Where’s The Content?Proto
Now more than ever, it seems like the promise of providing “content” is what’s driving corporation recruitment, deployments, and generally has become a battlecry of justification for doing just about anything in game, especially for the sake of PvP. Admittedly, my alliance isn’t immune to this. Brave Newbies strives to provide content for its members generally 24/7. While I understand the need to put doing things in game into categories, I feel the word content has become overused as a means to imply that without someone else providing activities in the game for you, you are essentially lost.
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Inigo Montoya – The Princess Bride
I’m a cinema buff – shoot me. If you have seen the movie The Princess Bride, then you know this line by heart. It was funny not because Vizzini was truly using the word “inconceivable” incorrectly, but because he used it so much that the word seemed to lose its meaning and its luster so it became a word that Vizzini used when simply expressing his frustration. This is my point about the use of the word “content” as it applies to the game. Now, before you start thinking this is a poor attempt in trolling hear me out. If we’re going to say things like it’s (so-and-so’s) job or duty to provide content, what are we asking? Well, if we’re going to match the definition with the context we use it, Merriam-Webster defines content as:
1a: something contained —usually used in plural <the jar’s contents> <the drawer’s contents>
b: the topics or matter treated in a written work <table of contents>
c: the principal substance (as written matter, illustrations, or music) offered by a World Wide Web site <Internet users have evolved an ethos of free content in the Internet — Ben Gerson>
2a: substance, gist
b: meaning, significance
c: the events, physical detail, and information in a work of art — compare form 10b
3a: the matter dealt with in a field of study
b: a part, element, or complex of parts
4: the amount of specified material contained : proportion
Essentially, when someone claims they are providing content, it usually means activities of significance or meaning. They’re offering to lead you down a path where good fights will be had and a difference will be made by your participation. Failing that, at least it gets you out of ship spinning and into the game. I understand, I really and truly do, but if you turned it into a drinking game and did a shot every time you heard someone use the word content in Eve, you’d most likely die of alcohol poisoning within an hour.
There’s a term used in the business and writing communities known as “power words”. In simple terms, a power word is easy, catchy, or powerful rhetoric used for easy appeal or stereotype. When we hear these words at work in the office or on the media, we all have that breaking point of rolling our eyes in disgust after we’ve head enough of it. Because that’s all it boils down to: rhetoric. When things get rhetorical, it loses it’s meaning and it’s power and becomes nothing more than a talking point.
From a player’s perspective
Content has become that rhetorical buzzword and has lost its meaning to me. If I fight someone, they didn’t provide me with “content”, I got a freaking fight. Someone else didn’t press orbit and F1 for me. I chose whether to take the fight or warp away. I fitted the ship and undocked. Years ago, I didn’t stare at a World of Warcraft battleground and admire the forty sources of content rushing towards me swinging their weapons and casting spells. In Everquest, I didn’t spend months in Greater Fae appreciating all the content that awaited me on Orc Hill. Lastly, I certainly don’t indulge in a game of Hearthstone occasionally and think to myself, “oh thank goodness a challenger is here to provide me some content.”
If an FC comes on comms and says “Hey, we’ve got some content. Fleet up!”, I facepalm myself and resist the urge to say “Hey, FC! That’s great you found content in a sandbox game with thousands of people, hundreds of game mechanics, and a dozen differing game-related activities! Let me know if you find a fight.”
Perhaps it’s the bitter vet coming out in me. Maybe I’m the one who’s missing the boat here, I’ll freely admit to that if that is truly the case. But for the love of Bob, can we start calling things what they are like it used to be? There’s a plethora of other words you can use to describe what kind of “content” you’re looking for such as:
More than once, I’ve heard new players asking “what do you mean by content?” to which the reply is generally something like “something to do”. So there we have it, right? When we’re looking for something to do in game we cry to the heavens screaming “PLEASE! Somebody provide me content!” If you constantly need someone else to provide you with something to do in game, then I’d be more than happy to provide you with some suggestions that doesn’t involve someone leading you down a path and telling you how not to be bored.
So in player terms, content is simply, “shit to do”. At this point, I’d much rather hear it put that way…
From a development perspective
If we want content from CCP, we need to start being specific. Clamoring the forums begging for content like a down-on-his-luck street beggar with his tin cup outstretched. It won’t get you the content you’re going to be satisfied with. After the last sweep of ship re-balancing, we begged for content. What we got was arguably some of the most controversial implementations of the mobile deployables. CCP stated that this was an effort to drive confrontation, but instead of theorizing ways to do so with these new structures players strongly stated that this wasn’t the content they wanted. Well, in a way, you can’t blame CCP for trying…oh wait. Actually, the vocal minority of you did blame them.
If you want content, start at the basic premise of what kind of content you want. Develop an idea, talk about it, bounce it around amongst your peers, and put your idea out there. If you want to encourage content, then stop bashing the person posting the idea and actually address the issue without the personal attacks and name calling. If you think an idea is stupid, then you’re better off arguing the actual points of the idea in a civilized tone where CCP will take your input seriously. Don’t believe me? Ask them. I guarantee you that you’re not going to get the game you want by shooting statues and being reactive instead of proactive. If we want to help with the future development of this game and its mechanics, then we need to stop asking for content and start asking for specifics.
So from a developer’s standpoint, content is still simply ”shit to do” but having all of the responsibility thrust upon them for the idea, yet all the blame if it fails.
I know this is a trite subject that is hardly of any significance to a lot of people. But I feel that if we’re going to generalize everything we do as “content” then we’re going to get everything we deserve in the name of content, but not what we want. Yes, Eve is about content. Where is the content and how do you find it?
(By the way, if you were playing the drinking game during this article, you consumed 38 shots. Congratulations!)