The Mystere incident was an EverQuest controversy revolving around a virtual player named "Mystere", banned from the game by Verant, (EverQuest's developer) over a controversial role-playing story. Mystere, a male player on the Brell Serilis server who roleplayed and posted both as the female dark elf "Mystere" and, less frequently, a male Iksar character "Vhasst", wrote a fan fiction story which depicted the rape of a dark elf girl of "barely 14 seasons". This story was posted under the name "Vhasst" on July 11, 2000 to third-party Brell Serilis server boards not affiliated with Verant or Sony.
At some point afterwards, an anonymous party contacted Verant complaining about Mystere's story. On October 4, 2000, Mystere was abruptly kicked out of EverQuest, and the story was soon after removed from the IGN message board where it was originally posted. Upon contacting Verant, George Scotto, head of customer service, informed him that he had been banned. According to Mystere:
|“||He told me that I had been banned for a very disturbing story I had written. I was further told that Sony 'didn't want my kind of people' playing their game. After attempting to defend myself by saying that it was a roleplay story only, and wasn't even posted on their boards, I was informed that the council had made their decision and it was immutable.||”|
This incident was discussed in two GameSpot articles under News and Features about the EverQuest: The Ruins of Kunark expansion. The first, on October 6, 2000, was a mention of the incident and the stir it had caused in the EverQuest gaming community. The second, on October 10, 2000, being a Q&A with Sony / Verant's John Smedley to get the publisher's perspective on what had occurred.
The incident also led to the removal of a quest in the game which requires the player to murder a pregnant halfling (due to criticism that the quest was as violent as anything in Mystere's story), became the subject of academic papers, and inspired a Penny Arcade cartoon as well as a week-long story arc in the PvP webcomic.
Some years later, on February 16, 2006, John Smedley brought up the incident again on his blog. In his post, he claims that Verant took the heat silently over the debacle because the full story could not be disclosed to the public, and involved allegations of criminal behavior:
|“||...we couldn’t tell the real story, which involved one player accusing this banned player of something that, if true, would have crossed major real-life moral and legal lines. I personally spoke with the person accused and there was enough that made me uncomfortable to decide the right thing to do was to keep this person out of our games altogether. The "fan fiction" story this player wrote certainly was a part of this decision, particularly when combined with the accusation made in-game...||”|
- Gamegirladvance.com[dead link]
- Google cache: "Player, Pirate or Conducer? A Consideration of the Rights of Online Gamers"[dead link]
- "An Official Accident". Penny Arcade!. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
- "Archive " Mon Oct 09". PvPonline. 2011-01-12. Retrieved 2013-10-03.
- "Virtual Jail". Stationblog.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
- Taylor, T.L. (2002). Whose game is this anyway? Negotiating corporate ownership in a virtual world. Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings, Ed. Frans Mayra, Tampere University Press (2002), pp. 227-242.
- planetcrap.com, "EverQuest player banned over 'child porn' claim", October 5, 2000 (The original story which caused the controversy is reproduced at this link, in post #64 by "IlIIllllI1")
- Smart Computing, "Living in a Fantasy World", May 2001, p.196-199
- John Smedley's blog, Feb. 16, 2006