CZ Minutes: The Media Game

Everyone has heard the expression “You can either play the game or the metagame, not both”. The same can be said for being involved in EVE media (or the CSM). A common complaint amongst those that write, talk or create videos about EVE is that it consumes so much of their time that it leaves little to actually play the game. They risk losing touch with the boots-on-the-ground EVE experience and find themselves in a disjointed limbo consisting of second hand information and the ebbs and flows of the media circus. How do you manage this balance and stay grounded? Do you find yourself slipping or do you always make sure to stay in touch with the roots that inspired you to get into EVE media? Do you feel that this is a problem for EVE media in general, becoming its own thing, rather disconnected to what’s actually going on in the game itself? Dunk Dinkle: Once people put their toe into the waters of ‘Eve media’, it’s easy to get caught up into the raging river of things that are happening in the larger metagame. For many, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) takes over and they feel they must keep up with every podcast, every blog post, every scandal, and have a firm opinion on each item in nuanced detail. This is a full time job. Eve people are verbose, dramatic, and prone to tinfoil hattery. In my time in Eve, I have seen many players move through the cycle of enthusiasm to activism to disillusionment to disconnect with sad frequency. It happens not only with Eve media but with players who wish to lead and play at a high intensity level non-stop. They simply burn out for the most part. Like Ozymandias, fearful personas reduced to anecdotes and lesser told stories. How to find some balance? Not an easy answer since everyone is motivated differently, but it probably involves intentionally choosing to not engage in every issue in Eve. Think of it as ‘keeping your powder dry’ for the truly important issues, rather than feeling compelled to dive headlong into every spat, debate, and debacle. Another way is to simply plan to set aside time every day/week to just log in and play, turning off the web browser, jabber, Slack, Skype, and other distraction and just enjoy the game. Reconnecting to the game itself, without trying to multitask, might be a way to stave off the negative effects of being part of the metagame. Georgik Sojik: As someone who has never been EVE-famous, and really has no desire to ever be EVE famous, I’m finding all of this quite easy to balance and stay grounded. I think people have the same impression when people join Pandemic Legion, though. “Oh, you’ll be super space rich and forget the little people!” I mean.. honestly, I never really knew any of the little people, so they were pretty easy to forget in the first place.  It’s the same with the EVE-Famous people, I would imagine. They get really up there, and still keep their own circle of friends, but now they also have this cult following around them. They’re, to a lesser extent, the same as Youtubers. Generally average people who started to do something, and suddenly have a following, people eagerly waiting to either praise or detract. It’s easy to get swept up and carried along by the idea of your own importance, but at the same time, I think it’s just as easily to be swept under the current, and self-implode from the “hate” that goes with almost anything online these days. The best way to stay balanced is to take one of two approaches, either not care.. which is infinitely easier to say than to do. I’ve known many Youtubers who tell people not to read the comments, but.. You have to, you’re they’re there. For the most part, I take this approach. I rarely ever delve into the reddit comments of a piece I’ve written, and almost never look at the comments section on CZ, unless someone tells me to. It just.. isn’t that important if someone has a better idea, or thinks they can do it better. There is plenty of room on the stage for people to disagree and take up opposing viewpoints as mine. Hell, Niden will even pay those people. The other way is to revel in it, but still maintain a core group of people you’ve known forever. When you start losing contact with the “old friends,” that means something is changing, and it’s not always for the better. People should be who they are, and not the character they play. Hendrick linked me a recent coffeh time video where the host, Dodger, is having this particular issue. People are telling her she’s no longer as entertaining, and she admits that what used to be just a random bullshit YouTube Channel is now something she forces herself to do to entertain the masses. EVE Media is in the same place. People often get taken up by their own egos and start to believe they’re more important than they are. Some take their platform and try to get into the CSM based off of it, while others just try to formulate a “gaming” news site that would rival “real” places like Kotaku. There isn’t anything wrong with egos, but when egos start to become a detriment to the EVE community, it’s time for those people to take a step back. Just like in real life, when the news station is getting more attention than the news they’re broadcasting on, there is an inherent conflict of interest. Media and news and entertainment is supposed to be entertaining, but when the circus focuses on the actual players, and less about the characters, it breaks. Things like the podcast PvP that was recently reported on by TMC, where people are basically attacking one another publicly, or the CSM PvP with Sion and Xander having dueling blogs about who was the most useful CFC CSM member, just shines a light on how immature the community of EVE can really be. With the average player base being in their 30s, it’s strange when over-inflated egos make people act twelve. Headphones Podcast On-Air Neville Smit: If you decide to become part of the “EVE media”, you have to go into it with a clear understanding that you are wading into potentially dangerous waters. For example, by raising your visibility in the EVE player community, you paint a slightly larger than normal target on yourself. I’ve had a pilot take a shot at me, just because he recognized my name – oddly, he then posted in Local, “Love your blog, Nev!” Apparently, one of the ways that capsuleers express their affection is to kiss them gently with Barrage rounds. I have never had a problem maintaining a balance between playing EVE and writing about EVE, because I was very careful to define what both of those things meant to me, before I started doing them. Failure to set boundaries is where I see some EVE media folks entangle themselves.. I generally login several times each day to fiddle with industry stuff or to run a quick mission, and I reserve a nice four-to-six hour stretch sometime during each weekend for something requiring a higher level of engagement, like a fleet op, wormhole dive or a special project. I chose to be based in high-sec for a reason – it gives me more control over my own time, while giving me the most options for different kinds of game play. Being part of a null sec alliance usually means you have to concede parts of your schedule to your corp leaders and the metagame, on demand. I’ve no problem with that, and I salute those who do so, but it’s not how I want to play my EVE. As for writing about EVE, the most important thing is to know the audience to whom you are writing. This is where I see EVE media types get totally lost. As for me, the audience for my blog is always myself – if others enjoy what I write there, that is all well and good, but I don’t worry about it. When writing for CZ, my audience is curious EVE players who want to be better informed, and I’m careful to keep that in mind. Where people get ground up is when some element of drama enters the picture. The moment you start writing with a controversy as your audience is the instant you begin to lose yourself. Drama makes a terrible audience – there’s no way to please or resolve it, and no amount of eloquence or exhortation will ever suffice. It’s the black hole of EVE media.. There is no end to the supply of dramatic opportunities in EVE Online. It’s a minefield of controversial landmines waiting to destroy you as a writer, especially since there are so many professional-level trolls just waiting to feed the resulting fires, once they start. EVE media people who forget their real audience soon find they are spending all their time defending themselves, instead of doing something more rewarding – like playing EVE Online. Moderation in all things is a useful philosophy to live by, in Real Life and in EVE Online. Unfortunately, I see too many EVE media people leap aggressively to excess, far too often. Sometimes the most eloquent thing to do is to simply state one’s case, and then shut up, fire up the EVE client, and undock. After all, that’s where the really interesting EVE stories wait to be discovered – not in the comment sections of the EVE media outlets. Hendrick: I’m apparently an EVE-Celeb according to some. I never really considered this to be the case, but its supposedly how I’m viewed. It is not something I’m aspiring to be though, I simply create my videos or works in the hopes of entertaining people with things that entertain me personally. My esteemed brother from the same mother, Georgik, talked about how he takes the approach of not delving into the comments and such of an article, YouTube video, etc. Sadly I succumb to the temptation to engage with people there because I want to get my intended point across, and admittedly don’t always succeed. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that egos aren’t bad, especially in EVE since you need ego to lead a group of F1 pushers. However when those egos begin to damage the overall community outside of the game, that’s when things become a problem. There are numerous examples that point to people letting their egos direct them towards petty behavior. We saw it with an overly vague article complaining about “secretly recording people” who were having a podcaster slapfight, ignoring that its been a thing done for over a decade, or when someone uses their own work to openly accuse, insult or attempt to defame someone else in the community they dislike. It’s all rather childish and sad. I think we can all agree it’s rather silly that a player base whose average age is the early-to-mid-thirties has such a hard time with maturity. CZM-Media Cilvius: For me personally I do have to keep in mind that there are people out there who love to disparage the work of others. So far I haven’t had any of that targeted at me, but it does affect how I go about researching a piece I want to write. I try to ensure that I don’t miss any important information about the topic because I know that there are people out there who love to tell you you are wrong. How does this affect my EVE playtime? Probably no more or less than my non-EVE activities do. I will likely need to spend some extra time researching or rewriting a piece but I can find the time to do that. Living in a wormhole I have downtime while waiting for some scouts to map out the chain, so I can research or write then. My alliance also has a handful of ways to get ahold of members for any PvP opportunities so if I’m working on a piece and something comes up I’m not hard to reach. I do like what Dunk said about “keeping your powder dry”. I only write about wormhole stuff, meaning I can choose how much I pay attention to other drama that happens in the EVE community. If I don’t pay that much attention to it then I just “miss out” on some of it, but it does not in any way affect my writing. I’ve been tempted to start up my own blog in the past so I can write about more general stuff (including other games) but then that might require me to pay more attention to the big stories in EVE. Really though, if it were my blog and you got upset that I didn’t write about a story you wanted to read about, then don’t read my blog. As for comments on my work, I do tend to read them and I occasionally reply to them. Fortunately for me I haven’t had any comments that I can recall that were really disparaging, and I don’t get many comments at all (probably because nobody reads my stuff). I have pretty thick skin when it comes to that stuff though, so I can simply ignore it and let it roll off my back. If you haven’t noticed I tend to poke fun at myself and my own work quite a bit, so this isn’t something I take too seriously. I don’t feel that writing as part of the “EVE Media” is something that defines me, so if somebody doesn’t like or agree with something that I wrote it doesn’t bother me. Not everybody can do that though, and those people can struggle with the reactions of others. Niden: At the beginning of this piece, Dunk wrote: Fear Of Missing Out. At first I thought it funny, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised this was a very real thing to me.
I ended up where I am now because of the passion I had, and still have, for the game. From a piece I sent in to Declarations of War (that ended up being read on the air) one and a half years ago, to Editor-in-Chief at Crossing Zebras. But things aren’t the same as back then. One thing lead to another and as time drew on combined with the fact that I’m a hopeless yes-man I found my schedule fill up to the point where I now spend 1-4 hours each day writing, editing or talking about EVE. Contrast that against the fact that I play perhaps 0-2 hours per day. It was easy in the beginning where my obligations were few and I was driven by pure passion. Now days, that passion has to be protected and maintained. If you’re not careful, as others have pointed out, the work will kill your passion for the game. You have to remind yourself that the passion comes first, not the work. Without the passion, the work soon becomes meaningless and you quit. I agree with Dunk because once you become involved with the insanely active community of the EVE media it’s easy to let the it swallow so much of your time that you end up sacrificing what got you there in the first place. To give you an example: when I’m in full “EVE media mode”, I have two screens filled to the brim with multiple conversations over Skype, Slack, Twitter and email, while doing final edit or layout on one piece and discussing first pass on a new piece with one of our editors. It becomes very consuming and it’s simply work. I can’t just decide not to do anything for a couple of days just because I feel like it, people are counting on me. You also become involved in an extremely fast-paced narrative that often takes rather abrupt turns, thus the Fear Of Missing Out. I was on the verge of burnout a few months ago. I came to the conclusion that I needed to learn to drop the work and the community engagement now and then, and just log in and enjoy what drove me to where I am now. It may sound like the daftest thing, but I had to teach myself to stop and reconnect to that thing that drives everything else I do in EVE. So unlike Neville, this was something I had to learn to do, and I make sure to do it a couple of times a week. EVE-Rubicon-Trailer-Shot Tarek: On a personal level it is not really a balance question for me. Doing meta-related stuff like researching, chatting, fitting experiments ar writing and editing pieces is something I can often do here and there in-between work. Playing EVE is not, so I have to set time aside for doing so when I am at home. The problem I do experience, however, is saturation of the EVE experience. Having my mind occupied with EVE related things each day creates a feeling of actively participating in the game even if you do not log in. When the time comes where I could log in, I sometimes find myself not bothering to do so because I feel like I have already spent enough time with the game to be satisfied for the day. I can talk to certain alliance mates and other in-game relations without needing to be on coms or in-game chats, and that already fulfills a certain part of the game’s social aspect. Being able to spontaneously tune in and out of the meta is also a strong lure. Logging into the game really means I have to commit for some time. Either there is a fleet going on, or I want to try and find fights myself or I go exploring and that also takes time. It is not as easy as just exchanging a few thoughts on an out-of-game medium. Xander: See what this opening statement doesn’t clearly define is ‘playing the game’. You raise the question that we are potentially restricted from playing the game because of being involved in the media. What you are actually saying is that being involved in the media restricts out time being logged into the client. Being logged into client =/= playing the game necessarily. To answer the question you meant to ask rather than the one you did, I think the thing that keeps me grounded is Jeg and in a broader sense, the CZ Skype channel. I knew Jeg long before Eve was the twinkle in a viking’s eye, I knew Jeg when we were both arsing around in highsec, Jeg got me into 0.0 and without Jeg, in a very real sense, Crossing Zebras wouldn’t exist. He is very much my touchstone to ‘real life’ due to being someone I’ve known in and out of Eve for such a long time. Having that kind of relationship with someone for such a long time lends a sense of perspective that can often be needed when playing Eve. What I would say is that my time to actually log into client and fly spaceships has plummeted over the past 12 months between CZ taking off in a way I hadn’t expected and my CSM term. It’s the nature of the beast I guess but at least I know if not elected onto CSMX, I’ll have more time to clown around in client which isn’t such a bad booby prize.
Tags: cz minutes, media

About the author


12 year EVE veteran, Snuffed Out scumbag, writer, graphic artist, producer, Editor-in-Chief of Crossing Zebras and the second most influential player in EVE, according to EVE Onion.