Last week we reported on an effort by several players of Elite: Dangerous to dupe new players into a sort of indentured servitude by offering them mining ships, training, and credits, but effectively taking them to an inescapable region of space and forcing them to mine materials to sell at prices that were well below market value.
At the time this story was headlined as “indentured servitude,” but after watching this new interview with one of these racketeers from YouTuber The Pilot, we’re pretty confident in calling a spade a spade: This was essentially slave labor.
The interview was with a CMDR who calls himself LatexRoach, who claimed that the group he’s part of, the 7th Labor Division (7LD, which for all intents and purposes is part of the 7th Space Division group, 7SD), had gotten tired of training new players and sinking time and credits into their development only to see them leave. That frustration led them to figure out how to “take new people and efficiently train them to be useful to [the] group,” according to LatexRoach.
“What we did was, we designed a recruitment/training method that not only benefited the new players but also benefited us. […] Full disclosure; we definitely take most of the profits. I’m not going to lie, we definitely take, like, 80 to 90% of the mining profits. When they hit 200 mil — by that time they have a Python and a Type-9 — that’s when we tell them what’s going on and we give them the option to stay mining or switch over to 7SD and join us doing regular E:D stuff. We’ve actually had quite a few people who are fiercely loyal to us now.”
The interview goes on to outline the group’s recruitment steps: LatexRoach admitted that the group made sure they targeted new players who “don’t know anything” and ensured they were engaged with the group to “keep them away from dumb information” – which presumably includes the information that would engender escape. Furthermore, the LatexRoach claims that the traffic created by the group’s Fleet Carrier meant that any of the players could “hitch a ride back to the Bubble,” though LatexRoach admitted that his crew withheld game info to keep these new arrivals working “as long as possible.”
LatexRoach claims his team’s behavior made the group feel bad, but he also said that he feels that those ensnared by the racket are better off. The Pilot countered, pointing out that the group had previously crowed that it would double down and not feel bad, which led LatexRoach to confess, laughing, that it was he who’d said that.
“I mean, it’s like, I go back and forth like anything. Sometimes, it’s hilarious because we love what we do, then there are some guys right now that are still mining, and that’s all they’re gonna do, and I guess that’s where I start to get like ‘Oh man, this poor guy’s gonna stay here forever.’ Besides that, it’s mostly giggles, we have a good time with it. We’re definitely doubling down, for sure.”
The Pilot then turned to screenshotted accusations that a player attempted to join 7LD’s Discord and was met with a “slew of racist comments and harassment,” which led The Pilot to ask what sort of organization the group is building. LatexRoach’s response? “A cult-like one. Full of chaos and evil. […] We like to play the bad guy.” LatexRoach did say that Discord itself put 7LD on notice such that all instances of racism on the channel were cleaned out and are now supposedly condemned.
So what’s Frontier doing about all this? According to LatexRoach, Frontier reached out to the group to confirm that it is not breaking any of the game’s rules and allow it to demonstrate that 7LD is not based on a Nazi Panzer division. LatexRoach did not provide the name of the Frontier contact, however, and it’s worth noting that Frontier already made a public statement that doesn’t exactly put 7LD in the clear:
“We do not condone the behaviour of these rogue Commanders however we have been delighted by the stalwart efforts of community groups, such as the Fuel Rats and Hull Seals squadrons, to bring those Commanders affected to safety — an effort supported by our own community team.
“We continue to monitor both the situation and in game communications and will not hesitate to act if players are found to have breached our community guidelines in any way.”
Ultimately, LatexRoach tried to describe the racket as “severe capitalism,” which was challenged by The Pilot, who argued that exploiting new players and not giving them the opportunity to leave is the very definition of slavery. At that point, LatexRoach gave up the fight: “If the shoe fits, wear it; they’re slaves, we’re slavers, whatever.” He even admitted that a couple of the group’s fleet carriers are named after historical slaver ships.
It’s an hour’s worth of MMO assholery and The Pilot’s face twitching in disbelief, and it’s embedded below.