Poe the ProphetGuest Post
Dranchela is a little-known member of Sniggwaffe. When not busy being destroyed in Waffle fleets, he can be found in IRC making fun of Ciapek or working on airplanes. Or writing guest-ripostes to Poetic Stanziel articles…
Poetic Stanziel: writer, (ex-)player of EVE and maker of Hearthstone cards. He’s a well-known figure within the meta of Eve. His blog was one of the more unharnessed during his active days of playing and even after his Ebay-infused retirement following some kind of imagined personal slight, he remains a divisive character in the community.
Poe is insulted that an executive for a video game company wishes for his product to become more meaningful than real life. That one comment got him so angry that he felt the need to take to the greatest forum of all, twitter, to challenge the man who said it.
Of course, Poe looks at the situation from a top-down perspective as he has does often in his writing. Let’s try to bring some context to this topic. There was more to the response than Poe highlighted when Hilmar was asked “How would you describe CCP’s goals?”:
“Our goal is to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life. I think we’re making good progress! Certainly something like a VR headset helps a lot with that. When we said this first in 2008 people just looked at me like, “Hilmar, that’s weird — don’t you have a family and things like that?” Of course. 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.”
Emphasis has been added by me, because that one statement throws the entirety of Poe’s disagreement out of the water. Mr. Pétursson clearly states that he doesn’t wish for this game, Eve Online, to become an addiction to rival that of gambling or heroin. He furthermore goes on to explain in detail what he means by this statement, another thing that was carefully left out.
“…with EVE we’re running a half a million sized economy. Then I look at my own country, Iceland which has 300,000 person economy. There are more in the EVEeconomy than in the Icelandic economy. Iceland’s economy has gone through its own trials and tribulations. 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. “
What he is stating is something that is neither visionary nor exotic: EVE Online presents a unique landscape with which to explore various economic simulations. Considering that just this past year, special prosecutors in Iceland have convicted and sentenced multiple people for financial and banking crimes following years of investigations, including the former Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Finance. The 2008 financial crisis that at one point saw Iceland’s stock exchange drop by more than 90%, GDP shrink by over 5% in six months, foreign currency transactions halted for weeks, several banks nationalized and almost every citizen in the country feeling the effects.
Think about that for a minute. Think about the effect on your country should its most entrenched financial forum and viability tool drop to single digit percentages of what it was once worth. If you were the CEO of a company, such a thing would probably not escape your notice or your want for it to never happen again. Where Poe sees someone trying to corner the market by addicting thousands of basement-dwellers, I see a man who realizes his product can be used to run constant simulations using the chaos of emerging markets, technological innovation and downright human evil to observe and possibly craft responses to complex financial situations. With comparisons being made between the problems seen in Iceland and the well published failure of the American company Enron, are his comments honestly a shock to anyone?
In fact, in a 2010 interview with the BBC, Dr Eyjolfur Gudmundsson, Eve Online’s very own economist, states this very thing:
“In Dr Gudmundsson’s personal view, it’s possible to discern lessons in how future global crises may be avoided, from the economic behaviour of the Eve population. His main belief is that greater transparency would help individuals make better economic decisions.“
These statements and others in the article, when paired with those of Hilmar’s, show exactly what the CEO of CCP Games meant when he said he wants to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life. Poetic Stanziel tries to come across as being some kind of prophet standing on high shouting that the High Pharisee of EVE is an evil, heartless heathen deluded by his own position. Poe is correct in that it is a great soundbite, but he is not a prophet, simply a demagogue. With context – something that Poe so brazenly ignores – that one little statement sharpens into focus and shows a level of concern outside what we normally see from executives. It becomes a reiteration of a statement we’ve heard time and time again and have joked about amongst ourselves as we hop out of our seats during a large op to use the bathroom: EVE is real.
So real in fact that people who quit the games months ago still hop atop a rickety soapbox to make their voices heard, substituting volume for substance.