“My Split Personality” – Blog Banter #5

Welcome to the fifth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter

This month’s topic comes to us from Mynxee of Life in Low Sec. She asks “ Alts and Metagaming: Is playing two accounts who are logged in at the same
time and work together (hauler/miner, explorer/combat associate, trade alts in trade hubs) a form of metagaming that is “ruining the game”?”

articles at the bottom of this post!
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Now why in the heck would one want an alt, I just don’t get……wait, sorry, I thought that meant a nice alt beer vs. a pilse but I stand correct.  Let’s look at this subject a bit, possibly this needs to be analyzed.

What is “Metagaming”?
From Wikipedia:

“Metagaming is a broad term usually used to define any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game.In simple terms, using out-of-game information, or resources, to affect one’s in-game decisions.”

“A recent slang definition of Metagaming, popular among computer and video game fans, is any tactic in a computer or video game that uses one or more features of that game that lie outside the intended gameplay use, or exploit errors in programming structures. For example, a player who took advantage of a bug in the game to gain some advantage would be metagaming. An example would be deliberately getting one’s character killed in order to return to the last saved game.”

So, what we know so far:

  • Slang term
  • Tactic in computer gaming
  • Using external forces (outside the game) not available to X game character, for advantage
  • Exploit in game errors for advantage
Now let’s look at the word, broken down (from Dictionary.com):

Meta = While it has several meanings, in general it’s meaning that pertains to this topic is “beyond” or “in two places at once (such as certain chemical structures)”

Gaming = “An amusement, pastime, a competitive activity

And now we know:
  • It’s about being in two places at once
  • It’s about using forces outside a game to influence the game
The question has to be raised, where is the line drawn on what is considered morally wrong in meta-gaming.  CCP has historically taken a rather lose stance on this and sided with the more creative solutions aspects of the game.  Yet at the time of this post I have not heard from CCP on if they have a criteria for what is meta-gaming, including the line drawn between right and wrong.

Yet the question raised is specifically about “Alts” and are they meta-gaming.  Let’s look at this logically by what we know so far.

  • An “alt” is a tactic in the game
  • An “alt” is not external of the game (external would be outside the confines of the game)
  • An “alt” is not exploiting a flaw of programming in the game.
  • An “alt” is about being in two places at once
  • An “alt” is not about using forces outside the game to influence the game
Of course once could slice this and define things in such a way so as to change the logic here but as it sits, an “alt” is logically not a meta-gaming tactic.

Let’s look at a spy from X Corporation in the game who infiltrates their enemies external voice coms channels (Vent or Teamspeak):

  • External Coms spying is a tactic in the game
  • External Coms spying is external of the game
  • External Coms spying is not exploiting a flaw of programming in the game
  • External Coms spying is about being in two places at once
  • External Coms spying is about using forces outside the game to influence
=\  Hmm that does shed much light on things either, seeing that one of the criteria of “meta-gaming” is the exploitation of a flaw of programming in the game.

Ok, one more: “Starbase Exploit
  • Starbase exploit is a tactic in the game
  • Starbase exploit is technically not external of the game but it is external of the game mechanics as they were created
  • Starbase exploit is exploiting a flaw of programming in the game
  • Starbase exploit is not about being in two places at once
  • Starbase exploit is technically not using forces outside the game but rather outside the game mechanics
So is the “Starbase Exploit” an example of meta-gaming?  No, it is not as it has nothing to do with placing itself in two places at once.  Which is critica when looking at meta-gaming, the key definition of meta-gaming is “being in two places at once”.  Another key to meta-gaming is it has to be exploiting a flaw in the game.  By that definition alone it makes it illegal and punishable.

Using “alts” can not be a meta-gaming tactic so long as the game allows us to; a. create more than one character per account, and b. we are allowed to create more than one account.  If the above criteria were to be changed, not allowing multiple accounts, and one found a way to by-pass this, then we would be looking at a meta-gaming situation as it’s commonly defined in part as an exploit of a flaw in the game.

Finally, what is my opinion about “alts” and do they “ruining” the game; I find them to be flavoring to the game and not ruining it at all.  The use of “alts” is available to everyone and is in no way excluding anyone.  And example would be the corporation who wardec’s another and uses one day old “alts” to spy on the attacker before the strike.  The attacker also has the ability to use this tactic and probably already did to spy and gather intel.  “Alts” in my honest opinion should never be considered as meta-gaming tactics, they simply enhance the game by being another layer of play.

Interestingly, “macro mining” would not be meta-gaming as well yet it has been deemed an exploit and ruled as punishable.  Making it a separate thing and adding the “it’s illegal” statement to it.  Now being illegal we don’t have to debate if it’s meta-gaming or not.

In recent years the term “meta-gaming” has been ammended to include the “exploit of a programming flaw” as part of it’s definition.  Meta-gaming is something that is a part of everyday life from the creation of multiple consumer products in hopes that one will will the winner to the variable influences of military action and the politics behind them.  Even your high school basketball coach was meta-gaming when he watched the completion and used his intel to seek a win. My opinion would be if it’s not exploiting a flaw in the game, it’s not bad at all.
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