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.

Yarr!



19 comments:

  1. Once again, I'm disagreeing :D. But don't worry, you do things your way, we'll do it ours.

    And maybe a 1v1 at the sun once upon a time?

    :D

    Rob K.

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    1. I'd be curious about what you could possibly disagree with this time?

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    2. Ooooh, you almost drew me in, but I saw the trap. :P

      Ahh well, I'll got tackled anyway....

      The paragraph beginning "A pirate fights against the odds....", somewhat. "In other words, the more social organization the less piracy" in particular.

      I don't see how socialization is opposed to piracy? Civilization, I do see. (and the fact that I was forced to spell both of those words with 'z's irritates me =/).

      I also don't understand how Stay Frosty. (the number 10 corporation in Black Rise for kills), can be counted as a pirate corporation, but it is. Perhaps that's the insanity of piracy :P.

      And you know me, I like to disagree. I just hope I'm not disagreeable.

      Rob K.

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    3. I have another question that you can feel free to answer or not.

      What are alliances like Shadow Cartel and Snuff box? I'd say warlords, but they're civilized in their own ways. Tribes? Too organised. Rogue States? Not organised enough.

      What's your opinion?

      Rob K.

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    4. The more social organization, not socialization. Organization is anti-pirate in that it denotes "ownership" or adherence to property, over other considerations. Civilization to get your other "z" word in there. Pirates can be extremely social, in fact we encourage it, but they are individuals and not civilized members of an organized group. That would be anti-pirate.

      Which is why groups like Shadow or Snuff are not Pirates. And Stay Frosty is. Again, I wasn't trying to compare different groups in my post, only state what I feel are the foundations of what makes someone a Pirate in Eve. But it seems rather obvious. For example, Stay Frosty doesn't own a single POCO, or anything else for that matter. We don't charge TAX, if you charge players a tax in my opinion you are not a Pirate Corp. In the Old West there were "territories" that weren't states yet, I like to think of SC and Snuff along those lines. Trying to bring civilization to untamed lands.

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    5. Ah, I see it now. I was wondering if you meant that, but I figured you'd misplaced a comma. That line seemed surprisingly inelegant of you. (Which is meant as a compliment, I promise.)

      I'll admit, I'm still seeing ABA. as a socially organised alliance :P.(that's such a mouthful!)

      I think MiuraBull once said that a solo-focused corporation was a 'Killmail appreciation channel'. To me, ABA. is more than that, more organised and more 'together'. (Not that you don't do that too, I mean). Of course, my experience of you is only by osmosis. I still think you're pirates, just that the definition you used here isn't completely comprehensive.

      And as for 'wasn't comparing different groups', that was my personal question, so don't feel bad for answering it. I think its a good answer. I was thinking that proto-states like Kurdistan might be representative of them.

      I think my disagreement might be based on that fact that I'd like to believe that I'm a pirate, but I don't really fit in with your definitions. My poor space ego can't cope without pirate peer-approval :D

      Rob K.

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    6. See now you are mixing things up. ABA is an Alliance and is not a Pirate Alliance. Stay Frosty is a Corporation and is a Pirate Corporation. A Trout is a fish, but not all fish are Trout.

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  2. I can't possibly overstate the validity of this statement, and it deserves its own comment: "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."

    Speak boldly, or stay silent.

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  3. I personally believe nearly all of these, too. But the most important one is the "Element X" you refer to. There's a reason pirates of old lived "a sweet life and a short one". Being true to the pirate spirit in Eve has to be answering, "Let's find out," to the question, "Hmm... can we take that fleet?" To fight against the odds, to box above your weight, and to out-fly a superior fleet and make their FC scream at his own fleet members for how well you dismantle them. In my view, I don't consider someone a pirate who makes the decision to dock up to deny someone fights, who decides that isk efficiency is a good reason not to test yourself and try.

    Pirates should be Nietzscheans, throwing themselves onto the fire to temper themselves.

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    1. Our pilots ask, "I wonder what is in the Medium?" And I say, "Go find out."

      I wonder if they have a recon with them? "Let's warp in and see."

      They may have back-up. "So? That's good, more ships to fight."

      How many times should we chase them? "Until they are caught."

      There are a million examples, but they all come down to doing the deed. Fight the fight, find out for yourself, and dare to do.

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    2. I find that to be a very narrow definition, I'd say highsec ninja's are also pirates and they generally have most if not all the advantages in the fights they create.

      Still they engage in piracy, they steal from the missions and when they get the opportunity they kill for loot too. I don't see how they're any less pirates then the lowsec variety.

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    3. They are not Pirates, in my opinion, because they operate in the relative safety of lawful space - which makes them criminals, thugs and hooligans. Like any professional criminals they exploit cracks in the law for personal gain. That is not the same as capital P Piracy which we are talking about. If anything, one could perhaps argue they are lower case p pirates engaged in piracy.

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    4. But, as we know, you are never going to agree with me Kaeda.

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  4. What do you think 17th century pirates were in they eyes of most people of the era? Yea... ...criminals, thugs and hooligans. ;-)

    I don't know if you're a reader but if you are; http://www.amazon.com/Under-Black-Flag-Romance-Reality/dp/081297722X Highly recommended reading.

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    1. I've read it. And this is why analogy to real world history is rife with problems, this isn't the real world it is Eve.

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  5. Well, there's a real world (legal) definition for what constitutes piracy, I sort of fail to see the point to making a new one for EVE.

    We don't spend time making up new definition for trade, or hauling, or industry, or market speculation, or theft, so why for piracy?

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    1. Do we have real world definitions for High Sec gankers and war-dec exploiters? I guess I must have missed that one.

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    2. Uhm, my argument is we *do* have a real world definition for what a pirate is and therefore there is no need to invent a new one... Are you saying you agree with me?

      (Also highsec gankers can easily be equated to various forms of violent robbery, now if only the real world police had a succes rate as high as CONCORDS in catching the offenders... also highsec hauler ganking for profit would constitute a form of piracy)

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    3. Y'know, I bet within five minutes of actually setting down and talking you and I would realize we agree on just about everything of importance.

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