Posted Tue, Jul 06, 2010 by Space Junkie
EVE Online is an unusually nationalistic game. People tend to form corporations and alliances with people that are from the same country as them. There are plenty of reasons to do so, including the use of a shared language, the benefits of cooperation between players that are active during the same time zone, and a general familiarity with compatriots. This is all well and good. Except when it isn't.
Throughout EVE Online's history, the political end-game of lawless space has been dominated by European players, or at least players that are chiefly active during European time zones. This is unusual because more players in EVE Online come from the United States than any other country. Yet players from the U.S. and rest of the Americas make up an apparently low portion of the players living in lawless space and taking part in alliance politics.
Plenty of Americans end up in null-sec alliances, but (usually) not as alliance CEOs.
Are Americans really so uninvolved with the politics of EVE Online? Are they as underrepresented as they first seem? If so, why? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? And what might this portend for the future of EVE Online? This article examines these questions and speculates about the future.
Where Are The Americans?
There are no shortage of Americans in high-security space. Since people from the United States make up such a high portion of EVE Online's players, and high-sec is the default location for players, it is obvious that the majority are going to end up there.
But when one looks at a sovereignty map of the big alliances out in null-sec, and begins attaching majority demographics to alliance names, one finds a near-complete European prevalence. The big guys on the map have long histories of European leadership and membership. This is only now beginning to change, and only in very limited ways.
Consider some alliance names that are currently big on the map: IT/BoB Alliance, Against All Authorities, RAZOR, Legion of xXDEATHXx, Tau Ceti Federation, Solar Fleet, RED.Overlord, Morsus Mihi, or Atlas Alliance. Of all of these, only the last has any association with the United States. The rest have now or previously had a distinctly European member demographic, even if they are not built around a specific national identity.
Though there are United States citizens in positions of leadership within those alliances, none of them other than Atlas have an American as their alliance leader, or at least not until recently. The question is, why not?
Europeans Had First Crack At EVE
Some of the explanations about this are probably the simplest: EVE Online is a game that favors older players, and the game was available in Europe first. Certainly, it became popular there, first.
This gave European players a huge advantage in terms of skillpoints and, more importantly, player expertise. Europeans also had a chance to organize themselves into corporations, often along nationalist lines, and occupy stretches of null-sec space.
This meant that late-comer Americans had to deal with already established groups in order to carve themselves off a piece. Because EVE Online's end-game has a sort of inertia about it, it was difficult for new organizations to compete with the already well-entrenched European groups. Far easier to just join them, though this would not be in a capacity of leadership, since trust is such a rare commodity in EVE.
American-led corporations in null-sec tend to rent space from larger alliances. Or, more likely, they never go out into lawless space at all. A lot of European wise-acres would probably like to attribute the poor performance of US-led organizations to a general cultural deficiency. I find this unlikely (and unfriendly).
A more plausible explanation is that Americans do not take their hobbies as seriously as Europeans. It has certainly been observed of war game enthusiasts that Americans trend toward dilettantism in contrast with European-associated obsession. Not to say that there are not similar enthusiasts on both sides of the pond, but that there is a noted difference in the approach that players from each continent take toward their hobbies.
Another, more political theory is that Europeans are somehow inherently better at cooperation because they largely hail from countries with socialist governments. I do not think this is very important. First, the governments and societies of Europe are as different from each other as they are from the United States. Second, the character of a nation is not necessarily imprinted on every citizen's personality or capabilities.