EVE Online: A Non-Consensual Full Loot PVP Universe
The phrase above has been repeatedly bouncing about my cerebral cortex over the past few days. Mostly due to the realization of a simple fact about the universe of EVE Online: the phrase “Non-Consensual Full Loot PVP Universe” finds utility in explaining EVE to an outsider, but bears little semblance of meaning to the typical player who’s already in game.
The reason that meaning is so obscured is because it is so often and easily taken for granted. It is because this characterization of the world is so fundamental and intrinsic, that every activity you engage in within the confines of EVE the game is implicitly bounded by those aforementioned constraints.
In layman’s parlance, the number one rule of EVE is “never fly what you can’t afford to lose.” Again, several things are implied by that statement:
1) The player should assume at some point in the future they will aggress or be aggressed.
2) The player should assume that at some point the outcome of aggression will be a loss on their part.
3) The only factor that can considerably mitigate these circumstances is one’s accumulation of wealth to dampen the monetary consequences of such a loss.
It is the maxim of the masses, forgotten only to one’s detriment. In fact, I would go so far as to say most new player organizations in the game go to great lengths to impress this aphorism deeply into the hive-mind of their ranks before and above any other learning. And still of course, they fail in many cases.
I did not come to understand the meaning of the above phrase by reading it, nor by hearing it. Certainly there is no motto that could hope to emulate the weighty gravity of loss. The truth is that what I came to write about today is a sensibility one cannot gain vicariously. It is an instinctiveness forged deep within the crucible of our ancestry.
It is a state of being that our society punishes, that our social norms decry, and in modernity seems to only prevail within “fringe” political movements. It is embracing the ethos that in order to ensure our personal prosperity we must protect the few even to the detriment of the many.
It is to Kill or Be Killed.
It is EVE.
And it is a lesson with most impossible odds. For the EVE player it is either the first of many, or the last and only.
So what got me on this topic?
Well for starters I tried to explain the following news story and video to several people:
Not only did I really enjoy the video, but I thought it would be a simple and straightforward conversation about the depth of the EVE universe. At 120 billion in losses for the engagement, the battle cost roughly 200 PLEX. I try to then translate that into US Dollars, and I’m hoping one of these days someone will light up at the realization that $4,000 were destroyed. It never happens.
So back to the term “Non-Consensual Full Loot PVP Universe.” At first it sounds quite specific. But if anything I have come to find it is actually generic. EVE is not the first game, nor the only current game, nor probably the last game to embrace this mechanic; but it does still have one thing no other game on the market has. That gravity of loss I described before. The fact that people can and will blow up $4,000 to win a war, prove a point, or just otherwise do it.
The attachment we feel to this universe is the lifeblood that fuels conflict. I found the opposite reaction I was looking for when I described game events in real world dollars. Instead of people saying “wow, serious business!” more often I got a dull glazed over look and a “well that seems kind of stupid to throw 4 grand away in an internet spaceship fight.”
No one watches a fireworks show and counts up the dollars it cost the city with each consecutive mortar that explodes in a shimmer of light. Well maybe some accountant somewhere, so perhaps I should say no one ever enjoyed such a show under those pretenses. But this is entirely my point about EVE. It is a game for people who took their G.I. Joes out of the plastic wrap.
It turns out that 4 grand worth of internet spaceships aren’t much fun to look at.
But they are a hell of a lot of fun to blow up.