To the uninitiated EVE Online looks like an average video game, but it's really an online intergalactic spreadsheet manager with more micromanagement than starship battles. Anyone who has played in EVE Online’s universe over the last 15 years knows the game can be a complex microcosm of humanity’s worst tendencies with an occasional, rare shooting star of positivity.
With all the financial wheeling and dealing of Wall Street, the political backstabbing of Game of Thrones, and the intergalactic scale of Star Wars, EVE Online has become a breeding ground for some of gaming’s most epic and wildest stories spanning a universe filled with hundreds of thousands of players. From some of the largest, most expensive battles in gaming history to a four-year-long revenge quest to the game's connection to the events in Benghazi, there are some truly unbelievable stories in EVE Online.
Sometimes, a video game world crosses over into the real world. That's what happened when Sean Smith, a member of the US diplomatic team in Benghazi and a member of EVE Online’s Goonswarm guild, died, along with three others, at the hands of a mob that stormed the consulate in Libya. His fellow goons were some of the first to know about it.
Smith, known in EVE Online as Vile Rat, was communicating with the leader of Goonswarm as the mob gathered outside the building, messaging, "Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our 'police' that guard the compound taking pictures." Later, Smith typed “GUNFIRE” before disconnecting from chat for the last time.
Smith's death was a significant loss for the guild. As a member of Goonswarm’s old guard, Vile Rat was well known throughout EVE Online’s universe. He used his diplomatic skills in service of his guild and he even let his guildmates help design his tattoo.
As news of the attack spread, the community around Goonswarm came together to mourn Smith’s passing. Players re-named space stations after him, left tribute messages in forums, and launched a fundraiser to support Smith’s family.
EVE Online players got their own taste of what it means to get screwed over by banks long before the financial crisis the real world faced in 2008. In 2006, a player named Cally realized he could make a whole lot of money by simply getting other players to give it to him. EVE's players earn the in-game currency, called ISK, by completing quests, mining, or engaging in more nefarious activities and Cally started the EVE Intergalactic Bank to accommodate them.
It seemed like a helpful service. Cally gave out loans to players who wanted to buy mining equipment or start corporations and encouraged players to deposit their spare ISK into accounts held in the EIB’s name. He further enticed players by claiming that those accounts would gain a little interest every month.
Eventually, Cally executed every banker's dream: he drained the accounts and walked away. Cally’s haul amounted to 790 billion ISK, around $170,000. Comfortable in his role as EVE Online’s biggest villain, Cally flouted his clients’ stolen money by buying a massive warship, putting a bounty on his own head, and flying out into space. The community was understandably upset and there were talks of how to punish these kinds of “criminals,” but EVE Online remains a free-market wild west.
In EVE Online, as in life, it’s all about who you know. For new players, the experience can be daunting and joining the right guild or corporation is key. One player, Darvo Thellare, tried a new approach: he and another player Lunarion started their own group for newbies. The goal was to recruit other new players and help them learn EVE Online’s notoriously difficult systems. Unfortunately, Thellare's group caught the eye of Kackappe, who harassed the coalition of newbies for months. Thellare and his gang of inexperienced players struggled to fight back.
After months of harassment, Thellare, fed up and frustrated, swore he would exact revenge on Kackpappe “somewhere and some when.” Kackpappe moved on, but Thellare never forgot. He and Lunarion spent the next four years becoming skilled mercenaries in the outer reaches of EVE Online’s universe.
Eventually Thellare joined a new guild and told them his story. The guild agreed to help Thellare fulfill his thirst for vengeance. They lured Kackpappe to join the guild with the promise of a massive payday and Kackpappe took the bait.
As Kackpappe flew his ship into his new guild’s hangar, Thellare executed his plan. He changed his name and invited Lunarion into the chat channel so he could witness this moment that was four years in the making, just as the entire guild unleashed fire on Kackpappe. He lost his entire ship and all his belongings, just as he realized who had plotted his destruction.
EVE Online players have created a fully functioning free market complete with corporations, trading, and acquisitions. Of course, players in EVE Online can also murder each other and even get paid real world dollars to do so, which means assassins guilds like the Guiding Hand Social Club are pretty powerful.
The Guiding Hand Social Club is a group of players that kill other people for money - and steal their stuff for good measure. One particular assignment found the GHSC tasked with assassinating Mirial, the CEO of a corporation called Ubiqua Seraph. Upon delivery of Mirial’s corpse, the client would pay 500 real-world dollars, a pretty big payday for a virtual hit.
But getting to Mirial wouldn't be easy. Mirial was holed up in an Apocalypse class starship (roughly the Eve Online equivalent of a Death Star) so the assassins had to be smart. Several members of the hit squad infiltrated Ubiqua Seraph, Mirial's corporation, and worked their way up the ranks over the course of one actual year. One of the assassins even became the second most powerful member of the corporation. That’s dedication.
Once the pieces were in place, the assassins made their move. They killed Mirial, and, because death means very little in the world of EVE Online, stole everything they could from the corporation’s accounts, and blew up the rest. As promised, the GHSC delivered Mirial’s corpse to their client for $500 - and scooped up around $16,000 worth of stolen goods along the way.