Around ten years ago, I played World of Warcraft for a day and then I stopped. However, it was an entire day from dawn to dusk. Clearly, this was a game that had the potential to consume me while its carefully crafted dopamine triggers pushed my every button. And so, seeing the trap set before me, I uninstalled and never looked back. Eve Online was craftier. It played hard to get and so I am still here over a decade later.
I first discovered Eve Online by seeing someone playing it on their laptop during downtime at a Magic: The Gathering draft. Innistrad, if I recall correctly. As a big fan of spaceships, in general, the idea of playing internet spaceships was compelling. RogueCorp already existed, albeit in a limited capacity, in the now-shuttered MUD Cowboy Bebop: Space Cowboy and I was excited at the prospect of porting those ideas into a more immersive world. So, it was with great enthusiasm that I made an account and logged in. It was all downhill from there.
The thing that I came to realize, although I did not know it at the time, was that Eve Online is a terrible game. So, without the benefit of this hindsight, I played Eve like a game. But, as most of us know, Eve is not a game that wishes to be played. It will actively thwart any effort to wring joy or amusement out of it. At first, I figured I was doing something wrong. This was clearly a game and games are supposed to be fun. Right? I would play. I would get frustrated. And, I would quit. But, something kept pulling me back. Games are supposed to be fun and I was determined to find the fun.
After three months of this cycle, I had my epiphany. Eve is not fun. It is this realization, shared among most die-hard eve players, that helps determine whether you will be one of the chosen few who stick with it. Most games, even those with the most immersive of open worlds, are inherently scripted. People built those game to be played and enjoyed. While there are certainly scripted elements in Eve Online, what the game is truly about is providing the tools you need to build your own experience. You, and you alone, are responsible for your fun. CCP has given you the keys to the kingdom and it is up to you what you do with them.
Eve is not a game. Eve is a world, digital but as real as our own, populated by tens of thousands of real people all telling real stories. And, those stories are all interwoven into a tapestry of actions, reactions, relationships, and shared history. Eve isn’t something you play or even something you experience. Eve is something you participate in.
Go out and make Eve yours.