Bitter Vets vs. New Bros: The Gerontocracy of Eve
EVE, simply put, is a gerontocracy. Now before you race to your dictionary, I’ll explain.
In EVE, the older and more experienced a player is, the more capabilities, influence, and credibility they wield. It isn’t too often that you’ll see a character with less than 10 million SP FCing a major fleet or controlling a large null sec alliance. On the flip-side, I dare you to show me a veteran capsuleer that doesn’t have a large amount of credibility among the newer pilots they associate with.
When thinking on this social paradigm, I wondered what the cause of this disparity was. There was the obvious answer that the older you are, the more SP you have, and the more things you can do well, but anyone with half a brain and a little EVE experience could figure that out. There had to be something more subtle at play. Eventually, I narrowed it down to two additional factors, reputation and interpersonal skills.
It’s often said that EVE is a game that revolves around reputation. There are those in EVE that have become space celebrities, the likes of The Mittani, Chribba, Boom Boom Longtime--just to name a few. Of the myriad of qualities that space celebrities have in common, one is nearly universal: experience. How much time they've put into this silly internet spaceship game we all love/hate. You don’t get to be on Mittani level influence without a lot of invested time. New players can’t get around the fact that you have to put in a lot of hours to gain any amount of credibility. As such, they’re often looked over when it comes to responsibility and decision making.
The other thing that most new players lack is the interpersonal skill that EVE requires of those in the upper echelons of power. I don’t know about you, but I don’t come into EVE knowing the ins and outs of decision-making that would have an impact on hundreds, if not thousands. Outside the realms of business and politics, people are rarely asked to make choices on that scale in their everyday lives. That’s something one doesn’t develop overnight. Beyond making large-scale decisions, the EVE famous have to have the charm and force of personality to convince others of their agenda and ideas. There are a lucky few that are born with such charisma but even then it takes time to hone and perfect.
Dispensing with the social philosophy, let’s look more to the practical side of things. The first question any noob will ask themselves is, “How the #@^& do I compete?!” "What am I supposed to do outside being relegated to the role of tackler, bait ship, mining grunt, or the myriad of other lowly tasks that I am volun-told to do?"
My answer to you, intrepid new bro, is to focus on the so-called “soft skills” of EVE. These are the sorts of skill that aren’t linked to a skill point number. Notable examples are FCing, scouting, spotting the good trade, and my favorite, espionage. The last example is particularly suited to newer players. You would be surprised how much information you're told about the inner workings of a corp or alliance with seemingly innocent and noobish questions.
Unfortunately for you, new bro, most of these soft skills do take time to become competent in, let alone master. The perk, however, is that there aren't any in-game attributes to restrict how fast you can become competent. What's more, soft skills are often more valuable to you as a player than any ability based on skill points.
So, different hypothetical new bro, you may be thinking to yourself, “Those soft skills are all well and good, but I don’t really want to get into such high-profile roles this early in the game.” Firstly, I say to you, “Grow a pair,” but in the meantime the Retribution expansion has come to your rescue. With all the T1 ship rebalancing, it’s easier than ever for a new bro to noticeably contribute.
A notable example is the logistics role. No longer the exclusive domain of grizzled vets--you too, timid noob, can try your hand at the subtle art of keeping the rest of us from dying in a fire. If that’s not your cup of Quafe, there’s always the 500 DPS Vexor. (Aside: I mean, really?! It’s a T1 crusier! FFS!) Anyway, be sure to always remember, new bros, that even you can take out a Titan, you just need to bring 2000 of your closest friends. So get out there and start making some friends... and enemies, because only cowards don't make enemies.
Now enough with the noob pandering; let's shift our attention to you bitter vets. The average bitter vet, I would say, values the gerontocracy and rightfully so. If you’ve played EVE for any significant length of time, there have been numerous occasions where you've had your teeth kicked in by this cruel internet spaceship mistress. But rather than throwing in the towel and calling it quits, you picked yourself up, dusted off your implants and charged back into the thick of it. You've earned your position. You made it through the days when the tutorial consisted of you being handed a gun, a mining laser and being unceremoniously thrust into space with the advice, “Don’t die.” So don't let these feisty greenies muscle in on your turf. Stay focused, bring the heat, and be ready with that sharpened mining crystal to stab them in the back.
The gerontocracy is a fixture on EVE’s social landscape. I can’t imagine it going anywhere anytime soon. There will always be the new bros craving more and the bitter vets having responsibility thrust upon them. So bitter vets, help out your new bros now and then--you were there once too. And new bros, listen to your vets; they probably know what they’re talking about.