Yesterday I asked a simple hypothetical "thought-experiment" on Tweetfleet that went exactly like this, "One has to wonder where Eve would be today without the negative, egotistical power grubbing 'game ruining' presence of Mittens." As intended the question received some widely varying replies and responses. The intention, as this post will go one to explain in some detail, was to get people thinking. There is no answer to that question, we will never know what the Eve universe would be like without Mittens in it. The point is to think about what it would be like without him in it, to accept the reality of negativity, and its larger impact on subscription numbers, perception, and attitudes that have been accepted as "normal" for well over a decade.
The Pro side argues that Eve needs villains and that the Mittani serves as the perfect bad guy for that role. Granted, this is partially true. Eve does need bad guys, villains, content providers and figures that serve as a rallying point for aggression. This is a role that I myself serve in New Eden when in-game. As a scum-sucking Pirate I am a villain to those that are outside of my own Alliance. I've blown up a lot of things and I've received plenty of tears, anger, threats and harassment for that. It comes with the territory. There are literally thousands of players filling this kind of role in every corner of New Eden. We have a lot of villains.
But we only have one Mittani. A person who, by his own admission, rarely even plays the game. A person who, by his own admission, makes a full-time salary off the backs of his followers. A person who, at Fanfest while a CSM member, encouraged someone to commit suicide. This list could go on and on. If you've played Eve for any length of time you already know the litany. And the details vary depending on which side of several dozen coins you happen to land on. Viceroy programs. Websites. Reddit. Comic books. Failed Kickstarters. Ego-driven rewards. Yachts? I could go on and on.
Yes we need villains in Eve. But do we need this guy? Is the need for a focal point enough to justify the cost the game has paid over the past decade? Has the impact of such negativity been helpful or harmful to the success of Eve? Like I said before, the answers to these questions are un-knowable, we can't know the truth. Eve has been shackled in the shadow of a megalomaniacal, lucky to be in the right place at the right time, ass-wipe for a very long time. So it is difficult for anyone to imagine an Eve without him in it. Or outside of it, since he doesn't actually play the game.
Negativity breeds negativity. It seeps into the larger discussion, it permeates the media coverage, it dominates the narrative, it builds a dark, foreboding, and negative brand around Eve. This is not a thought-experiment, this is the truth. This is something that Eve has had to live with for a very long time. And yes, this conflict has given rise to many memorable events. Events that have been exploited in multiple forms for a very long time, the Eve narrative has been dominated by one person for over a decade. This is true. And we can't know what would have happened had that moment in time not given him the chance to make history. But we do know what he has done with it since.
"By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" - Some religious wisdom
You can't get good fruit from a bad tree. If you want to know the true nature of someone, watch the effects they have on their surroundings. To the people around them. What kind of works do they get involved with, who do they keep close, what impact do they have on the greater world?
Take a moment and imagine an Eve without Mittens. An Eve filled with villains, heroes, and players able to make their own mark on the greater narrative. An Eve with hundreds of villains, thousands maybe. Instead of one. To come down on the pro side you have to be willing to accept the consequences of your support, the entire litany of negative actions that come along with it. You have to carry all the baggage.
It is a weight that I don't think you should have to carry.