Welcome the the thirty-fifth EVE Blog Banter.
Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community.
Is this perception deserved? Should “The Nation of EVE” be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?
Suspicion is putting it lightly when it comes to the wider gaming community’s outlook in regards to Eve Online and its adherents. ‘Disdain’ would be a word I might use, or perhaps ‘surprise’ in the sense that they fail to understand why anyone would play such a game. To delve into the questions at hand, let us take a look at the first bit:
“Is this perception deserved?”
I don’t know about you, but I think so. Eve Online is a game that takes no prisoners and neither do its players. Scams, griefing and long cons are all hallmarks of this game, whether you want to admit it or not. Ask a hundred players why they joined, and I guarantee a fair size of them will say ‘via [XXX] story about a scam/heist/griefing/etc’. It is the ability to do things like this, be it for a negative purpose (i.e. I hate those guys and am going to ruin their game experience), for the laughs, or even for a positive purpose (i.e. infiltrating an enemy on behalf of your beleaguered alliance), that sets Eve Online apart from anything else in the gaming hemisphere.
“Should ‘The Nation of Eve’ be concerned by its public identity?”
Not one bit. As stated above, that public identity is one that draws players in. While that number could possibly be significantly higher were the public image of Eve Online and its community somewhat shinier and prettier, I feel that it would be a disingenuous move. Further, it would take away the dark luster that Eve Online and its players have worked towards building.
That being said, it wouldn’t hurt to better highlight some of the more noble pursuits of the Nation of Eve. Things like Eve University, Project Halibut, the Agony courses, and I’m sure more all serve as great tools for new players to come to grips with this behemoth of a game. While more experienced citizens of the Nation of Eve may commonly direct new entrants towards these organizations, they remain shrouded in shadows when it comes to the larger gaming community.
“What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?”
In short, little to none. DUST 514, from what is known now, seems not to lend itself to the culture of Eve Online. While mercenary corporations planetside will work hand in hand with the space going capsuleers, I don’t see much in the way of room for intrigue and politics in DUST 514. Part of this lies in the design of DUST, wherein Dusties will simply be an extension of the familiar methods of war and politics in Eve Online. However, a major part is the fact that Dust is a FPS, and in a FPS you expect to get fragged on a regular basis.
Much of the reputation surrounding Eve comes from a very basic fact of the game: The misconception of certain player niches that Eve Online can (and should) be made into a safe place to cater to their preferred gaming style. These are the people that think CONCORD is there to protect, as opposed to their real purpose of punishment. These are the people who think that if they choose never to participate in PVP, they should be protected from PVP in all its forms. Unfortunately for them, this is not true, unlike in 99% of other MMOs.
This is where things like the Phaser Inc. scam flourish – that small area of misconception between the perceived reality of marks and the comprehension of the facts of life in Eve by the scammers. This is where stories featuring villains such as Guiding Hand Social Club come to life. This is where Eve makes itself unique in a market being oversaturated by typical World of Warcraft-style games.
This misconception will not exist (in any significant quantities) among the DUST 514 playerbase. While I am sure there will be the occasional scandal or internet intrigue, those who play DUST know what they are getting – a First Person Shooter, where the main goal is to shoot things and kill people. In terms of ‘community’, I predict that DUST 514’s will simply be an additional niche of the overarching Eve Nation, similar to how Faction Warfare pilots, nullsec pilots, industrialists, etc are today.
In closing, I find it important for the Nation of Eve to come to grips with its own identity. To recognize its deficiencies and address them (i.e. doing a better job at promoting genuinely helpful organizations), but to never lose sight of the fact that what makes Eve great is precisely what most other gamers find abhorrent about this game. It is okay that Eve Online will never, in all likelihood, boast 10 million players. As long as gamers keep coming of age and deciding they want a game with some intrigue, some scamming, and some hilarious hijinks (from market manipulation to events like Hulkageddon), Eve Online will continue to flourish in its own little corner of the MMO universe.