Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Point of EVE

So yesterday I was talking to a co-worker where I work. He noticed my EVE Online background I had put up instead of the standard boring blue backdrop that comes with Windows. Turns out the guy was a gamer, much to my surprise. Now, he plays mostly console games, so like all console gamers he has never heard of EVE Online.

The next few minutes were filled with us talking about games. He started to ask me questions about EVE. What was the ship on the backdrop; is that planet Saturn; what happens when you blow up; what kinds of ships; what kind of things do you do; etc etc. All questions that showed he was getting interested; questions that had definite answers any of us who have played this game for longer then five minutes can and would answer.

Eventually he got to the question I'm sure all of us who have talked to anyone about this game to people who have never played it get:

So what's the point of the game?

Now I'm not normally struck speechless for usually any reason, but I opened my mouth to answer and quickly shut it. For what felt like the next 2 minutes but in reality was probably about 20 seconds, I actually didn't know what to say.

For those of you who struggle with this question in the same way I do, I offer the following two solutions. If you don't have long to talk to this person, I suggest the simple answer:

This guy gets it
And for those of you who have time, the true answer is actually a bit more complicated. This is because EVE is complex. EVE is not Call of Duty or Gears of War. Most console gamers don't understand this. They pick up the controller and play. They are the guys with guns and they go out into the pre-spawned world and blow up the other guys with guns until the story is over. Or they hop onto multi-player in the cesspool that is Xbox Live and blow up 13 year olds with mouths that would make hardcore sailors blush.


How do you explain what the point is to a gamer who is used to have a point to the game when they play it? How do you explain the game is a freakish study in human nature and greed that doesn't have an “end”? How do you explain that at any time there are 30 thousand players from all over the world logged on in a struggle for resources? How do you explain the thousand man fleet fights over territory that isn't real? How do you explain what the point of EVE Online is? IS there a point?

Thousand of players on at one time, including these guys

When you start to think about it that way, the answer doesn't become readily apparent. In fact, the more you think about all the things you can do, the stuff you can accomplish, the way things can be done, the answer grows murkier and murkier by the minute. And not to mention the simple answer seems more appropriate.

This game isn't Halo. Although we are in the mist of Sancha Invasions, that doesn't mean that by handing Sancha Kuvakei his ass we “beat” the game. It doesn't mean that when that thousand man null sec fight is over that those guys can “rest”. It doesn't mean that after completing the epic arc do the credits “roll”. It doesn't mean that when us wormhole dwellers have ratted out the last sleeper ship from the system we are “done”.

More will be along tomorrow, if not later that day.

So I punted. The answer I finally gave him? “It depends on what you do in the game.” I further clarified that it depends not only on what you do but what you enjoy doing. A miner might only mine just to make cash to funnel to his pirate account that he uses to literally kill his competition. A ratter or mission runner might just be making money to fund his ships for the next big Null Sec fight. A wormhole dweller might be making money to stock up on Caps and PVP ships to harass others with. Or a miner might be mining just to afford the next best mining ship. Or that ratter that officer mod he's been saving for.

The interesting thing is this game is very much PVP based. No matter what career or thing you do, you are dipping into PVP at some point. Don't believe me? Consider:
  • Miners protect themselves from pirates, engage in piracy themselves or participate in market PVP
  • Obvious pirates are obviously PVP
  • Null Sec inhabitants ditto
  • My trader friends say the trade market is a whole new level of PVP
  • Industrialists are constantly trying to make things cheaper so they can undercut the other players
  • Those people (like haulers and mission runners) who are knowledgeable about avoiding PVP are participating in it all the same
  • Spy alts and hidden agents who steal billions in assets from corporations and alliances are also participating in PVP, even if they don't fire a shot.
  • Scouting other and protecting your wormhole is a form of PVP
I pretty much ignore anyone who is arrogant enough to think “Well if you don't actually participate in PVP you aren't shit in EVE” when their definition of PVP is either piracy or null sec wars. Everything you do in this game at some point has some sort of player vs player action, whether you fire a shot or not.

So perhaps the answer is not “Disregard Females, Acquire Currency” but rather “Harass Players, Acquire Currency”. After all, PVP is king in EVE.


  1. To blatantly riff on Tron: Legacy:

    What is the point of the game?
    - Survive!

  2. I like Eelis's description...

  3. Great post mate! I especially like your insight that everything in EVE comes back to PvP in some way.

  4. EVE is an absolute waste of time... Endless and narrow, unproductive, uninspiring and flat boring. I gave it 6 months time anyway... Time, which I will never get back. For all the effort and energy (not to mention money for some people) one is better off navigating the real world, and innovating work-arounds against real 'pirates'. Oh well... I'm off now to make some real money. Good luck with that ISK ! lol!