Eve is a game of economics. The goal of player created items and resource acquisition as a base structure for the entire video game world caused a subtle shift sideways for the players. Numbers matter and good decisions vs bad decisions can make or break an activity.
Instead of heading to the Princess of High Vale and receiving a quest to vanquish the Iron Dragon with a reward of gold and a fine sword, people had to go out and farm for food. After they farmed they had to chop down trees, mine ore, build a house, breed and raise horses, forge their sword, make their own armor and head off to vanquish the dragon only to discover that the princesses reward would not cover their taxes for the property they now managed. Also, their sword making skills were better then what the princess happened to have on hand. They had leased out their land to someone else and the apprentices that they had trained at their forge had maintained it while they were gone. The horse breeding business had expanded to a cattle operation as well and their mine had struck a vein of gold. Now they found themselves managing their entire estate, the head of the dragon they had slain behind them and the kingdom now coming to them for personal loans.
I started the game with an eye on building and making my own things. I was quickly diverted from that but I still kept a taste for basic mining and acquisition of items. I was often told that I should stop it and instead just buy the items, letting other people do the work because of opportunity costs. For a while I had the 'what I mine is free' idea and people are sure to lay you down carefully and beat you with heavy sticks when that phrase comes out.
As I started the manage my store completely, again the suggestions came that I needed to have other people haul my items for me. Whenever I asked why, I was told 'opportunity costs'. I decided to go to Wikipedia and look it up and figure out if what I was thinking about and what people were saying were the same. I had some questions and no understanding of economics beyond the basic level absorbed in day to day life. I found myself being given advice or arguments and not having enough understanding to formulate any reasonable opinion. It is easy enough to exist this way but I have reached a point where I want to do better and to do so I must learn.
Plus, reading about economics is a normal part of improving oneself in a video game, right?
Opportunity Costs is defined as:
"In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost of a choice, in a situation in which a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources, is the value of the best (that is, the most lucrative) alternative forgone (not chosen). Assuming the best choice is made, it is the "cost" incurred by not enjoying the benefit that would be had by taking the second best choice available. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines it as "the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen". Opportunity cost is a key concept in economics, and has been described as expressing "the basic relationship between scarcity and choice". The notion of opportunity cost plays a crucial part in ensuring that scarce resources are used efficiently. Thus, opportunity costs are not restricted to monetary or financial costs: the real cost of output forgone, lost time, pleasure or any other benefit that provides utility should also be considered opportunity costs."This base model is highly reflective of playing Eve. Eve is focused around time. Time is the biggest factor in the game because we can not manipulate it. We can not regain it once we have lost it. Not only is the game focused around time but life is also focused around time. There is the time to play the game vs the time to do things in the game. It becomes a matter of choices where the best choice decreases the payment of time and increases the 'stuff I want to do'.
Therefore, instead of mining the ore, buying the blue print, building the item, using the items we skip to buying the item and using the item. The buying and using may cost more in ISK on hand but with the immediate acquisition of the item the 'stuff I want to do' is activated and more ISK or fun can immediately be gained. This makes this the better decision.
I often find myself disagreeing with the concept in relation to playing Eve. I have two questions I have been trying to solve.
- Who does the stuff that is not worth doing?
- If I am not doing anything else, why am I in the wrong to do something productive?
In the arguments of Opportunity Cost I often hear to let someone else do the hard work. Let someone else mine. Let someone else haul. Let someone else build. The question I ask is when do we run out of someone else? Or, is the concept that we never will run out of someone else because someone will always choose the sub-optional road. This led me to do a little bit of research into the concept that I so often see people use.
Upon reading a few basic definitions of Opportunity Cost I started to see why it works so well with Eve in a technical manner. As I said above, Eve is about decision making to do something else. In its base form, Eve functions very well under the Opportunity Cost model and I can see why so many people employ it to make decisions in a game where it is easy to wander off into random paths. It helps a player focus their decision makings.
The archenemy of Opportunity Cost in a video game is 'playing for fun'. A quick search on that led me to see how much people hate that term. Fun is to unfocused a word and a concept. It is almost an excuse. "I play for fun" is something that everyone understands but it has no defines because it is a personal concept. Using it will only cause flames to burst from some peoples eyes and char their poor, poor screens.
Instead, I will use "Pleasure".
Pleasure describes the broad class of mental states that humans and other animals experience as positive, enjoyable, or worth seeking. It includes more specific mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment, ecstasy, and euphoria. In psychology, the pleasure principle describes pleasure as a positive feedback mechanism, motivating the organism to recreate in the future the situation which it has just found pleasurable.
"I enjoy mining."
"I enjoy PvP"
"I like to build stuff"
"I like to hang out with my corporation, drinking beer and chatting"
Per Wikipedia's definition of Opportunity Cost, emotional cost is valid. The question is what does the audience value more. If one values their emotional cost and the other their monetary they will clash. Some people will always define themselves emotionally. They are the people that those that work under the concepts of Opportunity Cost, in Eve, will use to move their game play forward. It creates a symbiosis If people did not find pleasure in doing less optimal things there would either be no base for the optimization to happen on or the base activities would have the highest optimization until they no longer did due to people seeking new opportunities. For those motivated to always move past others in their seeking, the people who are not motivated in this way due to their motivations being focused on other areas, give them something to work past and for their decisions, improve upon.
An economy consists of the economic system of a certain country or region, which comprises the production, distribution or trade, and consumption of goods and services in that country or area. From an investment perspective, an economy depends on, and is limited by, available capital and resources, including land and labor.In seeking success the path to success is to seek the best path. Success can be defined by the person but no matter what that path is there is an optimal one (or set) that can be used. If the person does not care about the best path the lack of care does not remove the fact that there is an optimal path.
At least, that is how I'm working through some of this stuff.
It leads to my second major question.
If a task in Eve is all that I have to do why is doing the task less optimal then paying someone else to do the task. I use Eve in this because Eve is what I am speaking of.
The situation is hauling. Hauling is a very time consuming activity in Eve. It ties up an account for a set period of time. There is a point where the items cannot be hauled faster due to the mechanics of the game. Hauling has a hard set cost of time that the hauler will eventually plateau at. The hauler may thus attempt to maximize the use of time through payment and cargo to reach their optimum Opportunity Cost to haul.
Some will just avoid the hauling and allow someone to pick what they might see as a sub-optimal activity selection. My question is where does that selection start and where does it end? If I have an account that would not be logged on doing an activity and I use that account instead to do an activity that I would pay someone else for at no detriment to my other activities, why is my doing the activity sub-optimal?
Using my Wikipedia based education I came across Implicit Cost. This is not the answer to why I should not use empty time to be productive but why I am not more productive with it. Why am I not trying to find items to fill my freighter when I make the runs myself? The answer is because I don't want to and don't care since I don't function under Opportunity Costs in every facet of my day. But, when seeking why I am wrong I found instead that I could simply be doing it better instead.
That makes a rather interesting argument that I will make sure to use the next time someone suggest I don't haul my own goods and see how that goes.
The waters are so deadly because I know very little about them and others know more. I seek education in these things and I will dive in and hope for the best.