Yesterday, my Countdown to Fanfest ended and my Icelandic spaceship odyssey began.
Before I even boarded my flight from London to Reykjavik, the Fanfest vibe was evident. I met former EON editor Richie Shoemaker at the airport and even then, the occasional EVE-themed T-shirt could be spotted. Once aboard the plane, snippets of conversation could be heard from various parties which suggested they weren’t heading to Iceland for the fish:
“Minmatar frigate… low-sec is broken… TEST are doomed.”
Your average frequent flyer must have thought they’d entered an alternate dimension.
The Spacegeeks Have landed
The ride from Keflavik airport took us through the volcanic wasteland which is Iceland’s signature geography (well that and ice, obviously) and into town. The pastel shades of the Scandinavian architecture and the brighter colours of the occasional wandering group of people (I later learned that students are celebrating graduation) gave Reykjavik a warmth in the unfriendly looking landscape.
So far, so expected. But then the crazy slowly started to crank up. After a brief hotel check-in, I headed over to the impressive glass monolith of the Harpa Concert Hall – the venue for the grand gathering of EVE Online fans. I noticed that the windows of several local restaurants and bars were bedecked with EVE livery and even some street signs welcomed fans of EVE (bizarrely with Star Wars characters, but at least they tried).
I met up with the A Tale of Internet Spaceships team and did my best to get in the way of all their filming, before we shot over to CCP headquarters to completely miss the press tour. Oh well. They got some nice establishing shots of the building exterior.
Wall-to-Wall EVE Celebrity
We had our first encounter with EVE Online‘s most famous player—now turned media mogul—in Alex ‘The Mittani’ Gianturco. He, like many attendees, was looking forward to the evening’s orchestral entertainment at the Harpa, which would see the CCP composer RealX‘s ambient game soundtrack played live.
For the majority of players however, Wednesday night before Fanfest was about the bars and restaurants, particularly the Celtic Cross and so, after a quick meal (during which I may have won a bet to swap clothes with a passing female student wearing a netball costume), our growing band of documentarians and journalists headed for the venue of the #tweetfleetmeet. Keza MacDonald of IGN was scoping for key individuals to interview for her own documentary and I was on hand to help point her at the right people.
The bar was already busy and as the evening then progressed it became packed. Many of the EVE communities colourful characters materialised as it wore on. Parody superstar and philanthropist Sindel Pellion and her EVE journalist husband Bagehi were already holding court, and I was pleased to meet Diana Dial—my EVE big sister. Blogger, composer and CSM candidate Roc Wieler appeared after the concert to add his own brand of eccentricity and I had a fascinating conversation with FeiryRed – a senior diplomat for Fatal Ascension–about the responsibilities of managing an organisation comprising thousands of players and keeping them entertained. Retiring CSM representative Hans Jagerblitzen was seen winding down from his long year as the people’s champion of Factional Warfare.
Xander Phoena of EVE’s Crossing Zebras podcast was in the house along with his partner in crime, Jeg Elsker. As a Scot, Xander and Keza seemed to hit it off (well, they argued a lot, but I think that’s just Scottish conversation) and they both got more Scottish as the night progressed.
The Mittani arrived and spent some time exhorting the value of looking after “his people” and how playing EVE is great preparation for running a business. He is an interesting example of someone who has been able to take his successes in the virtual world of EVE Online and apply them to real world interests.
There was much more which occurred, but I write this in the morning of the first day of Fanfest proper, and time and Fanfest wait for no man.
Today is all about the spaceships.