Posted Tue, Jul 26, 2011 by The Mittani
EVE is Real, they say - that’s the flashy new ad campaign, backed up by an impressive video showing an almost-realistic fleet fight that could have taken place - in a bygone era of an alternate reality where people actually flew Gallente, frigates burned to get warpins instead of covops probes, and a handful of supercapitals didn’t cyno on top of everyone involved and slaughter them with impunity.
I’ve spent three weeks of my life in Reykjavik in only the last three months, a tiny village that calls itself a city in contrast to its sheep-farming competition on a moss-covered treeless volcanic rock surrounded by fart-water (ask anyone who’s taken a shower in an Icelandic hotel, if you don’t instantly know what I mean) where women think that the best way to distinguish themselves from their peers are myriad different designs of neon stockings and the men are at once endearingly blunt and frighteningly overconfident. Iceland is a place where everyone seems to consider themselves a king or queen, and park their cars with such insouciance that it would make a Russian diplomat in New York feel a twinge of guilt.
It is a tremendously silly place. It is even more silly when you consider that one of that country’s most functional businesses - ranking somewhere behind fishing and allowing Alcoa to ruin their environment with rampant aluminum smelting - is a company that makes a spaceship MMORPG.
Odds are you know this already. The annual pilgrimage to Fanfest is a lesson in culture shock - no tipping, no strip clubs (this particularly horrifies Americans, I’ve noticed), alcoholism as a national sport, and of course the fart water. I reiterate these joyous aspects of Iceland in hopes of conveying - and I’ll fail, because some of you who haven’t spent enough time there yet may still envision it as a kind of relaxing paradise - exactly how dislocating it is to keep going back there, in rapid succession, these past three months. Did I mention that this has been during the ‘sun does not go down, ever’ phase of their season?
I didn’t plan for any of this. I didn’t intend things to go this way when I started playing this madness-inducing game back in 2005. I was bored with WoW and picked up EVE based on one of the ubiquitous Somethingawful megathreads and toodled around in a little corp called Lordless, the entity which would eventually - after the inevitable drama which consumes and destroys small corps - transform into Goonfleet. My grand ambition in the Lordless days was to diddle around running trade routes in Empire, mining in a hisec system with a Ferox, and dabbling in some empire wardec “PvP”. I use the scare-quotes because the grandest accomplishment of Lordless was to sell sets of fake bookmarks for the Genesis region which were 99% accurate, but the 1% which weren’t would land you on top of our heavily-gunned lowsec POS, which became a veritable bug zapper surrounded by the corpses of our overly trusting customers. I think our stint as mercenaries lasted a week, involved perhaps three empire slapfights between gangs of less than 10 on a side, and then the corp imploded in drama.
I returned to EVE after Goonfleet was born, and was promoted to the directorate of the nascent super-organization purely because I was an old Lordless hand, even though I had no accomplishments to speak of. What had originally gotten me into the game was the fake yet extremely convincing tale of Nightfreeze and his ‘Great Scam’, as well as the very real exploits of EVE’s most notorious spy, one Istvaan Shogaatsu, who had been covered in PC Gamer UK - essentially the biggest media notice an EVE player had received at the time. My previous goals of trading were right out - the infant Goonfleet lived in 0.0, and we were rapidly acclimating to all the hard lessons which make one’s Empire experience seem laughably trivial and naive. I wanted to be a spy, to try my hand at the trade, perhaps to one day hope to emulate Istvaan in some small way, or to at least play the game at the same level.
It’s a testament to EVE’s few virtues that, unlike many other games and most modern societies, those who are clever and vicious and intelligent and lucky enough can actually accomplish the goals they set for themselves. After years of running a spy network, pulling off a various capers and generally muddling about in New Eden’s version of the Game of Thrones, I was even anointed the successor to the purely hypothetical ‘espionage crown’ by Istvaan himself. After the successful victory of the Great War and receiving the blessing from Istvaan, the EVE I had known ended for me. I had begun playing the game in part because of him, and I had continued playing to prosecute Goonswarm’s vengeance against BoB. Game over, the evil end boss defeated, and the love and favor of Princess Istvaan won. Roll credits.