It’s one of the only video games around where in-game events are reported in the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the International Business Times. Players so talented at trade and diplomacy that they are hired by the United States Department of State flock to the similarly natured internet spaceship game. Simply, EVE Online blurs the border between fiction and reality in a way we’ve yet to truly capture. The end result is such an experience that it translates value, monetary or otherwise, as well as investments, relationships and stunningly dramatic battles into a quasi-reality that cannot be matched.
In The News
Most recently, Forbes reported on the loss of a Revenant Super Carrier worth about $9,000. Not 9,000 credits or gold or space dollars. USD. You can find out more about how costs are calculated via EVE-Cost or similar, but suffice it to say that between installation costs, blueprints, materials, time investments, taxes and fees, manufacturing, etc., it gets pretty steep.This isn’t to suggest that only the rich can find a place amongst the elite of EVE Online; it is only the dedicated, the wise, and the vigilant who might succeed in New Eden.
EVE Online hit the news again as a part of the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean “Vile Rat” Smith, a six year veteran and high ranking member of an EVE Online organization (the Council of Stellar Management), lost his life in the attacks along three others.
In addition to vital work supporting the diplomatic endeavors of the United States, Smith was lauded by his peers and enemies alike for his contributions to the EVE Online community. The manner in which the high stakes of ongoing events in EVE Online match those of the real world (especially for a soul working in such a dangerous and important locale as a foreign embassy) has certainly inspired a great deal of respect for the bustling economy and diplomatic endeavors in the online world. The Mittani, another high-ranking community member, said the following in his eulogy to Vile Rat:
“If you play this stupid game, you may not realize it, but you play in a galaxy created in large part by Vile Rat’s talent as a diplomat. No one focused as relentlessly on using diplomacy as a strategic tool as VR. Mercenary Coalition flipped sides in the Great War in large part because of Vile Rat’s influence, and if that hadn’t happened GSF probably would have never taken out BoB. Jabberlon5? VR made it. You may not even know what Jabberlon5 is, but it’s the smoke-filled jabber room where every nullsec personage of note hangs out and makes deals. Goonswarm has succeeded over the years in large part because of VR’s emphasis on diplomacy, to the point of creating an entire section with a staff of 10+ called Corps Diplomatique, something no other alliance has. He had the vision and the understanding to see three steps ahead of everyone else – in the game, on the CSM, and when giving real-world advice.”
It’s Bigger Than You Think
With nearly half a million fellow space farers existing in a single, permanent world (there are no separated realms or servers), the universe is an astounding mimic of our own. Talk to an avid player and it might just sound like an old salt telling stories of his glory days at sea, or a soldier detailing the events of a battle, or a trader who might never tell all his stories. Browse the wiki article on death, which can be caused by disease and injury as well as old age or starvation, and you can see: this ain’t no game!
CCP Games, the Icelandic developer of EVE Online, employs economists who work tirelessly to keep the economy in control, acting as a sort of Federal Reserve who has the power to nudge costs, rates, inflation, excess, and supply. Every other fictional economy tends to manage itself through traditional means. Even Diablo 3’s Real Money Auction House has found itself easily manipulated and subject to dupes and glitching. These economies all have real world value, similar to EVE Online. The exchange rate between USD and World of Warcraft gold fluctuates wildly, but still it is there.
But, unlike the rest, EVE Online stands out as an MMO that transcends fiction and false economies. Its learning curve can be beyond daunting and quite lengthy. One must learn not only the mechanics of the game, but the mechanics of diplomacy, trade, economics, and war. Once learned, the grief does not end. The consequences are painful. Victories are all the sweeter. The freedom is endless. The universe is ripe for the taking in the way you see fit. The corporations aren’t in-game factions; they resemble actual corporations more than anything else.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: In Space!
Scamming and piracy aren’t problems that CCP Games needs to deal with. They’re huge threats that you have to deal with on your own. Ninjas wait in the darkness of space to steal the loot from your missions. Ships and players are held hostage for negotiable fees; pay up or face destruction. Be wary of scammers at every level. Climb the corporate ladder just to steal the secrets when you get to the top. Mining operations can be lonesome or quite perilous as the threat of attack and piracy looms. This blog post by The Mittani summarizes the treachery and betrayal that led up to the very expensive loss of the Revenant Super Carrier mentioned previously. No matter who or what you are in EVE Online, you will never escape the ceaseless danger of space.
The more you play, the more you come to realize: EVE Online is not so much a game but an alternate reality every bit as visceral, monolithic, and terrifyingly beautiful.