This is a collection of short in-character fiction pieces about Awakened Industries, a group of capsuleers and their crews living in the enigmatic and dangerous regions of Wormhole Space in EVE Online. None of the protagonists are actual characters or corporations in-game. All similarities with persons fictional or real are possibly coincidental and only sometimes intentional. - Emergent Patroller

For an introduction to this blog refer to this link. You may also want to check out the guide for new readers

: The stories on this blog contain mature themes involving sexuality and violence and are not suitable for minors or sensitive people.

13 Apr 2012

Blog Banter 35 - Through the Lens of Past Experience

I have criminaly neglected my poor story blog, and I really need to get back into things, so as a first step I decided to participate in this month's Blog Banter:

So here is what we are going to discuss:

Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community. 

Is this perception deserved? Should "The Nation of EVE" be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?

[Unrelated and random bonus question sponsored by EVE News 24: What single button would you recommend be included on an EVE-specific keyboard?]

I am going to approach this issue from a personal historic perspective. It may seem like I'm getting beside the point, but bear with me while I tell you a little story.

The past

Back in the 1990s I was playing online multi-user games in text based form.
There was no complex AI driven PVE content, so everything that happened in the game did so because some players made it happen. Sometimes GMs would run live events too, but that was the exception. Virtually all of the game was PvP or at least player interaction.

Over the years, I played on two different Shadowrun MUSHes. In this dystopian cyberpunk-fantasy gaming universe, almost everyone played some sort of professional criminal or operative, living on the dangerous edge of an unforgiving society ruled by ruthless corporations. 

If you got killed, you were really dead. End of story. No clone, no magical resurrection. You had to start over with a new character. You did get to start your new character with as many skillpoints as your old character had at the time of death, though.

The only mitigating factor was, that there had to be some RP based in-character reason why you were killed. If you had the impression, that your death was just arbitrary griefing, you could petition with a GM and maybe get it retroactively undone, but due to the harsh game universe, there were usually plenty of justifications to kill someone. People betrayed, scammed, robbed and killed eachother for all kinds of perfectly viable role-playing reasons.

How do you get by in such an environment? You act cautiously. You find creative solutions for difficult problems. You try to make friends and build relations of trust. Everything you did in every interaction would have consequences for yourself and the people you were involving yourself with. You had to really invest thought and consideration into your actions, and that made it exciting and meaningful.

Does all that sound familiar already?

The present

Many gamers these days seem to approach their hobby with a strange sense of entitlement. Everything has to be easy and consensual. Any real danger for your character or your style of play is an unwanted factor.

This is why I never got into any online game except EVE.When I first heard about it, an old RPG friend of mine told me that there was a game which was almost as dangerous and rewarding as the online games of old, and that made me decide to try it.

So if you read this far, you will sit there with the question: How does all of this relate to the Blog Banter subject?

Allright, EVE has a certain reputation. This reputation will attract some and wont attract others. Like the people who played on the old Shadowrun MUSHes, the people attracted will be those who are looking for a gaming experience that means something (to the extent that such a thing can exist).

Sure, some things could be better. When I read some of the horrible stuff people post on forums, I sometimes can only shake my head at the incredibly immature pseudo-macho-culture (after all real machos would get into real fights instead of posting stuff online), but that's in no way different from every other forum on the internet which is for a large part frequented by men with arrested development.

As for the rest I think EVE is doing fine in terms of public representation. There are great examples of wonderful creative output, community spirit, helpful content and more.(*) Some people will never opt for that style if gaming, but that's fine, because an ever increasing number of people do.

Is there a problem for CCP? Well they seem to be making money consistently, and that during a time which saw the collapse of the Icelandic financial sector and a global economic downturn. Any real problem CCP had was related to their interaction with the player base rather than the public image of EVE.

Has the recent Mittani incident tarnished the public image of EVE? I don't think so. After all, the man's apology was as public as his drunken mistake, and how often have you read about a player publicly apologizing for something he did wrong in a game-related context. If anything, it shows that the real people behind all this grief play and scamming are probably not so bad after all.

And the final question: Will the DUST415 community engage with this environment? Well I can not answer that, because I know nothing about FPS communities. One thing I do know is, EVE players will flock to DUST415 in significant numbers, and the spirit of gaming that makes EVE the most intriguing environment of the modern online game world will "infect" DUST425 no matter what.

My answer to the Bonus Question: Lock Target. The most fundamental function of them all.

(*) My selection of links was not meant to say that those are the only good ones. Voices from the Void, Fly Reckless, Notalotofnews, Podgoo, Roc Wieler, Kirith Kodachi, Ripard Teg, Tiger Ears, Pixxie Twilight and all the others out there I didn't name here. You are all great, and you deserve just as much credit. I just didn't want to start a link list.

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