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Eve Online developer bans real-world politician from in-game office

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Brian Schoeneman, also known in-game as Brisc Rubal, denies any wrongdoing

Brian Schoeneman screencap from Brisc Rubal YouTube video
A campaign video for Brian Shoeneman, also known as Brisc Rubal in Eve Online.
Brian Shoeneman via YouTube

A veteran Eve Online player who ran for a seat on the game’s officially recognized representative council — and won, based in part on his own real-world political career in Washington — has been removed from that position and permanently banned from the game. Developer CCP Games announced the move on Monday, saying that it had received evidence he breached a non-disclosure agreement.

Eve is the famously complex spacefaring game launched in 2003. The massively multiplayer game is unique for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it maintains its own democratically elected council, a volunteer group of players who “advise and assist” the game’s developers on behalf of its global community. Called the Council of Stellar Management, or CSM, members are elected to a one-year term, and charged with hashing out some of the game’s biggest issues behind closed doors.

Brisc Rubal made headlines last year when he decided to run for a seat on the CSM. Not because of his platform, but because of his real-world identity. Rubal is the online persona of Brian Schoeneman, a lawyer and a professional lobbyist for the United States’ largest maritime workers union. He has also run for public office multiple times as a Republican. It’s this lifetime of experience in politics that Schoeneman leveraged in an elaborate CSM campaign video, shot on location in our nation’s capital. In June 2018 he won, earning a seat alongside nine other player representatives.

Once in place, Schoeneman was bound by a non-disclosure agreement. In a statement issued Monday, CCP Games says he broke that agreement.

The Icelandic developer alleges that Schoeneman was caught “sharing confidential information with a member of his [in-game] alliance that was later used by another alliance member to conduct illicit in-game transactions.” The incident was severe enough that other elected members of the CSM came together to turn him in.

“This misconduct was brought to us by the CSM themselves,” CCP said, “as an immediate threat to the integrity of the CSM as an institution.”

As a result, Schoeneman’s in-game accounts have been permanently banned. All in-game assets and currency have been confiscated. Two other players who were involved have also received a one-year ban.

Reached for comment, CCP declined to discuss the issue further.

“For privacy reasons, CCP does not engage discussion regarding action taken against a player’s game accounts,” a spokesperson told Polygon. “In this instance, given that the player in question was a member of the Council of Stellar Management, it is in the interests of the wider community that we confirm action was taken.”

“I categorically deny any wrongdoing,” Schoeneman said in a statement on Twitter, “and look forward to clearing my name and having my reputation restored.”

On Reddit, Schoeneman went further, calling out CCP for a lack of transparency and communication about its actions. Furthermore, he doubled down on his background in politics, putting forth what he says is his sterling record of public service.

“As an attorney and a public figure in the United States, my ethics and reputation are regulated by a code of professional responsibility and statutory law, unlike CCP’s opaque community team,” Schoeneman said. “As a licensed attorney for nearly a decade, I have never had a complaint filed against me. I have served in positions of public trust in the United States Government and have never had a complaint filed against me. The claims that I would risk my reputation by providing proprietary or otherwise confidential information to members of my own alliance for personal gain are false.

“These baseless charges have had an immediate and negative impact on not only my in-game reputation but my out of game reputation. I have spent the last year working hard on behalf of the community that elected me to represent their interests to CCP. I have done so diligently, attending more than 95% of all of the meetings and conference calls that have taken place. There is no reason why I would jeopardize all of that by violating my word, putting my reputation on the line, and risking all of this to provide a fellow player with an unfair advantage in the game.”

Schoeneman said he would fight the allegations “and seek all avenues of recourse available to me.”

Polygon has reached out to Schoeneman for comment. His term was set to expire in June, and a CCP representative said he would not be replaced before the next round of elections.

Update (April 29): CCP Games has retracted its accusations and issued a formal apology, which Schoeneman has accepted. Rather than complete his term on the CSM, he instead issued his resignation.