Why you should take EVE stories with a grain of salt.
“HOSTILE BS ENGAGED, CALL YOUR POINTS AND BURN FOR BUMPS!”
“FC, Local’s spiking!”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP AND PRIMARY THAT RAVEN!”
I frantically try to get there in time, burning all my ships energy in the process. I’m flying through a fray of what must be at least 100 ships, with more jumping into the system every second. I might die just trying to tackle this one ship, but I will have done my duty. In this epic battle for space supremacy, we would be victorious this day.
Sounds a little exciting, doesn’t it? This is just one of many scenarios from the Epic Spreadsheet Experience of EVE Online. Not the largest MMO around, but one of the most consistently successful in the business. It’s a game crafted around that need to waste time, with a gigantic game world (or should I say galaxy?) and skills that can take up to a week to train. Many players get drawn in to playing EVE by reading about the exciting experiences within, through the GoonSwarm corporation, or one of the many youtube channels dedicated to showing just how amazing EVE can be.
And the crowd goes wild.
Make no mistake, epic space battles do happen in EVE, but they do not happen often. At least, they don’t happen to you often.
EVE may be somewhat unusual in comparison to typical MMOs, with spying and corporate espionage being actively encouraged by the game’s developers, CCP Games, but the pitfalls of the genre will be all too familiar for some. Grinding, an elitist community, long, boring travel times, a game world devoid of detail. While there is an extensive propaganda machine within the EVE (they literally call it propaganda) community, exciting stories seem to be somewhat of a commodity. World of Warcraft pulls in millions of subscribers, EVE only maintains roughly 350000 accounts, nearly 50000 of those being trial accounts. It seems that not only the developers participate in advertising for EVE, with the community doing all it can to draw in new players. It may not be unique, with word of mouth being a significant part of advertising for any product, but EVE’s is significantly more sophisticated than your typical “This game is pretty good!” endorsement.
Unfortunately, all too often, people find it’s nothing more than a giant time sink with an unforgiving rule set and steep learning curve. Even if they do somehow come to grips with the interface, most give up from boredom anyway.
Personally, I think one of the greatest failings of EVE is in its setting. Space is such an alien and fascinating setting, with the bizarre and beautiful, the powerful and dangerous. Yet EVE is devoid of any real detail. The one place left for man to explore is space, yet the concept of exploring in EVE is synonymous with boredom. My own personal experience with EVE was filled with disappointing realisations that it wasn’t space, not really, just black voids with a lightbulb in the middle of the area. The only dangerous things in EVE are NPC enemies affectionately referred to as “rats” and other players.
To get some perspective on the matter, I spoke to a high ranking mentor of an alliance with a major presence in 0.0 security space. He preferred not to be named.
Would you say there is a conscious effort among EVE players to create a sense of a vivid and engaging experience?
Eve is at its heart an economics simulator, it’s pretty damn boring and without the social dynamics that come from throwing half a million people into a small space with limited resources, it would continue to be boring.
Have you participated in any propaganda schemes focusing on recruiting new players?
No, my group is already of a large enough size and part of such a large alliance that people asking to join is not an issue, but one thing we really look for is people who has never played eve before then building them up.
0.0 Recruitment is usually by reference- spying is a major part of eve and recruiting complete unknowns is a risk, people without references can join but they will do so as an Empire member which has an environment geared towards newer players.
Do you find that, in spite of the engaging stories about EVE, that the game can be boring?
One of our directors once described that Eve is an hour for sheer borden followed by five minuets of pure excitement and adrenaline rush – her husband in channel stated that he went on a date like that once. There is a reason we have a browser built into the client, the game can get very boring if you play alone, the social dynamic keeps things interesting during boring times.
Do you think the somewhat cutthroat and unforgiving community can stop new players from carving their own niche in the community?
No, but new players should keep in mind that Eve is a game of months rather than minutes, it’s persistent and ongoing. Patience is key, people looking to get rich quick often get taken advantage of.
And you can never stand alone in Eve, power is not just based on economic prosperity or strategic position, you can never have enough friends.
Why do you think EVE’s propaganda is so much more sophisticated than regular MMOs?
Keep in mind that the average age of the eve player is around 38- the CEO of my corp just turned 60 and at the Sydney pissups there are only two people under 30, myself included. The older age means you’ve got a lot of people with experience in their RL professions; so when you get somebody who has spent the last decade in Radio or TV, that applies their skills to Eve, you are going to see some good stuff.
Propaganda in Eve usually aims to entertain- however, while the humour is the main point, many pieces use sophisticated techniques in order to convince pilots to support or appose a particular cause or alliance.
Is it effective? I don’t know, I tend to live in a very insular environment and only ever visit forums related to the game when bored or if something big happens. However, I would not dismiss it. Does it effect recruitment? Of course.