CZ Minutes: Is This The Real Life?


Last week on CZ Minutes we discussed the brutality of the Eve Online player base, something which has come under a sharper focus in the past week. Carrying on from that discussion, this week we tackle the infamous meme, ‘Eve is real’. Just how real is Eve for the average player? Where is the line in a game that hinges so much on the interactions of players both in and out of game? How much of Eve can you ‘play’ without ever touching the client? Stay tuned for some thoughts…

Xander: The marketing phrase that has become a bit of a meme is ‘Eve is real’. A lot of us put inordinate hours into the game whether actually logged into client or not, sucking up and producing content. At what point does it become too much? Where is the line between real life and Eve? Does it even exist these days in our technological world where we are constantly plugged in and access the internet?

Niden: If you’re reading this chances are you have stepped over, or at least been close to that line.

Many of us have had periods where the first thing you think about in the morning is internet spaceships. Where you’ve stayed up for that important fleet and screwed up work the next day because you’re so tired. Spent time looking at spreadsheets in space when you could have spent time with your family. I am guilty of all three.

Frankly I have mixed feelings about it. Is EVE real? What is real? Are we getting meaningful joy and satisfaction from EVE, and isn’t that the definition of real? Or are we kidding ourselves and wasting our lives looking at screens, talking to people we’ll probably never meet?

Discussing EVE in this respect is also different from other games. For many of us we’re never really ‘logged out’ from EVE. There’s always the ever-present metagame via Twitter, Skype, podcasts, Reddit, Kugu etc. I’ve gone whole days more or less doing something to do with EVE all day.

I find myself having to pull the handbrake from time to time. Force myself to take a step back. But I’m not quite sure we as a community are good at doing that. Fuck – I’m not sure I do that enough.

Forlorn: EVE is first of all a social game. And all humans are addicted to social behaviour. Of course the behaviour varies a lot on your community. Since I started playing in 2007 there were times when I really hated the game but still kept playing since I was needed in my EVE community. When I can’t actually log into the client due to RL I need my daily fix on the forums to stay connected. It is like calling your friends in RL. As far as being constantly connected is concerned this is probably an issue that just started with our generation. I rather spend the evening talking to other people all over the world than sitting in front of a TV set though which is still very common. This is probably the same for other MMOs as well, it is the daily interaction what keeps people interested.

Eve is Real

Niden: I think a large part of why it is so difficult to define that line between EVE and RL is the fact that the community is so active outside of the actual game itself. It becomes a part RL rather than intermingled with it. If other games are water and oil, EVE is water and salt – it becomes a part of you.

You make some very good points there Forlorn. I’d like to make the distinction that EVE is on a another level when it comes to being connected than I daresay any other game I have come across. I used to play Warhammer Online for instance, I loved it. But when I shut down the client I was ‘out’. With EVE however I’m always connected in some way. Let’s use a football match as an analogy; with other games I’m either on the field, kicking the ball around, or away from the arena. With EVE I’m either on the field, or on the bench talking football with my teammates and others.

The question then; is this a good or a bad thing? Is this how we want it to be? What is driving it, the community, the game, CCP or all three?

I am personally, honestly, not sure if I should be spending as much time on EVE as I do. But it’s a part of me now, for good or/and ill. I often give my wife shit for being on Facebook too much, but what right do I have to do that when I can zone out in the middle of watching an episode of Walking Dead with her to check out the latest shitstorm on #tweetfleet?

Forlorn: Good point. I think in larger groups of EVE players in the current coalition meta people are used to get constant feed from their OOG comms. People talk there about EVE, sports, politics – you name it. So you are just not connected to EVE but other things in RL as well. Maybe that is why the barrier to constantly check your EVE stuff as well as you check your other RL stuff is really low. To be fair, I have always been an IRC addict as well.

Joran: I read a quote from Kesper in an article I can’t pin down that’s worth paraphasing here, “Eve is a hobby, not a hobby like playing Call of Duty after work, but like spending endless hours building model boats.” I think that’s it in a nutshell. You can play Eve to relax, you can treat it like Call of Duty, and join up and roam and log off. Certainly those of us writing right now do not treat it like that, we’ve taken the extra step. We’ve gone one level deeper, and treat it like building model boats. Is it too much? I don’t know, would someone ever ask that of a guy that builds hotrods, and takes them to competitions and joyrides in them every weekend?

I doubt it. It’s something he enjoys doing. He’s learning skills, and improving himself. What about us? Xander is learning how to manage an entire team of writers and run a website. Myself, I’m writing weekly, something I’ve always wanted to do and simply lacked the opportunity, and getting to pore over graphs pertaining to unique visitors or referrals whenever I wish. I’m quite certain of the fact people can get sucked into a game. I think that for the people who want to take it a step further, there’s plenty of constructive avenues; be it writer, website owner, or internet spaceship politician, in which you gain valuable real life skills. You just need to get over the stigma of all of it being possible because of a video game.

Tags: cz minutes, eve, real

About the author

Xander Phoena

The good looking, funny, intelligent member of the team, Xander set up Crossing Zebras with Jeg in April 2012 mainly because he was talking too much about Eve on his other podcast. Playing the game for almost five years, Xander still has absolutely zero clue about how to actually play Eve but somehow still manages to talk a good game.

  • Saint

    Because of the inherent complexity of Eve Online, players have to have an obsessive nature. Try putting together a complex reaction chain (and keeping it running) without a stack of reading outside the client. What about setting up t2 production centres around the whole of hi-sec (its what some of the WH production guys do) without a huge number of well set-up spreadsheets. Learning anything in Eve takes a huge commitment from the player in terms of time and that’s before you even get to the “rock-paper-shotgun-ewar-escalation” game that is PvP.

    This complexity is both its curse and its boon. It caters directly to the “Gamer’s Gamer”; the person who like analysis, working out systems, theorising and improvising with data and as a result the game is full of real life analysts, computer scientists, lawyers, accountants, engineers and ex-military. The problem is that the casual gamer doesn’t have the time or inclination to do hours of research and will play Eve for a few hours without scratching the surface or achieving that gaming quick fix that they are looking for.

    Anyone who wants to achieve anything in Eve has this drive to research outside of the game environment. Most players have jobs and can’t be online/logged in all the time so it’s natural that the questing for information spills out into “RL”, however its neither unnatural or wierd, in the same way a footy fan will spend hours going over the match reports and stats in the days after the weekend’s matches.

    Its called a hobby and it just happens ours is “Internet Spaceship” based and bloody complex but we should just be damn grateful that it exists or we might all be off building model boats instead.

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