So last weekend, De asked me what it is that I get out of EVE; what the payoff is for me.
She definitely wasn’t looking to be sold on the game, because she knows herself well enough to know that there’s really no way she’s going to be sold on the game. Hell, I know that much.
So she was very specifically looking for some kind of insight into why I seem to be enjoying the game so much. On the one hand, I’m a gamer right down at my very core — I just like games, especially certain kinds of games — so looked at from that point of view, it’s hardly remarkable that I’m into a game. For that matter, given my personality, it’s not even that remarkable that I’m obsessing a bit about it.
However, I play a lot of games, and I don’t write about all of em.
Sure, I do actual play reports on table top RPGs I play, but those tend to be unique, non-repeatable situations — I don’t write about sessions of Castle Ravenloft, or Bang, or Jungle Speed, because while those are fun experiences, they are repeatable, commonly-held experiences that will not vary tremendously from anyone else’s sessions of the same games. When it comes to a game like that, I can pretty much say “we played Shadows Over Camelot and liked it“, and everyone who’s played SoC will nod and know pretty much exactly the sort of experience we had at the table.
The same can be said about a lot of the MMOs that I play. If I’m writing something about Wizard 101, I can pretty much say “We went to Marleybone and did the whole questline series there”, and everyone who’s played Wizard 101 will nod and know pretty much exactly the sort of experience we had. If I write at length about Wizard 101, it will be about the singular and special experience of playing an MMO with my daughter for the first time, and how much fun that is for me, because (a) that’s the really awesome part and (b) it’s the part that’s different from everyone else’s experience.
Ditto for Lord of the Rings — much as I love the game (and I do, truly, love that game), the gameplay itself will be close to the the same for me as it is for anyone else. I can say “I ran all the quests in Evendim this weekend”, and that’s a Known Thing. In that case, the only real difference is the people I play with and the socialization — it’s multiplayer for a reason, after all: that’s the GOOD part.
So then there’s EVE, which I’m not playing with my daughter or with a really large group of awesome folks (like LotRO). I’m often doing stuff online by myself, or with just one or two other guys.
So why write about it?
Put simply it’s because in EVE, as in those table top RPG sessions from which I do recount individual events (Burning Wheel, Diaspora, or whatever), the actual day-to-day stuff that happens in EVE is singular and personal. There are 30 or 40 or 50 thousand people on at any given time on the single live server, and yet I know beyond any doubt that no one is doing exactly what I am doing; the experience itself — my experience — is wholly unique.
And somehow, I feel that when I’m playing, and it gets me excited about the game. Further, it makes me want to, if not tell people about it, then at least record it.
It’s possible that I’m imagining this sense of having a unique, personal experience, but I don’t think I am. I’m getting a lot of feedback on the posts of writing, both from people who don’t (and probably never will) play EVE, and from players with characters who’ve been around since 2003, and that feedback is largely very positive and (I think this is telling) with the veteran playerbase, it gets people excited about playing the game.
I’m a fairly old character, just getting back from a break. I’ve done just about everything in EVE: missioning, mining, highsec wars, ganking, faction warfare, 0.0, incursions; everything except wormholes (spare a couple short expeditions). I’ve been debating what to try next, and that seems like just the thing.
I find your posts interesting to read, and I’ve read several other posts from your blog as well (but mostly the EVE stuff). I’ve even related the content of some of your stories to other non-eve-playing friends (the day you chased the frisbee) in order to illustrate some of the ups and downs of EVE to them.
You give me hope that I might, one day, get my small group of noobs safely into a WH.
These are folks who’ve been playing, in some cases, for years. I’ve been playing about seven months.
Imagine a player in LotRO talking to someone who’s been playing since the first beta of the game — what are the odds they’re going to be able to tell them stories or really anything about the game that that veteran player doesn’t already know — hasn’t in fact already experienced one or a dozen times themselves, firsthand? Slim. Vanishingly slim.
But that’s EVE. Everytime you play is different in some way – small or large – from every other player’s experience.
That’s most of it. There’s other stuff, like nerding out about fitting ships (reminds me of all the late nights we spent in college playing Battletech and Mechwarrior) and all that kind of stuff, but basically?
Basically, that’s the part I like.