neither surprising, nor shocking, when he joked that we could all go and try to make this guy kill himself.

In conclusion, CCP should have admitted they played a major role in this whole affair.

Either they should rethink they way they approve presentation materials before fan-fest, or they should stop contorting the Terms of Service and EULA to punish someone for an out-of-context real-life communication.

I feel strongly that, at a bare minimum, this means they should have shared in the responsibility. Instead, they came down hard on the man that – in many player’s eyes – had a major role in saving their company’s very soul last year.

The sad thing is, the gaming press will drop this story in a day or two, and even having him step-down as chairman would have been enough of a signal to non-Eve players that “the mean guy got punished,” but instead they removed one of the best voices we have on the CSM entirely.

For all the reasons stated above, as well as man others I have posted in the comments of various news-sites and forum posts, I can’t see CCP’s response as anything but cowardly.

They are just fortunate that The Mittani was so uncharacteristically willing to fall on his sword for them this time. Not everyone would do the same in this situation.

23 Responses to “The King of Scapegoats”

  1. Best blog is best.
    Very good writing, hit the nail on the head.
    The whole “affair” is totally ridiculous.

  2. x up for -a- kills Says:

    CCP didn’t see the slides before hand. Way to spread misinformation.

  3. [...] Some very prominent bloggers offer support in blog posts [...]

  4. Eeek. Something went wrong there. Correctly formatted post follows.

    Some comments on your article.

    “They KNEW that Mittani’s presentation was going to focus on the time spent griefing a player”
    Let me fix that for you:
    They KNEW that Mittani’s presentation was going to focus on the time spent griefing an UNNAMED player.

    “anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of a publicly-available kill-board could already find this pilot’s name with minimal effort.”
    How would you do that with “minimal effort”? Answering something along the lines of “oh, if you dont even know that…” would suck bad. Also, define “minimal effort”. Also explain why anyone would bother going to such lengths with no valid reason to do so.

    “the alliance panel is like a meeting of all the crime-bosses responsible for supplying the drugs and every other manner of vice.”
    Utter rubbish. If you have to create straw men to support your argument, you’ve already lost. Either that or your opinion of the alliance panel can’t get any lower.

    “They gathered these brutal braggarts, and then fed them tons of booze”
    Drama queen much? Fed them tons of booze? WTF? How’s this for size:
    ‘Hey Mittani, fancy a drink?’
    ‘Oh no thanks, I’ve got a presentation to make soon and if I get completely drunk, I might make a right cunt out of myself and behave in a manner that’s wholly inappropriate for my current position of CSM chairman.’
    Do you see that? It’s an example of an individual taking responsibility for his own actions. Unfortunately he didn’t though.

    “The lack of foresight here is astounding”
    It’s called treating adults like adults, not lack of foresight.

    “I certainly don’t think they ever thought for a single moment about this “Wis” individual”
    You got something right. They didn’t because they didn’t know his name. Neither did hardly anyone else. Until Mittani told everyone his name and to grief him into taking his own life.

    “…they then turn around an put 100% of the blame on the shoulders of those gamers”
    No. You are wrong, misinformed or a liar. They have taken some of the blame and have clearly stated that they will change things for next year. Again, making stuff up = your argument is false.

    “As someone who watched the panel, I didn’t even flinch when he named the name.”
    We agree on something.

    “It was neither surprising, nor shocking, when he joked that we could all go and try to make this guy kill himself.”
    Assumption made that it’s a joke. If it is, it’s not even in the slightest bit funny and is most definitely misplaced. Even Mittani agrees with me here!

    “In conclusion, CCP should have admitted they played a major role in this whole affair”
    They gave an adult a platform which they thought he could handle. You’ve demonstrated here that it was too much for him to be able to conduct himself in a manner fit for a CSM chairman. So yes, of course they played a major part in this, but they were doing the right thing by the majority of people and giving the alliance panel a lot of freedom.

    “I feel strongly that, at a bare minimum, this means they should have shared in the responsibility”
    “at a bare minimum”? ergo they should shoulder MOST of the blame? Seriously, do you really think so little of Mittani that you think he needs his arse wiping, his milk and cookies and tucking up at night by CCP? This speaks volumes about Mittani and / or your impression of him.

    “but instead they removed one of the best voices we have on the CSM entirely.”
    I mostly agree with this – he was quite a good member of the CSM.

    To me your article actually supports what a lot of people have been suggesting. Mittani is too immature and irresponsible to handle CSM chairman. You appear to believe he is less responsible for his actions than CCP are for HIS actions. If that’s really the case, I think you’ve just killed the CSM dead. You are actively encouraging CCP to draw in the leash and make puppets out of the CSM. Did you not consider this before going on your rant? Seiously, think hard about what you are saying here and the potential ramifications of your accusations towards CCP. IMO, they don’t bode well for the future of the CSM.

    CCP should be encouraged as much as possible to give CSM members as much freedom as possible, but you along with others are saying that this is over played drama is “at minimum” mostly their fault. If that is the case, then CCP have no other choice than to strangle the freedom of CSM members. In reality though, everything was fine and would’ve remained so but for just one individual, in a responsible position, getting drunk and not being able to control himself on a public platform.

    Stop trying to take the blame away from Mittani. He is 100% at the centre of this and it was he that chose to abuse the freedom that CCP afforded him. Sure CCP could’ve handled it better, but there is only one person who created this sorry mess.

    P.S. Shit me! Sorry for that lot. Got carried away!

    • Some fair assessments and for the record The Mittani has taken responsability for his mistake, CCP on the other hand has not. In the end, this was their event, they could have taken steps to isolate the incident; they did not. They have fully pinned the blame on Mittens as if he was somehow out of their control.

      In the State of the Goonion last night, My Man Mittens said he did a bad thing. He apologized to goons for his poor example. Not because he’d lost the CSM chair, but simply because he’d gone too far. I know the Moral Majority of New Eden are shocked now.

      Great blog post Easley.

      • Yeah I think Mittens has handled the post event drama very well. The apology seemed to be real. Stepping down from chairman was probably the right gesture.

        I still have respect for him. Though a bit less since today and his “let’s go on a rampage in Jita because CCP are now probably going to stop us having any fun at all so going on a Jita rampage will show us if they are now all evil, but we should only do it when my temp ban expires”.

        Straw man argument and a piss poor attempt at trying to get back at CCP. He was doing well handling the shit storm up to that point.

        btw could mr Admin please remove comment-859 – it’s mostly missing! Ta.

      • His Jita ganking event is merely a way to test CCP, to see if they are fundamentally changing now that they have Sony peering over their shoulder. I think it’s justified.

        The line about no longer “tolerating” certain player behavior in that CCP press release has me worried, since they worded it in a way that seemed to apply to the game as a whole. They said the game is now “growing up” or some nonsense along those lines.

        I’m not as much of a tin-foil hat blogger as Jester, but I do sense something foul coming from CCP now that they think they have this enormous new product launch (and partnership with Sony) to protect.

        I blame part of their reaction to the alliance-panel debacle on the new CMO, whose perspective on Eve lacks historical insight. Although I must admit I can’t prove this in any way.

    • As-per your request, I have deleted your other comment.

      And now my response(s):

      As a quick dislaimer, my post was not about whether or not The Mittani did something wrong. He clearly did go to far, even in this particular setting.

      The question is, was he the only one to blame for this? And if he is not the only one to blame, does his punishment fit his crime?

      The fact that the victim was un-named in the slides was actually a very thin veil of protection against catastrophe. It was an insufficient level of precaution for a public presentation like this where CCP knew that the presenters on this panel are historically drunk, where there was to be a formal Q&A, and where “sandbox” playstyles focused on causing misery are celebrated.

      More importantly, the slides (as they were approved by CCP) already had enough information to find this pilot’s name.

      There are 3 ways to accomplish this, with the most basic being simply looking for the 20 kills of his same ship in the same system on a public kill-board. I can narrow down the time-frame, the alliance involved, and the ship-type just from one slide.

      This isn’t even including information about the story I could get from Google searches (before the presentation) that turn up pre-existing discussions of this event by Goons that give away further details (and even his name in several already-public threads). I assure you people who wanted the information could access it, and many Goons already knew this guy’s name ahead of time.

      If CCP was worried about his name being released, then they shouldn’t have approved that part of the presentation at all. It’s actually very foreseeable how discussing this slide could lead to the name being discovered (either by request or investigation) – and indeed how it could even be interpreted as a call-to-action against said individual.

      Moreover, I believe that they never even thought about the topic of cyber-bullying when putting together a panel of alliances famous for griefing. The slides for at least 3 presenters focus on forcing people into uncomfortable positions, and indeed publicly humiliating them.

      For them to feign outrage and punish The Mittani to the extent they did was an over-reaction, especially in light of his actions after the incident.

      The bottom-line is that neither CCP nor the presenters saw the potential for what happened, but CCP was in the best position to control the out-come. They were both the broadcaster and the censor. They had control over the subject matter, the venue, and all the technology being used to transmit and edit the footage.

      I also believe that CCP may owe a duty to The Wis and any other customer as a result of their editorial control over the presentations at fan-fest. If Mittens were to be sued, they would likely have a degree of vicarious liability here. Failing that, they certainly had an ethical duty beyond what the presenters owe to fellow gamers.

      CCP has a greater burden on themselves, especially since they have nurtured a culture of villainy in Eve for nearly a decade, to set the limits of acceptable “public shamings” in the future.

      Finally, the point of my post was not to totally absolve The Mittani of responsibility. However, I feel that the overall atmosphere of fan-fest (and indeed the alliance panel presentation) along with the approval of the subject-matter by CCP means that he is not 100% responsible.

      After I wrote my post, CCP admitted they need to make changes for next year, but that won’t put The Mittani back on the CSM. He has paid more than I believe he should have for this blunder – and I honestly believe the name was mentioned on mere whim, without malice. The “call to action” – I believe – was made in jest. No one can know for sure, other than The Mittani himself, but I am not convinced he wanted someone to die in real life, especially after listening to him speak about it on the Soundcloud recording of the SoTG.

      The whole “if you want to make him kill himself then go find him” comment got a hearty laugh from the room, and I took it as a joke. Maybe – in hindsight – if you are not drunk and also have not just sat through an hour-long presentation full of “war stories” about humiliating people this seems crude and unconscionable, but it was merely par for the course as far as I am concerned.

      Interestingly, Mittani is a (currently unemployed/retired) lawyer by profession, and as such, he could probably tell you that most states now look at tort-cases in terms of “comparative fault” in the United States. I think that, if we were to apportion fault between CCP and The Mittani here, it would be something like 65% The Mittani’s Fault, and 35% CCP’s fault. That is not well-reflected in the final punishment.

      The proper punishment, and one that would have satisfied the media, would be simply to strip him of the chairmanship. This would play in the media as “the chairman was forced to resign his position,” without removing his important voice from CSM 7.

      • I agree much more with this comment. Pretty much all of it. CCP have absolutely over reacted and I’m with you many other points you make. The name dropping isn’t that bad. The kill yourself bit is though. As I said before, CCP are not blameless and they certainly could’ve handled the situation better. Mittens is clearly the main factor in all this though and by quite a margin. I thought your article was breezing over that singularly important point.

        All that aside, I’m not actually sure (without hindsight) what CCP could’ve done. Had they clamped down on the alliance panels attitude, conduct and content beforehand, I can pretty much guarantee that CCP would’ve been under a lot of heavy fire from a lot of people saying how they’re dumbing EVE down etc. They didn’t do that and yet still they are having that accusation thrown at them from different quarters, Mittani included.

        I guess my point is this. CCP were damned if they did something and as transpired, damned if they didn’t. I don’t see how they could’ve “won” either way. I’m still not saying they handled it well, but I don’t see how they could’ve done much before hand without people kicking off about being censored, restricted, dumbing down eve etc. and to that end, I felt your article unfair and unbalanced in its outlook. Thanks for your reply.

      • I think CCP could have prevented what happened by editing out the slides and prohibiting any discussion of the potentially-suicidal player when they had a chance to review the presentation, and I have no doubt that in 2013 nothing like this will be allowed.

        Perhaps even cautioning him not to mention the name in the Q&A would have been enough. It really seems like they had very little input, based on what we have seen, which reinforces my view that NO ONE saw this coming.

        I think the fact they were all caught off-guard means that they should have been more lenient in punishing the offender. If there were stricter guidelines about what could not be said, then the odds that this would have happened would have gone way down.

        The Mittani is usually a very thoughtful guy, I have no doubt that – if cautioned by CCP – he would have colored within the lines on this presentation.

        The problem is that CCP – just like the rest of us – revels in the chaos and excitement of these “controversial” presentations.

        Heck, they hired both CCP Soundwave and CCP Sreegs after their alliance panel presentations, and they both play major roles in the company now.

        For those who don’t know, they both represented Goonswarm on past alliance panels, and I believe the tradition of “reckless, brutal, and funny” is consistent across all 3 presentations.

  5. [...] the way, this was a ~goodwrite~. Share this:ShareRedditTwitterFacebookEmailDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  6. Blistered Avalon Says:

    Great post as usual, Easley. Signed!

  7. turaelin Says:

    While I do like your post and read yer blog, I gotta hang with Wilfred here… if for no other reason than Mittens hisself has said he did a bad bad thing.

    You are arguing that he was not in the wrong against his own opinion of his own actions… tsk, tsk. Mittens crossed the OL/RL line… EVE isn’t real, but it’s players are and IRL they deserve the same respect we each give each other face to face, not how we act toon to toon…

    That’s the real issue here… where and how do we draw the line between IRL and ingame when our actions ingame effect the ‘real’ person sitting at the keyboard on the ship we just destroyed?

    Griefing is BASED on causing a real person to be upset, mad, butthurt, etc. Proof: try and grief an NPC and see how satisfying it is…

    • Read my reply to Wilfred and tell me what you think.

      He seems to agree now, or at least to a large extent.

      • Steady on there Easley! I don’t “agree now” with your original post – my opinion remains unchanged and I stand by all that I’ve said about it. It’s misleading, unfair and unbalanced. You spent the first few paragraphs bigging up Mittens (fair enough, he’s done some good stuff in the past) and the rest bashing CCP. Very little if any time actually stating that Mittens was drunk and out of line, which is and always will be, the main factor in all of this.

        In your post “March 29, 2012 at 8:31 pm” you presented stuff in a much more consistent and more factual way, less story telling, fewer straw men (IMO at least) and with at least some acknowledgement that Mittens was out of line and probably “more to blame” than CCP. Most of which I agree with and all of which was put across in a less melodramatic way.

        I have always thought that CCP should take some of the blame and to a small extent, they have acknowledged that. Maybe not sufficiently though. I also happen to think there is a good case for Mittens staying on the CSM – I haven’t changed my mind about that either. So, I may have always more or less agreed with your sentiments Easley, but your original article is still way off the mark and my original criticism still stands. Mittani is still the one who has let us all down.

      • Short Version —

        All I really meant to say was that you seemed to agree with me on the matter at hand after discussing the related issues further.

        I did not mean to imply that you changed your view of the original post, simply that we had come to a meeting of the minds to a large extent.

        If that is still incorrect then you have my further apologies in advance.

        Long Version —

        I was merely pointing out that he should read my reply to your post, because it seemingly bridged a communication gap.

        Apparently you view my reply as a totally new position, while I do not. If that is so, then we do not agree as I thought.

        Looking at it closely, my reply to your comment is really nothing more than a restatement of my original post with the added explanation about WHY the focus was on CCP’s role rather than Mittani’s.

        With that in mind, I do not share the same concerns you raise about balance. Since Mittens has born nearly all of the fallout from this event, I think it only right that an opinion piece would raise the question of CCP’s responsibility, and the fairness of his punishment.

        I don’t believe either parties are innocent, as I have said. Therefore, neither should be made into a scapegoat for what was a poorly-conceived event that involved multiple parties. This event – as I said in the original post – had an immense potential for things to go wrong in numerous ways due to its very design.

        I apologize if you feel offended that I conflated your approval of my second pass at the topic with an approval of the original post, though in truth I do not see them as anything more than an opinion piece on a controversial issue accompanied by a shorter explanation of the reasons for writing that piece.

      • “Apparently you view my reply as a totally new position, while I do not.”
        No. Not at all. I view your reply as more accurate, more sensible, more thought out, less melodramatic, less drama queen, less bigging up Mittens, less bashing on CCP. The sentiment clearly remains the same and I did not mean to imply I view it as a change of position.

        “I apologize if you feel offended…”
        No. Not at all. Compared to many others you are most polite! So quit with the apologizing will ya!

        I think I’ve made myself clear in previous posts, but just in case: I took issue with your original article as I found it far too rhetorical, sensationalist and biased. Low on sensible factual judgement, high on biased rhetoric. Putting stuff like “They gathered these brutal braggarts, and then fed them tons of booze…” in bold in your article did you no favours. It cheapens your valid points and only adds fuel to an already roaring fire. Essentially, I thought your article poorly conceived. Were your in-depth response to me an article, it’d be far superior to your previous effort as you stripped away most of the nonsense.

  8. For those who are annoyed by the SotG urging goons to burn Jita to test CCP, do remember that was a message as CEO, not CSM. Goons were, understandably, mad. Mad about the way yellow journalism was outright lying about Mittens. Mad about the way CCP interpreted the EULA in a RL event. Mad as hell about people threatening Mittani, Mrs. Mittani, and their adorable doggie.

    Nobody wants angry goons running amok in a hundred different directions. He’s the queen bee, and he needs to direct the swarm in a productive direction. Goons attract (and embrace) some destructive elements, continuously apologising and acting sad and humble wouldn’t control those elements. He has successfully refocused angry goons on our current war, with the promise of a fun “content generating” event in Jita in 30 days.

    Honestly, it is the best thing for goons and the best thing for Eve.

  9. I’ve read a good chunk of comments, and although they make good points, the one point that seems to break everything is the level of the comment suggesting that everyone attempt to make someone commit suicide.

    I personally don’t care for the name. I would have forgotten about it minutes after hearing it. Am I alone? Probably not. Are there those that would seek this guy out? Probably, but that’s a societal problem, not an MMO problem.

    I personally don’t believe that griefers have a spot on an orderly “ruling” body if you will. Griefers are there for chaos, they are to create chaos out of order. Mittens may have made order out of the chaos that was CSM, and may have done it well, but removal from CSM was just and it’s not a perm removal. He can re-run, and the players will have their word in the situation at that point.

    As for CCP taking responsibility for this mess? Yes, it was their event, yes it involved non-employee’s, but I don’t think CCP should take much of the fall. Did they set themselves up to fail? Probably, as it was stated. Griefers getting together with alcohol is a bad mix. Could they have limited their intake to prevent this as well? Yes. Fact is one person committed a societal sin, IMO. CCP should not take the fall, not in part or whole, for that one person. Mittens represented himself alone up there, which happens to reflect negatively on Goon and CCP as a sponsored individual.

  10. Teckos Pech Says:

    Kevin,

    They are almost all griefers to an extent on the CSM. Even an industrialist will engage in market PvP. I doubt a guy who merely wants to sit and mine all day has the motivation or the profile to get on the CSM.

    And I think that is the way it should be. This is Eve for crying out loud. It is a harsh nasty place. We need representatives that understand that and push to keep Eve a harsh and nasty place.

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