Scamming is usually something that is highly frowned upon in games, especially when there are real-money consequences.
There are plenty of examples of big scammers getting shut down in all sorts of popular online titles, but the team behind EVE Online isn’t going out of their way to stop scammers, in fact it’s widely considered to be part of the game, even if it can drive people crazy sometimes.
It definitely adds a new layer to the game, and you’ve really got to be on edge and suspicious of anything that seems out of the ordinary. There are players who will manipulate you for weeks or even months to gain just a little bit of your trust, just enough to stab you in the back, and that’s all part of the game.
Scammers in EVE Online have stolen just about anything you can imagine, and the devs just see it as part of the game, so it’s kind of like player-beware, you’ve got to look out for yourself because you never know what secret motives somebody might have. One scammer, in particular, recently spoke with Steven Messner from PCGamer in an interview, and we’ve got some of the highlights below.
Scooter McCabe is probabally the most prolific and successful scammer to hit EVE Online. He’s managed to manipulate people into giving him incredible ships, and even entire space stations, not to mention countless other schemes. He’s also done some good deeds and helped new players, so he’s kind of like a Robin Hood figure in a sense, but probabally a little more self-serving than Robin of Sherwood in the grand scheme of things.
He doesn’t feel bad about scamming players, he considers it a legitimate way to play the game. If it’s within the rules of the game, you can be a scammer without being a cheater:
“Scamming is a game of trust,” Scooter revealed in the interview. “It’s like a form of PVP, except you’re literally pitting one person’s intelligence against another. The common complaint about people who scam is that they’re sociopaths. But really, if you think about it, there’s actually a legitimate playstyle here where you don’t have to be a psychologically distressed person to perform a scam. It’s just a very grey area that you’re playing in.”
So when he successfully tricks another player, he sees it as a match of wits that he has won. It’s a way to prove he’s more intelligent than his marks. He talks about how it’s not about being a slick talker, but more about being a good listener, and using what the person is telling you against them. You can find their weak points, their desires, and a good scammer will figure out a way to exploit that.
“You have to be a good listener.. You can’t just be waiting for your turn to speak but actually listening to the person and processing what they’re saying.”
The interview continues with Scooter revealing some of the traits that are important if somebody wants to become a successful scammer:
“You have to be patient, because it’s not a race to the end,” Scooter confessed. “To make 30 billion ISK, it might take you an hour or two to talk that person out of their money. That’s still a hell of a payday, but you need to be patient. Being impatient, or wanting the score so badly that you start pushing the person, they’ll notice and back right off on you. The third thing is being adaptable and creative. Shit can go sideways, but if you keep it spinning sideways, you can eventually get it upright again. Just because someone throws a monkey wrench in the operation doesn’t mean it’s done as long as you can be creative.”
You can look at this as a lesson on scamming, but to the contrary, you could also see it as a way to better understand the scammers, and in turn use it as a tool to avoid being scammed. If it’s a game of intelligence, and the scammers are studying you and your psychology to determine how to rip you off as part of their game play strategy, it only stands to reason that you should be sharpening your own proverbial sword in order to get into their heads, and not fall for any of their tricks.
If you’ve ever fallen for a scam, it can be humiliating, but chances are you aren’t ever going to fall for that same scam again. It’s a learning experience. Some people get scammed and then turn to the dark side and decide to become scammers themselves, and usually that wouldn’t be okay, but in EVE Online it’s just part of the game. What are your thoughts about the scamming culture that exists in this game, do you think it adds a fun realistic element, or would you rather it not be there at all?