Zeros and ones mucking with my immersion (part 2)


Note: Last time I wrote a long narrative of my ‘path-to-here-and-now’; it was supposed to be an introduction but grew into its own article.

People play EVE for many different reasons. Some want to amass a giant hoard of in-game funds (isk). Others want to spin their ships and talk to friends. Many want to feel like a hero or be ‘the best’ at some particular virtual profession. These are some of the more common motivations, but I probably can’t even begin to discern all of the possible reasons people play EVE.

Regardless of your motivation for playing EVE, there is really only one truly reliable outcome from a play session: For a time, you are a near-immortal, implant-enhanced, neo-human in the distant future who can command behemoth space craft from the comfort of a goo-filled capsule. You are able to spend sums of money that planet-bound mortals can only dream of. You have the potential to be someone or something that you are not when you are unplugged from EVE.

I’m not saying you can’t find high-points with other motivations — I’m only saying they are not completely reliable and will leave you feeling down or executing a cliche rage-quit in pivotal moments.

We are paying CCP for a framework of zeros and ones that provide us, reliably, with the potential to be what we’re not. This framework provides us with a set of rules that guide, but don’t determine, our behavior in the game; it provides a visual stimulus and conflict arbitration system so that we can use our imagination to direct the story rather than fill in the missing visual bits and quibble over what is possible.

As I previously explained, I’ve had a hard enough time trying to figure out why I want to play EVE. I’ve known that I do, but until recently I hadn’t known why. I’ve been through all of the mundane reasons: amass wealth, be a hero, socialize and beat sociopaths. Each reason, alone, left me wanting more.

The realization that I wanted to be something different (not better, not worse, not more, just different) got me excited about EVE again and pushed me to try something new. The realization was so freeing. I feel no hatred or angst for the pilots hunting me (maybe for the guys who are have no respect for anything, but they are not the most common, merely the most vocal). There is no more worry about how good my killboard looks. There is only the chance to play a role in the story being written by pod pilots across New Eden.

Now you’re saying, “duh, you big idiot.” Well, sometimes it takes a while to sink in. By writing this I hope I’m the catalyst for some other poor sap to realize what’s missing from the EVE experience.

I’ve said that we have the potential to be something different; I’ve said it because I want you to use that potential. Do what you want to do in EVE and ignore the pilots who talk about ‘failfits’, ‘comedy killmails’ and ‘you’re doing it wrong’. They’re full of strife and anger. They still think EVE can be ‘won’; but EVE is not about winning, it’s about being. At least for me.

Now that I’m at this place of zen, the little awkward game mechanics that have always bugged me are starting to bug me more. In addition to docking games, other bits could use a lot of work to clear up the pixelation of my sandbox caused by all the zeros and ones. The bounty system is utterly broken. Security status is essentially meaningless as an indicator of whether you’re likely to shoot me or not. An ‘alt’ can be created to fly around in an Ibis scouting for the ‘real’ character and later disposed or recycled with no consequences. This is, of course, not a comprehensive list. And, not all of these problems have a good solution — but these are the zeros and ones that muck with my creativity.

Despite its flaws, EVE is the best potential for me to both enjoy and be part of a vast story about near-immortals, giant space ships, intrigue and strife; that potential keeps me coming back for more.  What keeps you in the game?

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~ by paritybit on 2010/04/06.

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