Why You Should Never Trust Anyone In EVE Online
I read an interesting article over at the Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah today about how one of the alliances in EVE Online, the Ushra’Khan, had been disbanded just a few days ago after being infiltrated by one of their enemies over the course of a year. Although I’ve never been able to engage in that stratosphere of gameplay in EVE (yet) I still love reading about these stories and try to follow the goings-on throughout New Eden as much as possible. To me, this constant struggle between corporations and alliances for dominance is a real attraction of its sandbox design. It’s not necessarily about PvP either but rather more the idea that individuals can actually shape the virtual universe around them and that their actions have impact and consequences. CCP call it the butterfly effect, I call it darn cool.
The curious thing about this sort of gaming environment though is that suddenly it’s not just about navigating pixels and hitting numbers on the keypad but also about the real relationships between players. As in real life, players can use and abuse relationships to further the gains of themselves or their corporation. War goes beyond in-game combat in EVE too and stretches into political slander and smear campaigns across the Internet designed to affect the emotions of the people behind the avatars. This mix of the gaming world and reality is arguably the stuff of true, and unforgiving, roleplay.
For instance, when I read Kirith’s article I was fascinated by the concept that a player decided to spend an entire year infiltrating an enemy alliance, slowly working their way up the ranks, navigating themselves into a position of power all with a cunning and calculating hidden agenda in the back of their mind along the way. It’s quite stunning really and, to me, it seems almost mind blowing that someone could sacrifice playing with their old friends and fake relationships with new ones all in the name of a greater good. It all makes me wonder – at what point do people stop ‘playing’ and just act themselves?
I guess the answer to that question is that it never stops, or at least not for some people, and that’s both a scary and exciting thing about EVE. The game blends and infuses the emotions and actions of the player with that of their avatar. In WoW or any traditional MMORPG, we can pretty much take at face value the actions of our guild mates and comrades in arms but in EVE, what a player says to you in group chat or even over a microphone could all just be part of their insidious master plan. That’s a tough thing to stomach I suppose, especially if one is used to other MMOs, but it does carry a certain appeal to me because, in many ways, it creates the ultimate immersive experience which you just can’t get anywhere else.