Invasion of the Nerds: EVE Fanfest's Impact on Reykjavik
EVE Online creators CCP Games are proud of their achievement of creating a virtual world whose population is greater than that of their home country in Iceland. Indeed, CCP are one of Iceland's success stories, having thrived even through the Icelandic banking crisis and subsequent global economic strife. The capital city of Reykjavik has a modest population (120,000) and with CCP having grown to be a major employer with over 300 staff at the Reykjavik HQ, they are well known amongst the locals.
Reykjavik itself is a clean, attractive and welcoming town with plenty of bars and restaurants and it is highly recommended as a tourist destination, but how do the townsfolk cope with the yearly invasion of digital spaceship enthusiasts.
EVE livery can be found adorning various shops and cafes, bus shelters and even the airport, so local business certainly seems to embrace the surge of international visitors. The locals themselves seem to have mixed reactions.
I recall walking past a group of middle-aged women on Friday evening as I returned to my hotel room after the day's activities at the Harpa Convention Centre. Nearby, one of the groups of thirty-or-so EVE Fanfest pub crawlers were ambling rowdily along the street in search of a beer venue. I happened to overhear the conversation between the women which, although it was mostly in Icelandic, I got the gist. One woman had clearly questioned the nature of the tribe of black T-shirted men who were streaming past. A second offered a grumbling explanation of some length, but two words toward the end I did understand; “EVE Online” and “nerds”. They all laughed.
A similar resigned acceptance was evident from a group of younger locals who passed as I took a photograph of the Saturday night line-up. Their tone suggested that they wouldn't be attending the Party at the Top of the World at the Harpa.
All things considered, it is unfair to expect anything more than tolerance from the majority of Reykjavik residents. After all, it is their town and even if there is an economic benefit to the presence of Fanfest-goers, it must feel a little like those with no interest in football who live near a major club must feel on match day.
Speaking to the taxi driver on the way to the airport, he was ebullient about the presence of EVE players, stating that he had met many of the visitors and found them to be pleasant and interesting.
He also pointed out that, despite the volume of males and the constant late night drinking, there had been no reports of violence or misbehaviour related to Fanfest goers.
Fanfest—and other, similar player meets—are undoubtedly positive events which bring the best out in individuals from throughout the EVE community. Not only do they provide the opportunity for players to meet in person and build genuine friendships, they provide a beach-head in reality which helps to keep the virtual universe of war and subterfuge in healthy perspective.
At least for most.
[The above video ends abruptly. I'd like to extend it with a montage of photos from the pub crawl. If folk have any amusing shots they'd like to have included, please send the to seismic(dot)stan(at)gmail(dot)com.]