The head on the body connected to the hands behind the Dire thinks slowly. He’ll ponder and write a little then ponder and revisit and write a little more.

A few days back in Swindles I hammered on some fellow named Bill for whipping a false equivalency out of his pocket. Paraphrasing Bill, “Eve characters are controlled by real people meaning when you lie in Eve you’re not lying to a character, you’re lying to a human being meaning as you act in Eve, so you are in real life.”

False equivalencies typically arise by assuming that a shared trait between two subjects reveals equivalence. “Being both soft, cuddly pets, there’s no difference between kittens and puppies.” Bill’s version is similar, “Being that you’re lying to a human, there’s no difference between lying in Eve and lying for real life career promotion.”

False equivalencies aggravate me. In the kitten/puppy case it makes me want to handover a Rottweiler puppy saying, “Here, enjoy your new kitten” and wait for mayhem to ensue.  In Bill’s case it drove me to call on Saint Peter himself to help Bill disentangle the difference between games and real life. Now mind you I’m not claiming that games aren’t important. They can be terribly important. They certainly are to me. But losing track of the differences between games and other areas of real life (i.e. erasing context) can lead one down terrible paths like taking games too seriously or not taking real life seriously enough.

So context matters and it is in context that I kept chewing on Bill’s comment. I never felt my first exploration of his comment was spot on and upon review, I discovered a false equivalency of my own. How embarrassing.  Quoting Swindles, “’you’re not lying to a character. You’re lying to a human being’ [explains Bill]. True [I comment], though I would add that you’re deceiving a human being playing a video game. A video game that incorporates deception.” Did you see it? I switched from Bill’s ‘lying’ to my ‘deception’ and tough similar, they aren’t precisely equivalent. Lying, especially as Bill is using the term, is a speech act, a purposely false statement. Deception is much broader including not only speech act lies but also things like leopard spot camouflage and North American coral snake mimicry (Red touches yellow, kills a fellow. Red touches black, venom lack).

What would lead me to shift from ‘lying’ to ‘deception’? In hindsight, I can see that one reason was to drain Bill’s language of moral heft. While defending lying is burdensome, being indifferent about common place deceit is rather easy. “Gee Bill, you don’t get upset about leopard spots, king snake scales or bait procurers, why do titan swindles have you in such a twist?” Like all false equivalencies, it’s a trap putting Bill in the position of either having to take moral umbrage at leopard fur (which would be foolish) or admit that titan swindles aren’t really that big a deal (which he doesn’t want to do).

So I wasn’t treating Bill entirely fairly. Bait procurers utilize in game mechanics. Titan swindles like the one Bill commented on utilize out of game human to human speech acts. They’re not identical. There is a difference. A difference even I can see. But . . . and here’s the question, does lack of similarity make speech act lying any less a part of the game? If yes, then Bill’s moral umbrage is justified. If no, then Bill makes an empty distinction.

Feels empty distinction to me.

I accept that there are aspects of Eve that don’t appeal to Bill. It’s a big game. Not all of it appeals to me either. What I don’t accept is the casual ease Bill displays dismissing large swaths of the game because those portions, for whatever reason, don’t appeal to him. I’m trying to give you a fair shake here Bill, I truly am, but you make it difficult. You truly do.

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