Hilmar the Visionary


Today’s guest submission comes from someone who was until recently, one of the most prominent bloggers in Eve Online – Poetic Stanziel. While he doesn’t play any more, he keeps half an eye on what CCP is up to…

Recently, in a Wired UK interview, Hilmar Veigar, CEO of CCP Games, made the following statement:

“Our goal is to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life.”

That makes for a great soundbite. It certainly sounds visionary. If EVE players know one thing about Hilmar Veigar, it’s his desperation to come across as a true visionary in the gaming industry, specifically the MMORPG industry. Giving a TED talk is somewhere on Hilmar’s bucket list.

Spend even a minute thinking about Hilmar’s soundbite and it quickly becomes disturbing more than visionary. One of EVE’s great mantras among the playerbase is that real life is greater than the game. Take care of your real life before worrying about space pixels. Yet, a basic reading of Hilmar’s statement is that he would like to flip that mantra on its ear. That his game should take precedence over real-life. EVE should be an unhealthy addiction. That’s the basic reading.

I called Hilmar out on Twitter.

“What a fucking terrible thing to say, or to even want. What the hell is wrong with you?”

Really, it is a terrible sentiment. A terrible goal for the game. To have it morph into something akin to a gambling addiction. Great for CCP Games’ bottom line, not so great for the lives of the players who addicts of New Eden.


Being the visionary that Hilmar wants to be, he links his statement to larger global issues. His reply tweet contains a link to a short David Suzuki video:

“Well, we need some solution http://t.co/OvxkNlNLeP

The short and sweet of the David Suzuki video is that humanity is eating up Earth’s resources at an exponential rate, and we’re nearing total depletion. It’s the Mad Max scenario. Exactly how EVE Online is a solution for that is anyone’s guess, but Hilmar the Visionary thinks it could be.

Can EVE Online feed people? Can EVE Online solve resource depletion? Can EVE Online balance our global economic woes? If you’re being realistic, you have to answer no, no, and no.

Hilmar, though, seems to believe that EVE Online can be a model for the global economy, a model on which to make it “simpler and saner”:

“I’d rather have virtual economies go through trials and tribulations because they can be exciting and fun, and [then we] make our own economies simpler and saner as a result, — take the craziness over to the games. If you look at the international banking bubble it’s kind of like a computer game for bankers, then we’re all bearing the consequences. I’d rather these bankers did their banking in EVE Online and left the rest of us in peace.”

Except EVE Online is based on an economy in which there is no such thing as resource depletion. Resources are magically created from the ether. Asteroid belts will respawn overnight. There are an endless number of damsels in distress. It’s not a realistic economy to begin with, simply because resources are created from nothing. It defies logic and science. It cannot be a model on which the real-world can be based.

The goal to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life. It is a great soundbite. It smacks of an idea with higher purpose. It comes across as visionary. Yet it’s a statement without any real thought put behind it. It doesn’t reflect a meaningful reality. It’s pomp. It’s fantasy. It’s ludicrous.

Tags: ccp, hilmar, poetic stanziel

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Guest Post

  • Troy Wexler

    I’d like to preface this comment by saying that I usually enjoy your articles and reviews, and I was a huge fan of your Nerd Soliloquy blog while it was active.

    You need to stop talking shit about EVE if you want people to take you seriously. You have a talent for writing and a keen wit, so perhaps you should focus your gaze away from the game you claim to have given up.

    Also, you make a point that everyone already knows: marketing and public relations are streams of meaningless babble. Oh, the CEO of a gaming company wants to make his game sound interesting by pandering to people without critical thinking? Guess what, you just described every PR campaign ever.

    You are better than this, Mr. Stanziel.

    • Poetic Stanziel

      EVE Online is a smart game, it should also have some smart PR. This was some pants-on-head level stupidity from Hilmar.

      I don’t talk much about EVE anymore, but this interview had me face-palming multiple times, especially near the end when Hilmar decided to put on his big-boy-visionary pants.

      • Troy Wexler

        Hilmar very clearly addresses your main complaint in the interview. He says, and I quote, “That’s not what I mean about real life. But think about how
        poorly designed real life is. Acres of stores full of things we buy
        and just throw them away and consume and consume and consume and
        now we need a new thing because it’s pink instead of yellow. We’re
        throwing it all away and destroying the Earth and everything around
        us. If everyone were to live our Western consumption lifestyles we
        would need five planets. When you look at it we could do so much
        better. Putting people together through computers in massive
        immersive experiences seems so much more enjoyable than some of the
        stuff our reality is offering us.”

        I happen to agree with his statement. We wouldn’t have so much useless shit if we all had our own Holodeck (or perhaps a Matrix-like VR world to escape to after work).

        If you are going to continue these inflammatory kinds of articles, I suggest you read up on philosophy. You have broken several rules of argument construction, the biggest of which is the principle of charity. You have attributed irrationality to Hilmar’s statement when there is a very clear rational interpretation. Therefore your entire argument is a fallacy and can be dismissed.

        • Poetic Stanziel

          But EVE Online is not a holodeck, so why make the correlation. Hilmar doesn’t make that leap. Your defense is fallacious for making the leap for him.

          • GrouchyOldGamer

            If you don’t like it don’t play it — oh wait..

          • Troy Wexler

            Poe, I like you, but I don’t understand why you are doing this. You know full well that the article’s focus was on CCP’s upcoming Oculus Rift title, Valkyrie. Yet you have chosen to take his comment wildly out of context and then apply a totally new context (that isn’t included in, or supported by, the interview) in an attempt to make Hilmar look like a lunatic. I stand by my statement that you are better than this.

          • Poetic Stanziel

            The beginning of the article was on Valkyrie … Hilmar brought EVE Online into the equation of his own accord. If the focus is Valkryie and I took everything out of context, what exactly does the global economy have to do with a VR space dogfighting game?

        • Poetic Stanziel

          Perhaps I didn’t frame the article as well as I could have. If Hilmar wanted to just talk about pie-in-the-sky tech philosophy a hundred or two hundred years from now … fine … but he draws a parallel to EVE Online, as though EVE has any potential whatsoever to become the pie-in-the-sky ideal he dreams of. It is ludicrous and oversells EVE as something far beyond what it is and ever could be.

          • MaraRinn

            “perhaps I didn’t frame the article as well as I could have.”

            That’s a cop out for an awful article with no meat. You even raise some of the issues that EVE Online has to overcome in order to become a replacement for a real world consumption-based economy. You make no mention of the economy of Second Life.

            You, sir, were simply ranting. I suspect there was even a little spittle involved, and perhaps even some foam left over at the corners of your mouth.

          • Poetic Stanziel

            Second Life proved to be a momentary flash in the pan. Nobody talks about Second Life anymore.

            The problem with EVE’s economy is that CCP takes such a heavy-handed approach to manipulating it.

            Take Technetium alchemy to remove the effects of the CFC cartel. It’s hardly an economy to take very seriously when the game designer takes such a heavy-handed approach to manipulating said market.

            Or take PLEX sales.

          • MaraRinn

            Sub-prime Mortgage Market.
            Global Financial Crisis.
            Bank Bailout.
            Stock market crashes of ’47 and ’87.

            These are all real world equivalents, due to the light-handed approach to regulating the appropriate markets. Yet people take the real world economy so very seriously.

            What if you could get the EVE economy to a state where you could perform meaningful experimentation with various forms of fiscal regulation? Try out new ideas before inflicting them upon the real world?

            You already pointed out some of the obstacles in your article, but immediately assumed that they were insurmountable. Just remember that science fiction is about asking, “what if …?”

          • Poetic Stanziel

            You assume that the few people responsible for those economic disasters cared what the outcome of their actions would be.

            A small percentage of people with the aim of getting much richer than they already are, they don’t give a shit what happens as a result. Nothing is going to happen to them.

            They’re not going to “test” anything out ahead of time, because that gives up the ghost of blamelessness.

            Aside from that, sure, I concede that a certain amount of generalized experimentation could be done within EVE, but CCP Games would have to give up much of its market control to make the results of that experimentation usable.

          • MaraRinn

            The people responsible for the economic disasters are the regulators who catered to the few people looking to get rich quick, not the get-rich-quick schemers.

            History has shown that an unregulated financial sector is going to stiff everyone, steal everything that isn’t bolted down, and even then attempt to get the rules changed to prohibit bolting things down.

            There is plenty of scope for testing the outcome of changes to regulations in some form of MMO. The munchkins abound in every theatre.

  • Hilmar has always dared to dream big you cant fault him for that. Taking his words completely out of context and writing this “article” about a game you rage quit, well that could be faulted I think.

    • Heraklion

      What’s everyone’s problem with Poe ‘rage quitting’ the game? That’s all I ever hear.
      I like the article. It’s a good point, well made, by someone who knows the game, and well written. More please.

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