Battle Pirates as a Social Experiment


"Sector Wars" Sectors 276 & 275 go at it!

Let me start off by saying that I only have an AS degree (Santa Rosa Junior College) and that part of my hobbies in my life has been the on/off study of psychology. I am a 49 year old woman who has always loved watching ‘folks’ and has spent far too much time puzzling over human behavior and what makes people tick.

Having said this– I’ve run into a game on Facebook. My husband begged me to play it. At first I refused. Mostly because I don’t see myself as a ‘pirate’ type. I did decide to play after I found out that my older kids were playing. I then saw it as a way to have some fun time “together” over a distance.

This game, of course is set in a two dimensional setting. It is a pirate game. There are basically no rules to the game. I am finding it very interesting that folks are making groups to help them advance their cause, and to secure their ‘sectors’ and even to provoke ‘sector wars’. There are clans of every sort: Family, Friends, buddies, etc. There is a real time chat there so folks can, if they wish, collaborate, or  get to know others. This also allows folks to move these game based ‘relationships’ beyond the game and into real or potentially real ‘world’ via Facebook communication & friendships.

But, what I am finding is that there is some blurring between the ‘game’ and ‘real life’, probably by those who play way too much!

But, I also have other concerns, as the anonimity of the game allows people to ‘dehumanize’ people in other sectors and label them ‘bad’ folks nearly immediately. I might add, that I find myself not so innocent, as I quickly jumped into labeling players ‘friends’ or ‘foes’, and failed to take into consideration that they were real people with real playing preferences.

I found it interesting that when people did ‘friend’ each other on the Facebook level, thereby having personal information available that handles (play names) were thrown to the wind within the game in an effort to bring in just enough reality to get someone to conform to the desired behavior (i.e. “Peggy,” (vs. SFF_TigerEyes)“if you’d just shut your mouth then the bully wouldn’t bully you”).

Some clans of people, will designate themselves enforcers of behavior within their sector (The number one rule seems to be no ‘hitting’ inside the sector, but it’s ok to go outside the sector and “hit” other people there). I kind of see them as the Sector Dons; The GodFathers. Depending on their own character (their personal ‘real’ moral character) They may break their own rules, but others may not. If others do, not only are they attacked relentlessly (i.e. bullied) on the playground (bashing of base, and mining fleets attacked) but, also in chat they are personally attacked. And, it gets in the way of real life friendships, and potential friendships —because people use the ‘it’s just a game’ to justify the bullying, and to excuse the bullying. (At this point, I will wonder, only because I have NO clue if I’m right, but does this reek of addiction??  When it gets in the way of REAL relationships?)

Alliances are formed between groups, much like alliances between countries in the real world.  Alliances allow the Godfathers to continue to dominate the game and enforce their rules (good or bad).  These alliances also give them a sense of correctness because their peers are backing up whatever stand they are taking at the moment; right, wrong, or indifferent.  As in the real world, an alliance can be good, evil, or anywhere in between.

I have told my two oldest daughters, that I don’t see this as a game anymore. I’m sure they think I’m totally nuts. (Also note, the people within the game stated that I’m nuts.) Instead, I see it as a kind of test tube. A small slice of human behavior contained in a virtual world where behavior seems to be run ala “Lord of the Flies” style.

I know that I’m only touching on the basics and not even all of that. I see behavior within the game as a mirror of the greater society, and I admit that I find the relationships fascinating. At this point, I play not to spend time with the kids, because my big mouth (I’m a very verbal girl, remember this is how women got the right to vote!), and other’s bullying has caused my husband and I to move to a different sector from my children. Instead I am there, reading the chat, and getting to know the folks so that I can understand what ever will happen in this new sector. Though, I’d venture to say that probably in the end, the same thing will happen here as in the last one, and the last one. Bullies have a tendency to take over. Or at least people that I see as ‘bullies.’  Please, keep in mind, that these people are in fact, folks that others will vouch are fine people in real life.

Part of what caught my attention to this ‘behavior study’ is that it brought up ‘old stuff’ for me.  My ex husband beat me nearly every night in our early married years.  Every night I ended up in tears, one night I ended up with a broken tooth!  Everynight, I’d ask him he felt bigger because of what he did, because yes, I got angry.  Everynight, he’d look at me like I was an idiot, and proclaim his innocence.  “I’m just playing, what’s the matter with you?”  Question: How many bruises did I recieve inside and out??  Answer: More than I’d ever want to count.

People in the pirate game are basically doing the same thing.  There are people who actually prefeer to play in a peaceful manner and once they voice that, they become a target, and once they stand up for it, well, they are chided even in the chat! And yes, it’s a game, and one can quit. But, what if one’s family is there playing?? Then it becomes less a game, and more personal, something worth fighting for! Lesson learned: Keep big trap zipped!

This whole experience with this game, still ongoing, has taught me that when the “bullies” in the game got really personal, and people started defriending folks on the ‘real’ side, i.e. Facebook friendships outside of the game. [note: I became the ‘independant’ i.e. the one who had to be forced to conform; perhaps the ‘loose canon.’] this all just  really reminded me of THE Prison Experiment (1971, Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., Sanford University).

It’s not the same thing, but, oh it is.  And that is a sad statement for humans and the effect of gaming on human relationships in general for this has affected could-have-been beautiful potential friendships, and established family relationships.

For example, it was fasinating to watch someone who felt he’d be run out from the previous sector by bullies turn on a woman who felt bullied and was trying to play by her conscious. Not only did he side with the bullies, but he ‘attacked’ her as well, and defriended her on the Facebook side as well.  I can tell you, the woman was, incredibly hurt by what felt like a betrayal, and by the loss of a potential ‘beautiful’ friend. She holds her friendships dear to her heart.

And yet, there are wonderful people playing there as well.  People who play peacefully, and who are capable of treating their neighbor with courtesy and kindness. Civility does not fall through all the cracks, or through all the cracked ones.

The chemistry for me is just captivating, and yet too painful in real life to go back and try to talk to these people to understand their actions.  Instead, I’d love to take a researcher’s seat– to stand back and watch what is going on, and stay in the backseat and watch as personal relationships grow and fall apart, because of rules in a ‘virtual world’ reign supreme even in real life relationships.

I’d like to thank CptnDeadeye, and Greenbay for their kindness.  Thank you to CaptainDeath, DavidK, Pitbull, WPD_Barry, Scor, SirFerret, Paul_D, KillerD (for not hitting me back) and others for helping me to understand myself a little more.  Some of us were particularly kind.  Some of us were very unkind, and some of us were simply trying to stand up for what was right, even in a ‘virtual world.’

“Legitimi non carborundum”

About PeggyAnn

Professional PC Consultant, Researcher, & avid people watcher, Peggy Ann Rowe started into her genealogical quest at age 15 after watching the mini-series, "Roots" with her parents. This new obsession has fueled her love of history, & study of cultures & societies in every epoch. Today she is 57 years old with four kids who are all grown up (& all have flown the coop). In between her 'gigs' with clients she volunteered at many different non-profits. Former President, Secretary, and Director at Large on the board of the Douglas County Historical Society for 10+ years, and former Secretary at the Cloverdale Historical Society (Sonoma County) for nearly 10 years. This website is an attempt to share the knowledge she has gained about her family ties with others who may be interested in the same things. She does not guarantee 100% accuracy and does hope that you will send corrections. To learn more about her, click the "about" button in the page menu. Thanks! Another goal of this website is to disseminate a message (i.e. education) about domestic violence, child abuse, and all forms of sexual abuse to society at large. The message comes from real experience from the whole spectrum of the violence from sexual abuse by a perpetrator to sexual abuse perpetrated by a husband, to the abuse of children within the family. Peggy has seen it, lived it, and been hurt by it. There will on occasion be details that might be hard for some people to read, and a warning is usually posted at the beginning of the essay so that those who want to turn and not read may do so. The only way to teach and to let others learn what to avoid is to SHARE what happened with every detail necessary to make the point. Thank you.
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4 Responses to Battle Pirates as a Social Experiment

  1. Mike says:

    I know it seems like bullying and i can definately see your point agree and disagree if you will. I am in an alliance in battle took me alot of time to find one I could relate to and like. Most of these families are not intended to bully or cause hatred. Mine for example its intention is to help anyone who needs it to grow. Yes no insector hitting is one we are very fond of. The reason for the continued pounding of these people is because they have every chance to make it right and don’t. We try to talk to them and get them to stop they do not answer until they get tired of being hit themselves. Most of the time these individuals hit on lower level players, so who is the bully? Every game like this has friends and enemies your friends should be your sector and the enemy should be other sectors (your country there country) would it make you happy to have your neighbor using your base for a farm. Maybe people take it seriously. I know people who play farmville and take that with the same seriousness

    • PeggyAnn says:

      Hey Mike, thanks for the comment. I’m a level 31 now. Now, I’m big enough to be an ‘enforcer’ of the no in sector hitting. LOL. In our sector they are called, “insects” until they wise up. And most do. We moved from sector 275 (my husband and I and some close friends) to sector 264. 264 is for the most part a very peaceful sector, and some people have said ‘weak’. I know I am a weak 31 because in general I didn’t fight to get to that level. I salvage, salvage, salvage, and hit only when I’m good and tired of being hit. lol. My hubby and I just recently joined an alliance (UiP = United in Peace, UiP more recently merged with the Dirties). Needless to say, I identify strongly with the help others, and keep the peace motto. The truth is, I’m not pirate material. LOL, but the more I play the game the more I love it because of the bonds that develop with other players. This sector we are in now is like a huge family. We’ve discovered a few people even live close enough to meet up in real life and share some ‘pirate’ pizza. LOL.

      The people in 275, some of them were very good people. Some of them were very bigoted, and chauvinistic. And the sector ‘lords’ who enforced the rules did not follow the rules they enforced. I follow the rules I enforce. I don’t hit except in retaliation for myself or those who are smaller and being picked on by bigger guys (for example a lvl 23, being picked on by a lvl 28). I guess I’m for the underdog!!

      It all really depends on the folks in the sector and what their idea of a fun game, and if everyone there can work it out so that the game is played to everyone’s satisfaction. If one finds the game unsatisfactory in the sector you are in, move and try else where. We are not the only people who moved to 264, fell in love with the sector and stayed! :0) Peg (SFF_TigerEyes)

  2. Undergruff sector288 says:

    Great artical, Peggy. I have been playing for a long time now (lvl33) and have seen the clan enforcer mentality. Like you say, many have the “no in sector hitting” rule, and have large players enforcing this rule. I have been on both sides of the fence, even hitting bases that are providing “friendly bubbles” to others, because that is not in the spirit of the game.

    Eventually you get to a point of wanting to be hit by anyone that will take on your base. Building a better base is a big part of the game, being hit and seeing your bases faults is a learning experience. As I tell people (I hit in sector, don’t like it, hit me back, you’re most welcome), I can hit 4 bases, and can only be hit back once at a time.

    I agree, and is mostly part of the enjoyment of the game, is the banter on the chats. When told ” we don’t hit in sector here” I ask them who they are to tell me how to enjoy my game, and I will play it how like. I also, if hit by a high clan member, will take out my wrath on lower clan members, if they are part of the group, they can take the heat the clan is generating. If you don’t like the rules Kixeye lays down, go play Farmville

    All in all this goes to show, that you are correct in saying that, BP is a window into peoples minds and maybe it shows what people are like deep down, rather than the masks we see when dealing in different situations. Thanks for an interesting artical.

  3. PeggyAnn says:

    Thanks Undergruff! It’s almost a year to the day since I published this blog. Two weeks short, actually. ha! I’ve just hit level 55, in the new leveling system.
    Part of my participation and playing in this game has been watching myself as the way I play the game evolves. I am, ever the non-hitter. I don’t like to attack “hit” or be “hit”. I find it very relaxing to just salvage, and chat. Though, I will still “hit” back for others sake on occasion.
    The game continues to fascinate me, i.e. watching the “folks” and how they intertwine their morality, and visions of how the game should go. I’ve made some really good friends of the folks there, in 264 it is very much a family like sector which I do like and am quite attached to.
    I’m learning there are a couple different kinds of insects. Nice ones, and not so nice ones. Some who “hit” with politeness (please and thank you, no less!) and some who hit with the foulest mouth. They fail to remember that 13 year olds are allowed in to play too!
    And I’ve learned that insects are far more restless than my ‘type’ of player who like stability even in her ‘game’. They will get bored and move on. I will stay ‘home’ and be happy with my family! ha!

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