Yarr, what be Piracy?
I took three days off from blogging and what you see in the image above happened.
My esteemed fellow blogger Johnny Twelvebore recently wrote a post about what Piracy meant to him. For some strange reason human beings feel an odd need to label everything, as if all human activity, abilities, and essence needed to be packaged into neat little boxes. I have spent my entire life fighting such labels, both personally and professionally. And I'm here to tell you I have made zero progress. It is like beating your head against a brick wall. (You'll just have to trust me when I say I've been fighting this fight my entire life, those of you that know some of my history may appreciate the truth of this. I don't have the time to educate the rest of you right now.)
Inside of Eve, labels are just as silly. I personally cringe when someone tries to stick a post-it-note on my forehead inside of Eve. Or on anyone else. All we have a right to label is "actions", not intent. Actions are a provable element and represent data that can be shared almost immediately. I see a ship fitted with WCS and I immediately and with some justification, can make relevant observations regarding the user. These assumptions may be wrong-headed in the sum total of that person's existence, but they are legit observations in the moment. The ship did indeed have WCS fitted, so that person is someone that uses WCS in a combat based space simulation. Case closed. Beyond that I make no judgements, I'm sure they are nice to their Mom and love kittens in the real world.
People have been trying to label Pirates for years. And I've spent my fair share of time on this blog writing about what piracy means to me. As in real life, I've actually done something about it and started a Pirate Corporation based entirely on what I believe "piracy" is and isn't. Putting your money where your mouth is, in other words. So I'm going to tell you what I think Piracy is, and is not, inside of Eve. This will not make some people happy. I can't help that. Some people are going to disagree with me, and that is fine. I'm not trying to get everyone to agree with me, in order to do so means I would have to write crap that had no point-of-view and I refuse to do that. This is my opinion. My opinion is awesome, which is why I make the big bucks.
A Pirate lives by a Code. A Code that is first and foremost their own and that secondarily fits within a larger Code of the group to which they belong. In our case the Stay Frosty Code consists of only two elements, we honor all agreements (primarily 1v1s and Ransoms, but our word is our bond) and we take no action that harms our own. Pretty simple stuff, but inside of that context there are hundreds of individual codes that our players adhere to. Each to his or her own. A Pirate makes no judgements on how his fellow mates conduct themselves within the larger context of the group Code. Our pilots are free to load whatever goddamn ammo they want in their guns or missile bays. Or whatever else they feel like doing.
A Pirate fights against the odds. True pirates do not form large groups, this is anathema to the entire concept of piracy. Piracy is primarily a hit and run action that limits the exposure of assets to loss. A Pirate works hard for his or her isk and knows that protecting that investment is important - but it is not the primary consideration. Large fleets run contrary to that philosophy and a pirate avoids those. A Pirate is less concerned with "up-shipping" his target to death than he is about out-playing the target. Less isk invested means a larger return on that investment. Killing Cruisers with Frigates is a good investment. Killing Cruisers with Battleships is not. "Up-shipping" for the sake of a win is not piracy. It might be PvP, but even that is questionable. (In general terms "Fleet" based PvP means you are tied to investments beyond the individual, "ownership" is not piracy. Anyone that has static investments to protect cannot be considered a pirate. Tortuga can burn to the ground for all we care, we'll just base somewhere else thank you.)
In other words, the more social organization the less piracy.
A Pirate makes a significant portion of his or her isk from the act of piracy. Securing assets that did not originally belong to you is the basis of piracy. Loot in other words. The other day I ran out of Hobgoblins for the first time in over two years. I can't remember the last time I had to buy ammo, my enemies supply those things for me. Until recently all the faction mods I used in-game came from exploded assets. (Even I can't live 100% from loots however, the loot fairy just isn't that nice to us.) Asset acquisition is an important element of what makes a Pirate tick. A Pirate will often get into danger looting wrecks, or be exploded with a cargo full of loot. It is almost impossible in today's Eve to live like this exclusively, but a Pirate does the best that they can.
And finally the Element X of what makes a Pirate a Pirate. This one is harder to define, but it is what separates the pretenders from the adherents. A sense of daring-do, of rum infused fun, of black-humor, of death-defying feats, of ne'er-do-well tomfoolery, of good fights shared in local, of laughing in the face of danger, of rushing to a mates aid even when you know they are doomed, of helping an enemy learn from their mistakes, of saving the women and children, the extra thing that makes a Pirate different from the other PvPers in space. Pirates don't commit piracy because they are evil, and this is a common misconception. Pirates commit piracy because they can't live under the rules, because they've fallen on hard times, because they are fighting injustice, because they might very well be insane.
I just eliminated about 90% of the false Pirates in Eve. Maybe 75%, hard to say. But most of the groups that go by the label are not actually Pirates, it takes more than living in Low Sec to make you a Pirate. Heck, sometimes I'm not even a Pirate. But the majority of the time I am and have been for a long, long time. To the other groups, nothing wrong with being what you are. And I make no judgements either way. Carry on. I refuse to attempt to label you.