There’s lots of excitement about the upcoming EVE Vegas event. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the event or watch the live stream, so I will have to rely on other blogs to get my coverage fix. One day, I would like to attend a Fanfest or other similar player gathering. The dynamic of the player community of EVE interests me. So, with that in mind, and in anticipation of EVE Vegas, I thought I’d write a blog post about the topic of the player community.
Those Crazy Players
EVE players are a paradoxical bunch. On the one hand, as any gaming site or bitternewb is quick to tell you, EVE is full of rapacious, soulless monsters who will curbstomp your face as they eat your cookie. Stories abound of the scams, controversies, and just general all-around awfulness of those who call New Eden home. Search Cracked for EVE Online and you’ll get a general idea.
When EVE makes the news on gaming sites, or even occasionally in mainstream media, if it’s not because of some big battle, it’s because of some spectacularly horrible scam, betrayal, low-down dirty deed or other shenanigans a player has pulled off. And CCP tends to publicize these as examples of EVE’s emergent gameplay (or at most shake their head and shrug). Which I get. I love reading about that stuff. So there’s a certain perception of the player base from outside the game that EVE players are a bunch of sociopaths.
And the first lessons you learn in the game tend to reinforce the image. The first rule of EVE may be “don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose,” but the second and arguably more important rule is “trust no one.”
On the other hand, it doesn’t take long playing EVE before you see the other side of the coin, whether it’s your utterly normal corp mates (except for that one guy) or coming across initiatives like Sindel’s Angel Project or Rixx Javix’s purchase of Major JSilva’s main in case he wants it back one day (or for that matter, the many player donations to his bid for the character).
That Crazy Community
I wonder if it’s the nature of the game itself that helps develop such a vibrant player base. The single-shard universe of EVE means that when you read about some big battle or scam, or you read about some famous player, you’re reading about stuff that happens in your game. It’s possible for you to undock and get in a fight with the same famous player you read about the day before. You can find yourself embroiled in the very battle or scam or other player event that ends up making the rounds on the gaming news sites.
I’m not saying that’s why people play, but it’s one of the things that makes EVE and, by extension, its players, special. Ultimately, everyone is part of the same player community. Let’s not forget the impressive things the community can get up to when it decides to unite. Riots, anyone? And even though the relationship between CCP and its players can get rocky occasionally, I don’t think I’m overstating by saying that the company values the game’s player community. I mean, they put up a monument and everything.
The EVE Universe Monument was unveiled as part of Fanfest 2014. CCP’s party at the top of the world has been an annual event since 2004, when it was a very intimate affair of only a few dozen people. I can’t help but wonder about those first attendees. It’s one thing to attend a recent Fanfest with over a thousand players, but can you imagine being one of maybe 40 or or 50 people to fly to Iceland back in ’04?
Those Crazy Events
It’s stories from Fanfest and related events that I think present the greatest contradiction to the public perception of the average EVE gamer. Sure, you have your occasional controversies where somebody’s a dick after a few drinks, but most of what you hear is just stories of enthusiastic players having a great time hanging out with other people who understand their love of the game.
It’s not uncommon to hear people say that they don’t mention that they play EVE to most of their acquaintances. Which is understandable. Even though in the last decade gaming has gone more mainstream, a lot of people still don’t get it. And even among other gamers, EVE is still a niche game.
But you hit up Fanfest or an event like EVE Vegas and you’re surrounded by people who get it. It’s the same reason people love any convention, I suppose, but in our case, it comes back to the fact that everybody you meet at one of those events is a player in your game. As I understand it, plenty of diplomacy between in-game entities takes place at events like Fanfest. I suppose it’s the ultimate networking opportunity.
But that’s not really what it’s about. It’s about coming together and sharing this particular obsession of ours with other players who love it just as much. Even mortal enemies in-game have been known to kick back and share a brew together.
So, have fun at Vegas, boys and girls. I’m sure it’ll be a blast. I’m envious. Fly safe, travelers.