Fanfest Perspectives: The ObserverOh Takashawa
There’s only one word that effectively describes EVE. We’ve all heard it, many times, whether in the community or in CCP’s marketing materials, or repeated by the press, doing their best to cover the most momentous moments of this universe we inhabit. That word, of course, is “sandbox.” If I ever have to explain EVE to someone in a few sentences, that word is featured prominently. It defines EVE, and it defines this community.
It also defines Fanfest. I skipped this year, placing my travel priorities elsewhere, but remained a part of the PL fanfest community, lurking Whatsapp and keeping track of all the activities from my desk at work. It struck me, having attended the past two years, that Fanfest itself mirrors EVE. Fanfest, and Iceland in general, becomes our sandbox for the week.
Over the past few days, my colleagues have been sharing their experiences of this year’s Fanfest from a variety of perspectives. Theirs are each unique, and worth digesting, whether to reflect on your own experiences as well, or as inspiration to journey to that rock just south of the Arctic Circle yourself next year.
As I mentioned, I went to Fanfest for the first time in 2014, and returned the following year. Each of those experiences were very different, but not because of a single thing CCP did. Sure, the marquee events had changed, the keynotes were arranged slightly differently, and there was better VR stuff to play with the second time around, but in broad strokes, Fanfest doesn’t change that much year-to-year, at least not recently.
What changed was my focus. My first year, I went to all the keynotes, the Alliance Panel, several of the more interesting sessions, and even a couple roundtables (learned that lesson quickly – never again). It was fun, sure. I reveled in internet spaceships a bit. But what I found I liked more, was putting faces to names and voices I’d known for months. I had more fun sitting on the couch in any one of the PL apartments, drinking with friends, than I did going to any session, or even sitting through a keynote. Fanfest was the excuse, but not what I was really enjoying.
I spent the bulk of my time lounging on inflatable couches in Harpa or out at bars, or again, on the couch in our apartment, surrounded by friends.
The second time around, things changed. I still went to the keynotes, and the party, and I still played with the VR toys a bit. No roundtables, though. I don’t think I even went to the alliance panel. I spent the bulk of my time lounging on inflatable couches in Harpa or out at bars, or again, on the couch in our apartment, surrounded by friends. I skipped a whole day of Fanfest to get out of Reykavik, not on some organized tour, but just to ride around in a truck with five friends, seeing what we could see.
If I’d gone this year, I’d have done even more of that. Longer trips afield, even fewer sessions. Even more time out and about, less time even thinking about spaceships, much less sitting in a meeting room debating their relative merits like some godawful professional development seminar.
I realized, sitting at home, that Fanfest, and Iceland more broadly, mirrored EVE itself in their structure and appeal. It’s perfectly possible to come to Fanfest, Thursday through Sunday, fill your time with sessions and programmed events, and have a fulfilling trip. Many people, whom I’ve never met, seem to enjoy doing that every year. Good for them.
Fanfest was, for me, not only what CCP wanted it to be, but whatever I wanted to make of it.
It’s also possible to just say “fuck it”, and make your own adventures. Last year, I ended up in an Icelandic hardware store one day, looking for a toilet seat. Long story. What mattered, and what made it so much more fun for me than the previous year, was that I was making those choices as to what to do, myself. Fanfest was, for me, not only what CCP wanted it to be, but whatever I wanted to make of it.
This year, one of my friends threw himself off of a mountain, others tried to ride horses, while still others went diving or on boat tours. All during your regularly-scheduled Fanfest programming. And y’know what? The folks in the meeting rooms, like those sitting in hisec running missions, are in my opinion missing what makes EVE, and Fanfest, such an incredible thing. EVE, and Fanfest, are what you make of them. If you simply follow the path laid out on a schedule – the path built for you – you’re missing out.