One of the unique aspects of the sci-fi massively multiplayer online game EVE Online is that it has a peer-elected council of players that represents the interests of EVE's subscribers to the title's developer CCP Games, working with them to improve the MMO. This select group of EVE Online players is called the Council of Stellar Management (CSM).
No other online game in operation has anything quite like it, but that's because EVE Online is one of the few games where something like this would even work. Given the scope of interactions that happen in EVE's single shard setting of thousands of solar systems where player actions have the potential to affect others in the game, it comes as no surprise that players can take the game very seriously. They form military and political alliances to conquer and hold regions of space. Players even establish financial institutions built upon the game's virtual economy. Any insider knowledge about how the game's New Eden galaxy will change through future development could be valuable. CSM delegates are expressly forbidden from divulging or using insider information for their own advantage, or those of their friends.
However, CCP Games revealed today that exactly such a situation has arisen. Larkonis Trassler, a prominent member of the Council of Stellar Management, used insider information to attempt to profit in the game's virtual InterStellar Kredit (ISK) currency. He has stepped down from his position on the council and his accounts have been banned by CCP for Non-disclosure Agreement violations.
CCP revealed that CSM delegate Larkonis Trassler (real name: Adam Ridgway) "bought items worth 2.5 billion ISK in order to stockpile those items before a game design change would be implemented. Further 2.5 billion was traded in these same items earlier that night based on the same information but through another character. [...] Insider information was used as the basis of this trade and this is not according to the standards that we set for members of the Council of Stellar Management."
CCP Games maintains an Internal Affairs department that investigates player wrongdoing (that is, what is expressly forbidden by the EULA) and allegations of misconduct from the game's developers themselves. That scrutiny extends to members of the Council of Stellar Management as well, as evidenced by today's disclosure.
Given the level of advance knowledge CSM delegates receive about EVE's development, CCP Games feels there must be commensurate accountability for their actions. This is largely why individuals running in the Council of Stellar Management elections are required to provide their real name and other real life information, all of which is verified by CCP Games before they're considered for the CSM candidacy. A CSM delegate's real name thereafter becomes a matter of public record.
Before officially stepping down, Trassler made a statement about his motivations to use his position for personal gain: "Unfortunately no political body is ever going to be without scandal and a bit of bad press. While attending the CSM summit I acted on some information which was revealed for personal profit and, of course, I was caught. Before attending the thought of using any information gained to aid my position in game never crossed my mind. However, we are all human and when presented with this information the urge to act on it was too great."
Larkonis Trassler has been replaced by former CSM member Michele Boland (known as Issler Dainze in-game, who was coincidentally the target of last year's assassination during the game's annual PvP tournament).
The announcement on the official EVE Online website has statements on the matter from the Council of Stellar Management about the breach of trust, from CCP Games about their reasons for taking action, and as mentioned from Larkonis Trassler himself about why he did it. Whether you're an EVE player and want to know what's happened or you're simply curious about how virtual governance functions in a player-driven game, we recommend reading the full disclosures released by all parties involved on the official EVE Online website.