The internet defines our epoch; there’s no doubt about that. However, if time travel were also a reality, you might find it difficult to explain the internet to your ancestors.
“So, in the future, you write and talk to each other? Great, we do that too, that is reassuring. Have you seen this typewriting machine a guy invented? You will have moved on from that, right?”
“Yeah right”, I say unconvincingly. “But we have moved on from Avian Carrier Protocol.”
“Good to hear. Progress is a wonderful thing. It’s also good to see your haven’t all turned into Eloi and Morlocks!”, responds the random ancestor.
“We are working on it” says I, retreating back to the time machine.
“The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells (that well known game-head) takes the perspective of a 19th century “gentleman”, who observes how his world (d)evolves in the future. This is not always a passive exercise, and ultimately this journey fundamentally changes him. When it comes to Eve, this resonates with me. Clearly, I am no gentleman and I am not about to transform my real life in some way because of Eve, but it does help describe my engagement in the game and how I play it. I have my reference points: I observe and occasionally intervene in a way that makes sense to me at least, if not to those I interact with.
What do I see? To say Eve is comprised solely of Wells’ Morlocks and Eloi might be a generalisation. There are other time-travellers too. Characters who just drift in and out of the game treading their own path and avoiding the main narrative. However, it is clear there is a representative collection of troglodytes hunting innocent little rabbits to munch on in game, but like in the book a symbiotic relationship exists between the two.
The Morlocks preside over New Eden’s farms to fatten up the Eloi who they will harvest at some point. The Eloi are frightened of the dark (Low, Null, and Wormholes), are not particularly empathetic to each other and rarely organise, but are happy enough to dance around Hi-Sec until the time has come to be eaten. This would be the obvious analysis but it isn’t quite as simple as that.
At character level you can be both Morlock and Eloi in Eve. This option the Morlocks and Eloi didn’t have because of the evolutionary routes they had taken. For us it comes down to personal choice and commitment to a chosen path. But that choice becomes constrained as you move up the organisational tree. The corp in Eve corrals the character towards a purpose and that could be mining, PvP, lolz or whatever, but the character’s choices are now constrained or delegated. To go mining and asteroid hugging in a Venture when your leet PvP corp raises a desperate CTA is not going to win you any friends. Essentially, you have devolved your right to make a decision and will have obligations to fulfil when the siren sounds. You have become an Eloi. Yes, the highsec lambs gambolling across the fields of Uedema are not the only Eloi in Eve.
None of this should be surprising. Being an Eloi is actually fun even though you are almost compelled to go down this route. Initially at least. Just try setting up a POS as a single player. (As an aside, I have never understood why you can deflower a multiple planets with PI but not set up a simple POS as a single player. It seems incongruous.) The corporate/alliance mechanics pretty much preclude anything other than the Morlock/Eloi relationship. The overwhelming mantra from the head Morlock (aka CCP) of “the best ship is friendship” or “join a corp” is not a coincidence. Besides, it is more appealing than “stop thinking and jump in the content machine!” Now this might seem a tad negative but it shouldn’t be viewed that way. A deal is done and the Eloi are amply gratified with delicious content in return for their passivity. If they don’t like the deal they move on or leave the game.
The deal, however, is not a balanced one. There is a tension that is always present between what the Morlock needs and what the Morlock has to do to meet those needs. The poor Morlock is the one who deserves our pity. To keep their Eloi brood enslaved they must generate content. But the Eloi’s thirst is insatiable. Morlocks must both compete and collude with other Morlocks to maintain their herd, to stop it being poached and to keep the content factory running. To help with this, we get SRP and other incentives thrown in. For without the Eloi the Morlocks are nothing. It is the rough end of the deal because ultimately they fail at some point when their content machine breaks and they start losing control of their Eloi.
Of course, the head Morlock (CCP) has the same problem. “More content! – More Eloi landfill!” they hear. What do they do about it? Remarkably for a game maker they talk to the Eloi. Try and give them what they want. But here’s the thing. Their perception of an Eloi is not necessarily equivalent to the in-game perception. They talk to the vocal Eloi. The ones we could imagine as being Morlocks. And so we have Fozziesov. A remarkable change that provides great content for… Morlocks to compete with other Morlocks. Whether the Eloi masses will take to it is open to debate and only time will tell. Certainly, there isn’t much there that can be directly used by Eloi. They won’t be building any structures or capturing any flags. The long bet is that the Morlocks will lose their fixation on each other and use the changes as tools to start generating content to attract Eloi. It will be interesting to see if the new capture the flag game for a Morlock is the answer and the bet pays off.
As for the timetraveller? If that is me then I am just an inconsequential anomaly or perhaps a parasite that casually inhabits the margins of New Eden and rarely interacts with the game of species. I am there but not part of the narrative. But what a marvellous place it is. Something H.G. Wells imagined. Something the internet can do. Something I could never explain to my ancestors.
For reasons that are not entirely clear, Luobote Kong is an anachosyndiclist carebear explorer. Born in 2013, he can be found, or perhaps smouldering bits of him can be found in any part of New Eden. Yet to kill anyone, he wonders if New Eden was the solution, then what was the problem? He occaisionally puts his findings into words or music.