Real-Life Lobbyist Banned From Eve Online for In-Game Political Corruption

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Eve Online is a deviously complex space simulator that is sometimes jokingly called “spreadsheets in space.” The level of gameplay detail and extensive economy have fueled some bizarre events like in-game Ponzi schemes and space station thefts. Today, the world of Eve Online has leaked out into the real world in an unexpected way. Brian Schoeneman, a real-life lobbyist and lawyer, has been banned from Eve for abusing his in-game political position.

You need to know a few things about Eve Online to understand how Schoeneman got himself into this situation. Players can choose their own path in Eve, joining groups and alliances to amass power and wealth. Skilled players and groups can use the economy to inflict more damage on their enemies than they could with a fleet of decked-out battlecruisers. Behind all the seeming randomness are the game’s developers (CCP Games), and they seek feedback from players to keep the game fun and interesting. To help focus player feedback, the Eve Online universe has the Council Of Stellar Management (CSM), a group of democratically elected players who work with the developers.

Schoeneman, who goes by Brisc Rubal in Eve, won a spot on the CSM last year with the campaign slogan “Make Eve Great Again.” Being on the CSM comes with a strict code of conduct and real-life non-disclosure agreements (NDA). According to CCP, Brisc Rubal didn’t follow the rules and abused his power for (in-game) financial gain. He may also have violated NDAs.

Allegedly, Brisc Rubal used confidential information to help associates in his group “conduct illicit in-game transactions.” CCP Games hasn’t provided exact details of the supposed scheme but has mentioned that it will begin banning the use of electronic devices during CSM meetings. That suggests he might have let others listen in so they could game the system. In addition to banning Schoeneman permanently, a number of his co-conspirators have been hit with a one-year ban. So, while some game developers are working on new ways to push loot boxes, CCP Games is rooting out in-game political corruption. 

Schoeneman is threatening to take this conflict out of the Eve universe and into the courts. He claims this situation has affected his online and public standing. Although, it was his call to connect his online persona and real identity. Players often invest a great deal of time and real-world money in Eve, so it’s understandable he’d be upset, but the developer’s EULA makes it clear it can block players whenever it wants.

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