Above: EVE Online's Brisc Rubal, known in real life as Brian Schoeneman, a maritime law lobbyist. Source: YouTube.
EVE Online is usually known for bitter betrayals and catastrophic battles, but that's all guided by the politics of its massive player-driven alliances. And today, EVE Online is having one hell of a political scandal involving a player who is not only an elected politician in EVE Online, but is also a political lobbyist in real life too.
His name is Brian Schoeneman, known in EVE as Brisc Rubal, and he serves on EVE Online's Council of Stellar Management (CSM). Or, he did serve until today when developer CCP Games announced that Brian Schoeneman was now permanently banned for "sharing confidential information with a member of his alliance that was later used by another alliance member to conduct illicit in-game transactions."
In EVE Online, the CSM is a body of elected players who serve as lobbyists for various player factions and work closely with developer CCP Games to provide feedback about the game and weigh in on the design of new features. Just like real politicians, each member of the CSM has to campaign for votes, which Brian Schoeneman started doing back in May of 2018. But unlike most CSM members, Schoeneman has real-life experience to draw from, on which he leaned heavily in his video announcing his election campaign.
Outside of EVE, Schoeneman is a maritime law lobbyist in Virginia, USA. In an interview with Kotaku, Schoeneman said, "I think the largest single thing I can bring to the CSM is that I have been doing what is effectively the CSM’s role for my entire political career. I am constantly going out and lobbying the government and trying to educate them on what my members think is important, and how what the government does affects my industry, all while making sure what we do is good for the country."
But maybe tying his real-life political identity to his in-game one wasn't the smartest idea. Earlier today, CCP Games announced that, effective immediately, Schoeneman was removed from his role in the CSM and permanently banned from the game. Two other unnamed players also received year-long bans, and all the ISK and goods associated with Schoeneman's scheme, which sounds a lot like the EVE Online version of insider trading, has been confiscated.
"This misconduct was brought to us by the CSM themselves as an immediate threat to the integrity of the CSM as an institution," reads CCP Games' statement. "CCP’s stance on this is clear: regardless of the type of information shared, acts like this go against everything that the Council of Stellar Management stands for and will not be tolerated under any circumstances."
Naturally, this has created quite the stir in the EVE community. Schoeneman is a member of The Initiative, a massive and reputable alliance that was first founded in 2008 and boasts over 5,000 players. Not even a month ago, we spoke to Schoeneman as part of a story that involved a top secret plan to destroy a space station widely considered unassailable. Over on the EVE subreddit, the thread about Schoeneman's ban has already reached over 500 comments.
Schoeneman seems confused about that too. Over on his personal Twitter, he issued a statement claiming to "not know" why he was banned from EVE and removed from the CSM. Apparently, CCP Games has not responded to his request for more clarification over the decision and Schoeneman denies any wrong doing.
For those asking, I do not know why I was banned from EVE and removed from the CSM. I have asked for clarification and have received none. I categorically deny any wrongdoing and look forward to clearing my name and having my reputation restored. #tweetfleetApril 8, 2019
I reached out to Schoeneman who declined to comment "until such time as I am apprised of what the actual allegations are."
Without any evidence to look at, it's Schoeneman's word against CCP Games'. But, knowing the ingenious nature of EVE's players, I wouldn't necessarily rule out that this could all be a part of some elaborate plot by a rival faction. After all, EVE Online is known for devastating schemes that ruin the in-game lives of famous players. Or Schoeneman could simply be trying to save face. I will update this story with more details when (and if) they are revealed.