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You Can Be Almost Space Famous… April 21, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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In partial fulfillment of Blog Banter #55, which fame in EVE Online.

The specific topic statement is:

Write about somebody who is “space famous” and why you hate/admire them, somebody who isn’t space famous but you think should be or will be, or discuss space fame in general, what it means, how people end up so famous, is there a cost of being famous in EVE, and if so, is it worth the price?

That is a pretty wide net.  You can go most anywhere with that one.

Almost...

Almost…

When I proposed this topic to Kirthi Kodachi back in September (*cough*) I actually had somebody in mind to write about, with a post mentally sketched out.  And then time passed, other monthly topics were proposed, and since I never bothered to write down my notes my post disappeared to wherever thoughts and memories fade to when they are gone.  Does science know what happens to the things I forget?

Anyway, another reminder to always write things down now.  I tell myself I’ll remember, and I never do.

But here we are, my topic has been picked up for the blog banter this month, so I figured I had best have something to say about it.

EVE Online is currently involved in ones of its measures of space fame, the elections for the 9th Council of Stellar Management.  You have just one more day to vote if you are a subscriber.

CCP tries to put a lot of emphasis on the importance of the CSM, to the point that you might legitimately question why would they would trust something of value to the whims of the player base?

Players are notoriously selfish and short sighted, as customers of any business tends to be.  As Henry Ford was purported to have said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Other MMO companies have official player advocacy groups, but they have always been cherry picked by the companies involved.  Turbine has been asking people to volunteer for its DDO and LOTRO player councils but they pick who gets on. SOE has had at various points throughout its history some sort of guild council or player advisory group, always by invite only.  Blizzard has solicited the input of major raiding guilds over the years, but you had to be a major raiding guild that got their attention.

So why does CCP go with a player election?

Because they can.

Sure, there was incentive for CCP to have a player council that at least had the appearance of not being completely in their pocked in the wake of the T20 scandal. (An aspect from the origins of the CSM which turned to irony during the Ishokune Scorpions brouhaha last summer, when we saw that people who get free things from CCP are surprisingly unsympathetic to complaints from people not getting free things from CCP about other people getting free things from CCP.)

But it is the very nature of EVE Online that allows something like a player election.  The fact that the game really needs cooperation, which spawns corporations and alliances builds bonds.  That it is a sandbox where PvP is always an underlying aspect of what you do makes your fellow player content, so you tend to know them or know who to avoid.  That travel can be long, annoying, and dangerous tends to keep people focused on “their” part of space, so they get to know their neighbors.

And the very difficult nature of the game, which seems disinclined to teach you anything by the most basic skills, means that new player have to seek the advice of others… both in-game and out… just to figure out how to do things.

All of which leads to something like a community.

And I am not talking about the fractured mini-communities that spring up in a game like WoW, where you can pretty much ignore the people you do not like and live in a happy little bubble.  EVE Online is more like my neighborhood.  I know some of the neighbors well, some are good friends, some are wave-from-the-driveway acquaintances, and some are just jerks.  But they are all in my neighborhood so I make do, because I am not going to pack up my belongings, sell my house, and move to avoid a couple a block over that yells each other so loud that you can hear them with the windows closed or that guy with the circular saw that seems to think that 11pm on a weeknight is a good time to cut wood.  I have lived enough places to know that such things come with the living in any sort of community.

So, as I wrote before, when people talk about EVE Online having a horrible community, I often get the feeling that they are objecting to having a community at all.  And clearly some people like to espouse the ideal of community while being intolerant of actually having one, or having one that is anything beyond happy agreement on all points.  They don’t want any drama.  But frankly, drama is what happens when you put people together.  If you don’t have some drama, you probably don’t have a community.

And if you don’t want drama, that is fine.  Some people just want to play a game, hang with friends, and avoid all conflict.  This is recreation time, and sometimes you just want to relax.  But I am not sure you can go that route and then complain about a lack of community without looking like you don’t really know what community is.

Anyway, it is this stewpot of things that allows people to become known or famous in the EVE community.  And while there are people who are clearly infamous, I am not sure that is as cut and dried as some would make out.

The Mittani is space famous, primarily for being the leader of a large alliance in game.  You may not like him, but a lot of people do… or he would be running that alliance and accepted as the head of a coalition of alliances… so does that make him famous of infamous?

Likewise, you could make claims of fame or infamy for Gevlon.  He showed up in EVE Online and got noticed fairly quickly by injecting himself and his opinions into the community.  He rambled about doing various things, eventually deciding to become the nemesis of Goonswarm in high sec space.  I am not sure a lot of people like Gevlon… or that he cares really… but he has become a staple of the EVE community in something like a year of effort and is clearly space famous at this point.  Compare that to his years playing World of Warcraft, where I doubt he was known at all beyond a the blogging community and a small group of players on his server.  But why would he be?

In WoW you cannot really have an impact on other player if they do not want you to.  They can ignore you, move to a different zone or server or whatever.  EVE is much more like my neighborhood, for good or ill.  You get known for what you do, if you do anything at all.

And even in EVE, space fame doesn’t make you as famous as one might think.  There are always people moving into the game or who are fixated on their own little out-of-the-way corner of space who never really run across anybody else.  But the potential and ability to become space famous is one of the defining aspects of EVE Online, and all the more so because so much of what happens in the game depends on the actions of individuals which become the lore of the game.  You can become known to the community through your own efforts in a way you cannot in games like WoW or EverQuest or GuildWars 2 or whatever PvE focused game you choose name… or any randomly matched PvP game as well.

Which doesn’t make EVE Online better or worse than these other games, it just makes it different and gives it its own flavor.

Others bloggers writing about space fame in EVE Online for Blog Banter #55:

Comments»

1. SynCaine - April 21, 2014

You nailed it with the community part, and that drama is how you know you have one. Never thought of it that way, but it makes total sense.

2. Wilhelm Arcturus - April 21, 2014

I guess that is sort of the summary. I was thinking of Tobold and his claiming that there is no blogger community essentially because he doesn’t like Gevlon. (Or you, or me, or whoever disagreed with him recently.)

“If you don’t have some drama, you probably don’t have a community.”

Sounds pretty close to the Malcolm Forbes quote:

“If you have a job without any aggravations, you don’t have a job.”

I am not sure if that lends it legitimacy or not.

3. bhagpuss - April 21, 2014

How “space famous” (without the actual space, of course) would you say Fansy or Furor were? I never played on the same server as either of them but I knew who both of them were. What’s more, a decade on I could remember both their names instantly without having to google to be sure.

Also, how far do you need to extend awareness of the people around you to get a “community”? If you’re known on your server (as WvW Commanders in GW2 very definitely are), does that invalidate your community credentials because you’re completely unknown on the other 23 servers? Isn’t each server its own community, in the way that every town and city is made up of dozens or hundreds of communities, most of whom are totally ignorant of each other?

4. Wilhelm Arcturus - April 21, 2014

@Bhagpuss – Fansy was about as famous as you could get EQ-wide and beyond, and I thought about bringing him up, but he is only really famous because of what people have written about him outside of the game. Playing at the same time he was up to his hijinks, I never heard of him and nothing he could ever do would impact me. He was not at all an influence on any sense of community I felt in EQ. But I am sure he was well known in the sub-community of his PvP server.

Meanwhile, Furor strikes me as somebody who is forum famous, which is a community of its own and which often gets mistaken for a “the” community of a game. Again, after the removal of contested open world raid bosses in EQ via instancing, did he have an impact on anybody in-game?

As for servers, I think they pretty much break the idea that you can even have a game-wide community. And I think the idea of server communities has been a bit over-rated since the point where you could ignore everybody else and solo to level cap should you so desire.

Early EQ, forcing you to group, forced you to get to know other people and be nice lest your reputation follow you. Though even then, there seemed to be a Qeynos community, a Freeport community, and a Butcherblock community, at least until you reached a certain level. I was in Qeynos and those other places were full of strangers who didn’t know how to share camps the way we did in the Karanas… on my server… during my play time.

Lots of sub-communities.

Not that being able to ignore the world is a bad thing in an entertainment. That has its own appeal. But you definitely get a different community under those circumstances.

BTW, I consider myself quite bad at community. I am very much the quiet, stick to myself type. So it always surprises me how many people I know, or know of, in EVE, and how many know or remember me.

5. Liore - April 21, 2014

This is a good post and touches on a lot of things I have been thinking about lately myself. Part of a true “virtual world” with a community is that.. sometimes bad things happen to good people. And sometimes good things happen. That’s people for ya.

Now, personally I think CCP can nudge it a little far in one direction with their whole “be a villain” thing and emphasis on black hat tools, or perhaps they just do it a little much for my taste, but I think one has to accept a certain amount of drama as the price for true player interaction and community.

6. Wilhelm Arcturus - April 22, 2014

And, though I am sure nobody was wondering, I made the Space Famous/Almost Famous graphic first (titans from B-R5RB are in her glasses), which in turn made me feel the need to actually come up with something on the subject. That also drove the need to get “Almost Famous” into the title explains the awkward, nonsensical title. Go me.

7. Link Dead Radio: Community in Servers and Space | Healing the masses - April 28, 2014

[…] Eve community is writing about what being Space Famous, and while I don’t seem to read many of them at all The Ancient Gamin Noob  has a wonderful […]

8. Murray B - May 15, 2014

Companies asking players what they want may not work. The Ariel motorcycle company did that, built the “perfect” bike, and almost nobody bought it. They went out of business because of that blunder. On the other hand Sony did a lot of market research and discovered that nobody wanted a video taping machine. Akio Morita at Sony ignored what their customers said they wanted and built the machines anyway. Sony flourished.

What game companies need to do is create what players really want but do not know it yet.


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