Real-Life Politician Removed From In-Game Office In EVE Online [UPDATE: Accusations Dropped]

Yesterday, EVE Online player Brisc Rubal was permanently banned from the game and removed from the Council of Stellar Management, the game’s player-elected representative body. Outside of EVE, Rubal’s real name is Brian Schoeneman, and he’s a lawyer and a career politician, working as a lobbyist in the state of Virginia.

A developer blog released by CCP Games on Monday claims that Rubal was “found to be sharing confidential information with a member of his alliance that was later used by another alliance member to conduct illicit in-game transactions.” The Council of Stellar Management, or CSM, participates in closed door discussions with EVE’s developers that operate under a non-disclosure agreement. The blog states that a member of the CSM approached CCP with evidence of the prohibited communications, which, after reviewing, forced them to take action. These actions included not only banning all of Rubal’s accounts, but the accounts of two other players who allegedly received confidential information from him and used it to further their own in-game goals.

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[Update April 25, 11:44 am— CCP has exonerated Rubal of all accusations, including that he broke the non-disclosure agreement between him and CCP. Rubal and the other two implicated players will have their accounts reinstated and their in-game assets returned. Rubal will resign from the CSM and not run for re-election.

In a statement, Senior Communications Manager CCP Grendel formally apologized to Rubal, writing, “After reviewing our assessment of the information on which these allegations were based and having spoken repeatedly with everyone involved, it’s now clear that our initial actions were based on unsubstantiated assumptions.” CCP also provided the following statement to Kotaku:

Following the conclusion of CCP’s investigation, and the reversal of actions taken against him on April 8th, both CCP Games and Brian Schoeneman are satisfied with the final resolution of the incident as described below and in CCP’s full statement on the matter.

CCP Games apologizes to all involved parties and retracts the allegations, having confirmed upon further investigation that all information provided leading to the initial action declaring wrongdoing was unsubstantiated. CCP Games will be providing reparations, including the reinstatement of Schoeneman’s Brisc Rubal game accounts in EVE Online and rescinding the one-year bans placed upon the other two players.

Brian Schoeneman has accepted CCP Games’ apology. Schoeneman understands that while CCP’s response was in error, it was not conducted with prejudice or intent to harm, and Schoeneman holds no ill-will or residual acrimony against CCP.

Regarding Schoeneman’s status on the CSM, given the small amount of time left in CSM XIII, Schoeneman has chosen to resign from the CSM, and does not intend to run for CSM XIV. He is welcome to run for future CSMs, if he so chooses. CCP would like to thank him for his service and his contributions to EVE Online.

Due to the nature of the incident and the significant press coverage it has garnered, both parties wish this to be the final official word on this matter. No further statements will be made by either CCP Games or Brian Schoeneman on the resolution of the incident.]

Brisc Rubal’s in-game persona as a CSM
Image: Brisc Rubal

Following his ban, Rubal released a statement via Reddit denying that he had broken the NDA in any way, writing, “I am innocent of these allegations. I have not, and would not, violate the NDA I signed after being elected to the CSM. I have not provided any proprietary information furnished by CCP to me as a CSM member to anyone.”

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During his campaign for CSM, Rubal shared that he was a politician by day and an EVE player by night. In an interview with Kotaku as well as a YouTube video, Rubal referenced his political past as part of his qualifications for CSM. In his Reddit statement, Rubal wrote,

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. 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.

Rubal’s campaign video for CSM

According to Rubal’s statement, “I contacted CCP Dopamine and CCP Falcon to request information about the ban. As of the time of this writing, I have received no response from any one at CCP in response to my repeated inquiries...I will fight these false allegations, restore my reputation and seek all avenues for recourse available to me for these reckless actions.”

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Rubal asked CCP to reconsider the punishments handed down to his two in-game associates, writing, “Their bans are wrong, and a travesty. [...] They do not deserve to be banned from the game, even for a year, and I strongly urge CCP to reverse these bans - not only for the sake of those two players but for all of the players who rely upon them.” The players in question, Pandoralica and Dark Shines, were banned for one year for allegedly acting upon the confidential information said to be given to them by Rubal, as well as having assets and currency on their accounts repossessed or destroyed.

Pandoralica and Dark Shines are high-level members of the Initiative alliance, serving in leadership roles and leading Initiative fleets in the game. Recently, Pandoralica famously led the effort to assault and destroy what was considered to be a nearly invulnerable fortress belonging to another player alliance. The loss of these two players will inevitably cause harm to the Initiative’s in-game plans, and potentially the alliance’s future.

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Due to the nature of the accusations and the confidential material at their heart, players may never hear the full story. How Rubal will fight the ban and how CCP will respond remains to be seen. In the developer blog, CCP stated that it will be focusing on more education for players elected to the CSM, and take extra time to ensure that all participants are fully aware of the “do’s and don’ts” when operating under an NDA. For the duration of the current iteration of the CSM, the council will remain a member short. Elections for next year’s council are looming and are expected to begin soon, with details beginning to be released next week, according to the developer blog.

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