At EVE Online's recent FanFest gathering, a panel got real unsavoury real fast when senior EVE players began not only mocking another player displaying suicidal tendencies, but encouraged others to do the same.
During a panel last Thursday, one moderated by a CCP employee (the developers of the game), a presentation/Q&A gets awkward when a few members up on stage can be seen to go after an individual player.
When "one of the players clearly indicated suicidal thoughts and showed 'obvious' signs of severe depression", instead of shutting the panel down and/or looking to get them some help, things got a whole lot worse.
"When this communication was shown to the audience the presenter, along with part of the audience of players and CCP representatives present all had a good laugh," another player present, and writing to Eurogamer, reports. "The presenter went on to encourage other players of Eve Online to harass this player in the hope that he would eventually be compelled to act on his suicidal thoughts."
"This player's in-game contact information was provided. I found this section of the presentation to be in extremely poor taste."
Oh dear. Regardless of whether the player in question really was suicidal or not isn't the point. Those involved couldn't have known that, so to attack them ran the risk of causing some very serious ramifications.
To its credit, CCP acted swiftly to condemn the actions of its players, issuing a statement that reads:
I want to reassure you that CCP in no way condones the harassment of players, especially those who suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts, as we understand the possible consequences of such abhorrent behaviour.
Our Terms of Service (TOS), which can be found here, mirror our company's stance on this matter.
While the content of online interactions between players cannot realistically be gated within our game worlds, we do take very seriously accusations of such behaviour between our players.
Furthermore, we have a suicide hotline protocol which has, in specific cases, made a difference for several unfortunately troubled players. We appreciate you voicing your concerns on this level, and CCP will be very vigilant in monitoring any behaviour directed towards the individual named in the presentation.
We are undertaking a full internal review of this panel as well as the process used for vetting the panel's materials. Even though this panel was billed as unfiltered by CCP, we expect public presentations to be courteous and professional towards others.
UPDATE: One of the panel members involved has written a heartfelt and very nice apology over on EVE's forums.
UPDATE 2: Here's some video footage of the panel.