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Molding Actuality

"Eve advertises be the villian."

I've heard it a lot as I discuss Eve the game and Eve's future. I pulled the pieces for the be the villian advert that I see when I occasionaly am on a machine without add blocking. It also happens to say:

But it focused on Be the Villain. It fades out and stays there. And I understand why. It catches the attention. It is more flashy. Marketing is about selling things.

But... ahh that eternal word to state disagreement after a compliment or moment of agreement... but! But! marketing brings people into the game and a side effect of marketing strategy is perception. Perception will dictate who decides to press the play the free trial button and what they expect to happen and enter the game planning in the depths of their conscious mind.

It is a problem on the other side of the trial. Once we catch them how do we keep them? How do we keep the people after them? My latest musing came because I saw an add on twitter. It was from No idea what type of site it is but the image:

Damn that looks pretty. But it is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong wrong. That is a Venture. Its a flashy ship but I'm reminded of the laser Raven for the Dust 514 advert. Next, a Caldari Bounty Hunter. I groaned and would have put my head to my desk but my paint tray was in the way. Bounty hunting needs so much attention. It is just not hte viable career that people are looking for it to be and here we have a big add luring people into Eve to be a bounty hunter.

I was reminded of the Amazon adds and went to find them.


Someone has stopped with the super misleading, flashy marketing ads. Thankfully. There are still some laying around. I really, really, really want that be the villain add removed. There are others more neutral, more tasteful, more representative of the game out there. It is not that things cannot be exciting, but those seconds used to catch someone can also damage as much as they may gain a sub.

Of course, I'm a player not a business person. I am quite probably wrong. I know nothing of marketing. But, I do know of effects of advertising and I have seen the attitudes of players that enter through different venues. Anecdotal it may be but that is what I have.

Small things have fascinatingly large results to people. We react to things, to words, to images. It is why CCP must cast their marketing net wide. Skirmisher, industrialist, colonist. Yes. That is Eve. Fleet commander, pirate, mercenary... these are Eve. I can curl up in this care and tell you stories of each thing. 

But villain? Hero? Powerful words. Gripping words. Words that would appeal to marketing (I guess). But the right words for Eve? No. And I think that Eve's right words can be powerful and compelling while honest about the game. Eve is a compelling place where people make choices and those choices ripple out. It is a place where people interact with people and those interactions will be different just because people are different. It is not right and wrong or good and evil. It is people making choices. Some may be the extremes of good and evil but most will be made in the greyness of choice and personal decision.

It is to complex for simple labels. To clarify myself as I did in the comments, if two sides go to war both are good and both are evil. If a third party drops in they are good and they are evil. It is not a black and white game where you pick A for the moral decision and B for the immortal one.

This is reflected in the discussions about trailers. We can be compelling and excite the deepest passions while sharing the actuality of the game. A thing that causes people to come into Eve ready to accept the game that Eve is not the clever facade created to get them in and hopefully catch them.

Of course, I am an unabashed fan girl of this game. My view may be tinted by such.

Edited because the problem with just writing your thoughts is that you are the only one inside of your own mind. It is easy for me not to expound on an area as much as it deserves to make sure that my actual point is not lost in translation.


  1. Why do you think that "be the villain" is misleading?

    EVE Online is very unusual as a game that permits scamming and creates an environment that encourages and rewards non-consensual PVP. I'd say that most of the point of a Themepark MMO is to prevent negative interactions between players whilst the point of a Sandbox is to permit that.

    Isn't that villainy?

    1. Because I think that villain ad hero create false ideas. It creates a balance of good and bad.

      If two groups fight each other they are both the villains and both the heroes. Eve is a game where both sides happen.

      People can absolutely be the villain. They can go and be a hero. They can make that happen but that is not the core of the game in my opinion. They are extremes in a world of undefined grey.

      The point of a sandbox is for people to make choices in what they want to do based off of their own reasons. Or at least, it is to me. Not to make them villains and promote negative interactions. Its to promote interactions and our community has plenty of positive ones. People who do nothing but spend their time doing things for others to have fun because they have fun doing that. That is what a sandbox does. it gives us NPSI fleets. It gives us random events with prizes. It gives us wars. It gives us success. It gives us failure.

      I don't think villianhood in anyway covers what a sandbox gives us.

    2. Oh Sugar I am full of disappointment. I was in the midst of preparing a rant about your terrible do gooder sensibilities once again damning all us evildoing villains with a broad “you’re what’s wrong with Eve” paintbrush when you up and clarify your post.

      >>> ::sigh:: Back to holiday Troll, I’ve no work for you here.<<<

      “Be the Villain” is often used to support no end of bullying interaction. At the same time, “Be the Hero” (or, more accurately, ‘I have the moral high ground’) is often deployed to justify no end of despicable outcomes. That said, I’m still a fan of the advert. Perhaps because ‘Hero’ and ‘Villain’ are primarily literary terms even though they are often linked up with unnuanced ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ bifurcations.

      The longer I play Eve, the more it feels like genuinely interactive literature to me. Spinning stories we are. Group authors we be. In a wonderful way, CCP’s ongoing shift to customer generated narrative advertising seems to recognize and sell this very thing.

      Patience Sugar, the old eventually fades.

    3. I'm not fond of extremes I guess. And villain paints extremes and it also gives images of Eve that stick and don't represent how broad the game is. Negatives cling more than positives sadly.

      I'm not trying to make Eve a play of goodness and mercy. I'm trying to make the public face of Eve reflect the depth of choice and potential in the game. Not a moral brush of good and bad.

    4. Sugar, Anonymous,

      We dance in a minefield, no? Society’s tendency to moralize makes conversations such as these hazardous. Even when we specifically wish to avoid moralizing, still the tendency to presume that’s what’s really underfoot slithers in. Now don’t change a thing Sugar (unless you want to) but if you ask me the dangerous sentence is, “But, I do know of effects of advertising and I have seen the attitudes of players that enter through different venues.” If I were the moralizing type (I try not to be), or if I believed you were the moralizing type (a conclusion not supported by my experience) one could read that sentence to mean that the problem with “Be the Villain” advertizing is that it draws bad/psychopathic/immoral civil society destroying people to the game. I do not believe this. I do not believe you believe this. Still, many others do. Their loss. Things are much, much deeper than that.

      Wow! Look at all those asides, parentheticals and cautious elaborations. We dance in a minefield, no?

    5. Sure, its because I'm having the second part of a conversation and I forget everyone else isn't having it with me.

      There was an entire question of why doesn't eve support heroes more and how be the villian is how eve is defined.

      If someone enters because holy shit, industry, that is great and that is their goal. If someone enters because holy shit sov warfare that is what they want to do. So if someone enters because yay villains they may craft that eve is ONLY about villains. But unlike sov or industry or exploration like I linked above, villains typecast someone just like heroes do.

      Doing it wrong. Its a problem in Eve. I want being a villain to be something you can do. I want being a hero to be something that you can do. I want the game to be advertised as a place full of things you can do and can become. Not as a place for heroes or villains, full stop, that's it. Eve defined.

    6. "Doing it wrong. Its a problem in Eve. I want being a villain to be something you can do. I want being a hero to be something that you can do. I want the game to be advertised as a place full of things you can do and can become. Not as a place for heroes or villains, full stop, that's it. Eve defined."

      I think that the honest version of that add should be: "Be the hero. Feed the villains."

      Doing good unto others in EVE just paints a giant bullseye in your back, and the game will not reward you in any way for it...

    7. Sugar,

      I will most definitely argue that EVE supports a "villainous" playstyle much more than it does a "heroic" one. If you want to play pirate (and make no mistake, despite all the romanticization in the entertainment industry, pirates are villains), and gank a shiny loot piƱata on its way to Jita, you can reap the rewards of your ill-gotten loot (as well you should; I'm not claiming this should not be a viable playstyle). However, if you seek to be the "hero", dashing to the aid of a hauler in distress (who may or may not have had poor judgment in how he fit his ship, loaded his cargo, or planned his route), what reward is there for your heroism? Of course, the hauler pilot may out of the goodness of his heart offer you some reward for saving his ship and cargo, but in the rare event that he does, it is almost certain to be significantly less than what you could have made had you decided to simply destroy his ship yourself.

      In a game in which economics is a significant factor in your ability to do just about anything in the game, issues like this can play a big role in how players decide to interact with each other. The fact is that the mechanics of EVE incentivize a villainous playstyle far more than a heroic one, and in many cases they actively discourage playing "the hero" by directly punishing actions which could be considered heroic.

      I have no issues with the existence of villains in EVE; they need to be a part of this game. But in order to have true choices in the game, there needs to be a balance between both extremes of play, so that both are equally viable options. Generally speaking, as it stands now in EVE, villains get rich while heroes go broke. As I mentioned before, in a game that hinges so heavily on economics in order to continue playing (have to replace those lost ships if you're going to do anything), a choice like this is hardly a choice at all. I find that most "heroes" in EVE eventually either give up and stop playing, or give up and become villains.

  2. Thank you for the reply.

    I think I agree with you; the advert conveys a dynamic that doesn't exist in the game. You can behave shamefully or laudably but there is no diametric struggle between heroism and villainy as the advert seems to suggest.

    If I didn't know what EVE was about then perhaps I would simply assume that you could pick the 'good guys' or the 'bad guys' like in any typical two-faction MMO. In that case the advert would actually be damaging!

    For me, that advert tries to encapsulate the freedom of player interaction in EVE rather than intending to specifically target a certain demographic but as you say, it doesn't convey that message particularly well.

    To respond to Angry, I'd say that there are very few heroes in EVE and many villains but I'd consider most players to be neither. Far from being a game of heroes and villains, I think it would be more accurate to say that EVE is a game of predators and prey.

    1. Well, not totally but more-so than a game of heroes and villains.

  3. The whole Hero/Villain thing doesn't match Eve very well simply by contrast.

    Almost every other MMO on the planet presents you as "the Hero" (who happens to be doing the same dungeons as the other 100,000 players). A few MMOs present you as a type of anti-hero/villain.

    Eve genuinely can't deliver on that promise. Even the villainous activity in Eve is going to come off more as "Be a Petty Asshole" if you actually described what it's like to most new players.


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