Posted inGames

What would you do with 790 Billion ISK?!?

Only a couple of people reading this blog probably have any idea what “ISK” is. (Of course there are probably only just a couple people reading this in the first place, so I think I’m safe in saying that I’m effectively serving my audience. ;-))

Interstellar Kredits (or ISK) is the currency in the world of EVE Online (which I have discussed previously). EVE features an open economy, where the players are responsible for almost all of the buying and selling in the game. The economy is closely tied with the political aspect of the game, which of course is also player driven. Corporations rise and fall as they struggle for market dominance and control of valuable resource-rich territory.

Unfortunately the economy is so flexible and open-ended, players can fall for the same scams that sometimes work IRL (in real life). Recently, the mother of all online scams was perpetuated in EVE Online, as discussed in this article from the MMORPG blog on…

It’s the story of a guy named “cally”, who ran a corporation, a player-operated bank called “Eve Intergalactic Bank”. Over the course of four months, hundreds of players deposited money in his bank, which offered interest, loans and insurance like every other ordinary bank. Except for the fact that one day, cally decided to grab all the money that was deposited and fly off to space with an alleged total sum of 790 billion Isk. In real life, this would translate to $170,000 – quite possibly the biggest MMO scam ever conducted.

Not only that, he also took the time to record a video in which he confesses his crimes, makes fun of the community, and reveals that he is a pirate, who once held the highest bounty in the game.

Here’s a link to the video on Google, but be warned… It contains some expletives, is occasionally difficult to understand, and worst of all, it’s really really boring. The most interesting quote from the video comes right at the beginning…

This is an official announcement from Cally of the EIB. Just to let you all know, yes, it was a scam. Sorry about that, but, what can I say? I scammed you.

As a result of this scam, a debate has broken out in the EVE community, and the MMOG world at large, discussing what if anything should be done about situations like these… Should the game developers step in to take action against the scammer and restore the lost money, or is it simply caveat emptor (buyer beware)?

Keep in mind, no actual money was stolen (just a huge investment in game-playing time) and no specific in-game rules were broken. So, in this particular situation, I personally am leaning in the “buyer beware” direction. (Of course, it wasn’t my ISK.)

I find it extremely interesting how virtual worlds like EVE (and Second Life and World of Warcraft and many others…) are starting to model real-world behaviors more and more.