Philosophical Ranting of an Engineer

In 2005 Guiding Hand Social Club, in the game Eve Online, executed the great virtual heist in the history of gaming. The mercenary corporation was fulfilling an assassination contract on the CEO of Ubiqua Seraph. However, not only did GHSC destroy her ship, destroy her escape pod, and then capture her frozen corpse, they also infiltrated her corporation in total. Over a year in planning, Guiding Hand operatives infiltrated Ubiqua Seraph from top to bottom which allowed them to not only gain trust but also access to the corporation’s hangers. In a perfectly timed climax, Guiding Hand assassinated the target and simultaneously looted all of their target’s hangers stealing over 20 billion ISK (Even Online money) and inflicting damage estimated at 30 billion ISK. The amount stolen was valued at over $16000.

This is of course an operation executed on an unprecedented scale and rocked the Eve Online community as well as spreading to the entire online gaming community as well as traditional media. They key point to this story is that all actions while “illegal” and “wrong” in a role playing light, are all allowed within the game. Other players responded in a variety of ways, some praising Guiding Hand for their accomplishment, someone glad that the assassination target got what she deserved, and others condemning Guiding Hand for going beyond their assassination contract when they completely dismantled and destroyed Ubiqua Seraph. A few people even pleaded with the game developers to step in and condemn such an action but they apparently refused. Eve Online is one of the few games in existence that is open enough to allow for such events.

This brings to light the issue of self governance in games and how much the developer should step in when mistakes happen or contracts are broken. In World of Warcraft, if you accidentally destroy a valuable item you can often ask a GM (game manager) for help and they will recover the item for you. If someone hacks your account and steals all your gear they will attempt to return your character to his previous state. But if a guild member steals all of your guild bank’s items and leaves the guild, Blizzard has been satisfied to say “be more careful who you let access your bank.” When should player’s actions be governed by players and when should it be governed by the developers? Much of it depends on what actions have been built into the game and balanced. If the developers have attempted to make item transactions as secure as possible and there is a sense that trades agreements are sacred, then taking advantage of a loophole could justify punishment. But a game where theft and heists are expected, one should not expect the developers to police this activity.

Should all games allow events like the Guiding Hand heist? Of course not, but stories like this engage our imagination in ways that other games can’t.

Citations: GHSC Heist Press Release PC Gamer USA Article Wiki on GHSC

1 Response to “Response to Guiding Hand Social Club Heist”

  1. Darkell Says:
    Wow. I think that's awesome. It's part of the game, so it's part of the risk. People will always cry and whine saying, "It's not fair", and perhaps because they didn't know such a thing could be done. I think it allows organized guilds in the Eve Online game to be smarter and craftier if they want to keep themselves from complete destruction.

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