Poe the Prophet

 

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.

 

iceland
 

 

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.

 

Tags: dranchela, economics, iceland, iso

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  • Harri

    You’re wrong. I’m with Poe on this one.

    Wishing people take out their real life real world destroying habits, bank manipulations, etc… out on a game (virtual reality) instead of in the real world is delusional thinking. Hilmar has been spending too much time in China with the slope pope. By the way: How much resources from the earth are consumed energizing Eve? How much goes in to all the computers, screens, etc… Stop and think about what “derpitis king” said. I don’t think you get Poe. Sure he can be an asshole. But you have to admire the guy for going out on the edge.

    • Kainotomiu

      How much of the world’s resources do we use to run EVE? A pretty fucking tiny percentage, I suspect. In any case, I’m not sure how that’s really relevant to the discussion.

      • Harrigan

        Every drop in the bucket adds up. If Hilmar wants to play that way then he needs to pony up where he can. Here’s where I got the resources comment from… if you had read and clicked on the Twitter link in Poe’s story you would have seen a link to an interview Hilmar did and his comment in there causing me to say what I said about resources thus allowing you to be fully informed of the entire reasoning behind things said. And I quote

        Interviewer question to Hilmar:
        “How would you describe CCP’s goals?”

        Hilmar’s reply:

        “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.”

  • Troy Wexler

    Dear Xander and Jeg,

    I am a relative newcomer to EVE Online. I started playing a few weeks before CCP announced the new voting system for the CSM election, and I discovered your podcast when someone posted one of your CSM interviews to reddit. I downloaded them all and listened to them in order, and I have been a major fan of your site ever since. I really like the new site layout, and your new weekly articles have been a pleasure to read. Because EVE-Bet sponsors your site, I went and lost 100 million isk at their new roulette tables. I have also been saving my pennies to get a shirt or something from your merch store.

    I was about to respond to Harri’s comment, but then I realized that is exactly what you want. You want the controversy surrounding Poetic Stanziel and his willingness to say absolutely anything. You want people to be curious about the latest “shocking” thing Poe says and to come to your site to comment on it. I don’t want to believe that you are so desperate for pageviews, but what other conclusion can I draw?

    Quite frankly, I am sick of hearing about Poetic Stanziel. As long as you continue to give Poetic Stanziel a platform on this site, you can count me out. I know I am only a single viewer and you probably couldn’t care less if I fucked off forever, and if that’s how you feel, then so be it. You are free to put whatever you want on your blog, and I am equally free to not read it. But if you give even a single fuck about your readers/listeners, you should stop this Stanziel bullshit here and now.

    • xanderphoena

      Ok, so firstly, massive thank you for the feedback. Feedback, positive or negative is always good as long as it is constructive, the latter actually more so. It is appreciated.

      Now to address your points…

      ‘You want the controversy surrounding Poetic Stanziel and his willingness to say absolutely anything. You want people to be curious about the latest “shocking” thing Poe says and to come to your site to comment on it. I don’t want to believe that you are so desperate for pageviews, but what other conclusion can I draw?’

      No. Just no. We haven’t in over a year and a half posted anything, text or audio with the sole intention of being sensationalist or grabbing page views. Do we want people to read/listen to our content? Of course. No-one wants to shout into the wind. Are we doing it purely to court hits? No.

      (Indeed, this piece was published on the site BECAUSE a lot of readers had expressed concern or disappointment in Poe’s piece and Dranchela actively wanted to post a counter-piece on the site. Would you rather I had just let Poe’s piece stand with the inference being that the ‘CZ opinion’ tacitly sided with him?)

      Now, that said, that’s not the whole picture. I’ve grown friendly with Poe over the past year or so. He asked me to run a piece he sent me. At the moment, myself and Jeg are trying to raise the profile of the site by putting more regular written content on the site. On top of this, I personally believe that Poe is capable, at his best, of writing insanely incisive, intelligent prose about Eve Online. These things combined meant I probably hit ‘publish’ a little quicker than I should have. Frankly, I probably didn’t do enough due diligence on my part beforehand.

      ‘As long as you continue to give Poetic Stanziel a platform on this site, you can count me out. I know I am only a single viewer and you probably couldn’t care less if I fucked off forever, and if that’s how you feel, then so be it.’

      This is where it gets a little more interesting. Someone is going to actively dislike or even hate every piece we write. Every single one. It’s statistically impossible that we will ever publish a piece from someone, no matter how good, how well-written, that everyone will like. If we were to only publish pieces that we knew everyone would like, we wouldn’t publish anything. That’s censorship at it’s most base and it’s something Crossing Zebras won’t take part in.

      (And indeed, the counter-point is true. While someone will hate every piece we publish, someone will always agree with something we publish. Harri has proven that in the comments here. Every column or article we publish won’t be for you on CZ, guest or column.)

      On top of this, if you are saying you won’t read the weekly columns from an author you like on CZ – Sindel, for example – because of one guest column from Poetic you actively chose to read, that seems extreme at best, churlish at worst. To deny yourself a column you enjoy for one guest post you dislike strikes me as cutting off your nose to spite your face. It is, of course, your prerogative but I hope it isn’t a path you go down. The path of censorship does not lead to a good place.

      Am I going to promise you I won’t ever publish a Poetic Stanziel again? No, I won’t make that promise. Will I promise you that I will be ‘extremely’ careful before publishing a Poetic piece again? Yes, I will make that promise. Indeed, I will be exceptionally careful publishing any guest pieces going forward. You have my guarantee on that. But we won’t take part in censorship on CZ and we won’t publish pieces that ‘we’ only agree with.

      Again Troy, huge thanks for the feedback and I’d love to talk with you further about this on Skype or in-game at some point going forward. Hope you understand where I am coming from.

      Thanks,
      Xander

    • Poetic Stanziel

      Relax, dude. He posted one thing that I submitted to him. Crossing Zebras doesn’t revolve around me. Thankfully. It would be a terribly boring show/website if it did.

      “This week in Poe News, he went 3-3 in Hearthstone Arena. Tonight we discuss with the President of Blizzard Entertainment if this is acceptable.”

    • Heraklion

      Lol. Complete over-reaction.
      Differing opinions dude. That’s what makes EVE, and life, more fun! Oh god did I just compare EVE to real life? I’m turning into Hilmar…

  • NotDirkSmacker

    I can’t excuse the “poorly designed” comment. It is predicated on rehashed Population Bomb junk science that is always proven wrong over time, but never called out. Isn’t this the guy who said something like “the typical EVE player buys a $500 jacket with his favorite ship on it” in that leaked document that led to the Jita riots? So a few years ago he wanted to capitalize on frivolous spending. Now, he thinks EVE can save the planet by preventing it?

    EVE’s market is exceptional in that it is possibly the only true market
    simulation out there. However, the only thing you could possibly learn
    from it is how to make a quick buck if they ever opened up a stock
    market in Gambia. The reason being EVE lacks the ability (and willingness) to regulate their markets to prevent scams and wrongful manipulation. However, the game is going to tell the world what they should and should not purchase with their extra money? I don’t get it.

    I’m not offended by the comments. I just think they are dumb.

    • Poetic Stanziel

      “Isn’t this the guy who said something like “the typical EVE player buys a $500 jacket with his favorite ship on it” in that leaked document that led to the Jita riots? So a few years ago he wanted to capitalize on frivolous spending. Now, he thinks EVE can save the planet by preventing it?”

      Excellent call-back to Incarna. Hilmar is the dude that was positioning EVE as the only game to sell virtual $1000 jeans. Apparently the Summer of Rage caused him to completely alter his world view. (Not likely.)

  • Im fapping to this as we speak tyvm