Thursday, 28 June 2012

Searching for Sandbox Sociopaths


EVE Online is a morally diverse gaming environment. It is part of what makes participating in the dark universe of New Eden such a freeing and memorable experience. No player is railroaded into behaving in any particular way, everyone is free to choose how they conduct themselves and how they interact with fellow capsuleers.

Contrary to the uninformed opinions of many a passing critic, EVE Online is not simply a "sandbox for sociopaths". It is just a gaming environment that allows choice. At its core, EVE is a social game. The social structures that have formed organically over the years are as a direct result of this freedom. In an accelerated imitation of real life civilisations, groups have banded together for mutual advantage, protection and interaction.

Most EVE players are aware of this and revel in it, understanding its nature and enjoying the benefits. So diverse is the myriad of communities that make up the Nation of EVE, that there is a place for almost every behaviour.

It is armed with this knowledge that I hope to use my column at Guild Launch to present a glimpse into the many varied organisations that contribute to EVE society. As Guild Launch provide hosting services to gamers from a multitude of MMOs, it is a great opportunity to showcase the many facets of New Eden's player culture. It would be very satisfying to show the world that EVE Online isn't full of sociopaths. That said, I aim to present a fair and unbiased view of EVE, so I hoped to stumble across the occasional poorly-behaved, antagonistic griefer who represents the gaming world's opinion of the average EVE player, if nothing else but to understand them better. We know they're out there somewhere.

It is with a keen awareness of irony then, that I write the remainder of this blogpost.

My Sister the EVE Player

Eighteen months ago I introduced my little sister to EVE Online. It wasn't intended as a social experiment, but her progress as a rookie became the subject of the blogpost series My Sister the Rookie early last year. They documented Lozyjoe's early struggles with the complex user interface, her tribulations with the tutorial missions and her steadily growing grasp of industry and manufacture.

As she became more comfortable with the game, she introduced her husband (she needed a mule to assist her mining habit) and together they began to build a tidy little high-sec manufacturing operation. Lozyjoe and her husband were very much the cosy, high-sec carebears. This suited me as I flitted around exploring, missioning and occasionally roaming in low-sec. From time to time I would check in on them and get them to build stuff for me, but generally I left them to their own devices. They enjoyed the sedate pace of their chosen play-style and had no real desire to hunt for high-octane thrills.

Injustice in High-Sec

One night, I recall receiving an phone-call from a furious Lozyjoe. She was ranting about how their quiet high-sec mining session had been shattered by the vile injustice of her husband Caveat's Iteron hauler being unfairly destroyed by another player! How could this have happened in high-sec? She cursed the scumbag frigate pilot who must have somehow cheated in order to get away with killing Caveat's industrial ship without CONCORD reprisals.


After further investigation, it came to light that Lozyjoe had been mining into a jettisoned container which Caveat had been routinely taking from in order to ferry the ore to station. It became obvious they had been the victim of a can-flipper. Eventually, Lozyjoe (and Caveat, fuming in the background) calmed down and accepted that no further action could be taken. They had learned an important lesson about EVE.

Seeing how their view of the EVE universe was so blinkered, I realised that it would be worth expanding their horizons and my own too. One of the few things I had not really experimented with in EVE was being part of a null-sec alliance, so I made the necessary plans and relocated our corp to the Tenerifis region as new members of the ill-fated Split Infinity alliance. Although our time out there was educational, the shifting sands of null-sec saw me into a period of burnout, whilst Lozyjoe and Caveat found new friends and headed off on their own path.

Full Circle

Skip forward to this evening and again to a phone-call with Lozyjoe. The usual family pleasantries dispensed with, she regales me with tales of her latest exploits with her corp BSC Legion, who are now members of the Tactical Narcotics Team alliance, part of the Goonswarm Federation-led Clusterfuck Coalition. Laughing, she tells me how she delights in dragging her reluctant corpmates away from their belt-ratting and their anomalies to surge out on relentless hunts for enemy players.

One such roam she led saw the unexpected collapse of a wormhole force them into high-sec in search of a way home. Realising that they were forty-odd jumps from their territory but determined to find some entertainment rather than just start the long slog back, they quickly made plans. She cackles as she describes how they purchased some Thrashers and spent the evening gleefully suicide-ganking miners. She apparently even mocked them in local afterward. This from the girl who only a few paragraphs ago wanted to ban all high-sec aggression.

I reminded her of that incident from the year before and asked her if she felt she was now in a position to exact her revenge on that pilot for whom she had harboured so much vitriol. You know what she said?

"Nah. Good on him."

Ladies and Gentlemen may I present my EVE-playing sister Lozyjoe: No longer the rookie, now the suicide-ganking, quasi-Goon, PvP-obsessed, null-sec fleet-commanding griefer.

I think I've found my sociopath.



7 comments:

  1. I don't think she's a sociopath. This happens when people learn to accept loss. That's all that happened here. She enjoys blowing stuff up. That's fun. Also, I'm glad we corrupted your sister :getin:

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  2. That's just ... hilarious.

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  3. That's fantastic. I enjoyed the series following your sister's play last year, but what a turn around. I just got my roommate started, hope he responds similarly. Great read, Stan.

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  4. Sociopath for a sister ?

    Sounds about right. I can't really think you'd think your sister was all fluffy bunny.

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  5. So, EVE isn't a game for sociopaths, it's a game that creates sociopaths?

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  6. Awesome story. Makes me think maybe I should write my own version about my son's experience with Eve. Hrm, gotta ask him first.

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Lay it on me.