If EVE Online were set in the world of Warhammer 40,000, lowsec would be the realm of Khorne, the Blood God. Long before New Eden had even been conceived 40k was already old, and it’s one of those worlds that’s been with me for so long that it’s almost like mythology from which I tend to draw comparisons. Of the four main deities of the Chaos powers in Warhammer, Khorne is the god of anger, violence and hate. As such he/it rewards nothing but violence for violence’s sake, beyond reason or higher purpose. When his followers run out of people to slaughter, they turn on each other. The blood must flow – much like in lowsec.
Given that the World Eaters legion, crazed Khornite fanatics, were always dear to me, it is little surprise that lowsec is where my heart lies in EVE. Those who are deep lowsec PVP know this pull – the fight evolves to be much less about the “why” as the years pass. The fundamental principle becomes more clear: dominating other people, and thereby expressing an integral quality of human nature that may be difficult to accept, yet cannot be denied.
So why do we do it EVE? Is it for personal monetary or material gain? No, not primarily. Case in point: I destroyed a pod worth 4.4 billion ISK yesterday, I gained nothing from it, only took away from the other guy. I simply destroyed. I ruined his hard work, perhaps hurt his pride and probably spoiled his evening. Mine however, was made. Why?
Because I could. Because I knew that I had destroyed something that was meaningful. Because we as humans not only seek love and companionship, but also dominion over others. The circle is complete because with dominion we gain admiration from our peers, thus tying into the former instinct. Although this can be seen throughout human civilisation, it is all the more clear in EVE Online.
From making harsh jokes at the expense of others (a form of domination), to destroying entire alliances. The greatest destroyers are the proverbial rock stars of EVE.
Private Joker: I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.
Pogue Colonel: The what?
Private Joker: The duality of man. The Jungian thing, sir.
– Full Metal Jacket
So, who’s going to make all this stuff that we destroy? There can be no destruction without an equal amount of creation, after all.
In many ways I am a consumer in EVE itself. Meaning that my primary motivator for logging in is to destroy what someone else has built. My time online is limited, so while I keep promising myself that I’ll get into market trading, PI, production etc. some day, the call of war is always too strong for me to waste any time not doing it. This virtually singular approach suggests that my need to dominate or die trying is much stronger than any other, in which conflict is the end more than the means. While there is nothing to suggest that I am especially talented at it, managing only to be above average (for lowsec), it is still the benchmark for the satisfaction of my gameplay experience.
Meanwhile I have found myself looking down on highsec mission runners and miners, nullbears and explorers – the very people who create what I destroy. I cannot help but feel slightly ‘better’ than them simply by virtue of (an assumed) superiority in the realm of violence, even though there is no logical reason for me to do so and a stance that when objectively viewed can be perceived as morally grotesque.
What right do I have? None. Is it not so that the very ships I fly and the modules I fit them with come from these people, toiling away without honour or glory? They work countless hours, often under circumstances I would define as mind-numbing boredom, hauling their wares to highly competitive markets to eke out a meagre profit, just so I can have fun for the hour or two I have time to be online on any given day. What gives me the right to feel superior or to feel sorry for them because they couldn’t fend for themselves in the realm where I ply my trade? Isn’t how they choose to live their life in New Eden of equal value to mine?
Yet, there it is. An unmistakable feeling of accomplishment born out of pure destruction with no other reason than destruction itself and being the hand that wields it. I destroyed what you created, because I can.
Love, fear, respect
When all is said and done it’s all about how you measure your worth in EVE. Some do it in ISK, some through politics and scheming, others on the number of people they can engage in community events. And then there’s people like me, who just break stuff. I am quite certain as I feel sorry for others, they feel sorry for me – the lowsec meathead, thrashing like a maniac, killing everything he can get his hands on because ~reasons.
It all boils down to love, fear and respect. We all want these things, to some degree or another, in one combination or another. It’s part of what being a social animal is all about. The paths we choose to these things vary, and thank God for that. Because if everyone was like me, there would be nothing left to destroy.