When losing hurts in athletics and competitive events, the losers tend
to either rationalize their defeat or give themselves little awards for
showing "the best sportsmanship." In the Mittani's fourth Ten Ton
Hammer commentary, he writes about how this concept has exploded into
what he calls "space bushido" in EVE
While it may sound like a honorable notion, the Mittani shows that
being underhanded - using espionage to get ahead - in EVE Online is an
absolute necessity in the PvP space.
At its core, e-honor is a social construction that only benefits the loser. The winner has already won, through whatever means; the loser has lost substantial assets, and so is compelled to conceive of a number of face-saving rationalizations. What space bushido provides the loser is a way to cope with their loss: "Sure, I lost, but they ganked me/used a login trap/violated a 1v1, so they have no honor." Another oft-encountered saying is that a lost ship has no value, but a pilot's honor is priceless.