Sunday, November 9, 2014

It's a Thin Line, Between Love and Hate

The Persuaders

I often find myself reading conversations and discussions with a feeling of mild, displacement. I look around. I believe that I am an Eve player who passionately enjoys and supports the game. I have certain beliefs about myself and my play style. I do not think that I am a perfect player or a particularly good player but I am a tenacious player and a happy player.

The sense of displacement caused me to come up with the idea that Eve is filled with generations. That is because Eve is old enough and Eve has matured enough that it has left behind it generations of players who have grown into their game at different points in Eve's development.

I am reminded of a story by a co-worker. She went completely grey by the time she was eighteen. It is genetic. Her mother also went completely grey before her twentieth birthday. My co-worker however, is a late child to her family and has about a fifteen year gap between herself and her older siblings. Well, she did not see her mother's natural hair until she was about seven. She came home from school, saw a stranger, and burst into shocked, crying hysterics. Her mother had decided that she was old enough to stop dying her hair and let it be as it was. The change was shocking to my friend because she had never seen her mother that way.

While not a perfect parallel, I'm seeing something similar in Eve. Back in May I wrote "A Post Incarna Child". I wrote it because as I listened to what upset people and what people were angry about I realized I could not relate with them because i had never lived during those times in Eve. I was not in the game when Incarna hit. I, in fact, started playing the day after Crucible launched. i did not even know a patch had launched the previous day until I had been playing about a year and started to dig into developers blogs and see Eve as more than what I just logged into.

Eve is in a great state of flux. The design goals and directions for the game have changed. The path that the game is on is starting to twist and curve in sudden directions. Eve is becoming something else that is still Eve but it is a state that we have never seen.

I do not think that this would be such a problem if it were not for the fact that Eve's players were in the exact same situation. This idea bubbled up because of the clone cost changes. And that came from a conversation where I pointed out that clone costs are very old. They where created in a time when no one had clones that cost what they do now. I stand at sixty million skill points and my clone is under ten million ISK. In February of 2006 the highest skill point player was at fifty-five million skill points.

Eve has aged and its players have aged. We all need to come back into a new relationship with each other because how we have always lived and looked at each other no longer works. We are different people. The game is a different place. in a comment on my weekly CSM post I likened it to when you came home and had a glass of milk or juice after school has matured for some into a glass of beer or wine (or hot tea. I love hot tea). It is not that you no longer like having something to consume and relax when you come home. It may be a familiar and comfortable habit that you have never lost. But your tastes have changed. What you do to relax has changed.

And I think that is where we are now. I also think that it is an incredibly hard place for the players to be in with Eve and CCP and CCP to be in with Eve and the players. Eve may not be its own sentient creature but what we do in and with the game has given it a velocity of its own. The game is not static. It cannot be static when it is composed of the players. And it is not static.

There are warning signs before you step onto a moving walkway. Walking is basic for those of us who are able to do so without impairments. Our basic reflexes are enough for us to not consciously think about the act of walking. But, when you step upon a moving walkway which is a place for walking, there is a subtle difference that you must compensate for or you may stumble or fall. The chances of that stumble or fall may not be tragic or cause any harm. But, there has to be a moment where a familiar thing transitions into a different version of the exact same thing to adjust for the situation.

Eve is a video game and for some it is never more then a video game. I wonder if that, more than anything else, is why many of the players who do not tune into the greater game are so strongly offended when their game is interrupted by another player. It is as if they are cheated from their game with this complex AI that they cannot fight against. For others, Eve becomes a hobby. They are passionate about their game and that line between passion and hatred is quite fine. I've been greatly fascinated of late by the number of people who have long, in depth opinions and reactions to the changes to Eve and then tack on, "But I'm unsubbed," or "I have not played in years and..."

The players have a relationship with this game. We have a relationship with this game. I write about this game nearly every day simply because I find it interesting and fascinating. Relationships are hard work.

1 comment:

  1. Nice meditation Sugar,

    If you’ll indulge me, let’s shift the meditative lens and talk about you for a moment (if for no other reason than making you uncomfortable tickles my malevolent space heart).

    You mention individual history occasionally making it difficult to relate to others and a mild sense of displacement that causes. I suspect everybody shares the feeling from time to time. The wonderful thing to see, however, is that at that point you don’t throw your hands up in despair but instead use that very feeling to motivate further exploration and deeper understanding. Displacement is not one of your weaknesses Sugar; it’s one of your strengths.

    For us basement dwelling neck beards, relating across difference doesn’t exactly come natural. And still here we are, drawn to a game that, in the long run, remains fundamentally social.

    Eve is hard in so, so many ways.