Syp has been angsty about the “gank culture” of EVE Online this week. He started on Twitter.
Then he turned that into a post on Massively OP where he declared EVE Online to have a “gankbox” culture.
I had to go look up “gankbox,” as this was a new term to me. According to Massively OP:
Gankboxes are sandboxes that place such an emphasis on unrestricted free-for-all PvP that ganking comes to dominate the entire game, to the detriment of the rest of the world design.
As somebody coming up on eleven years of playing the game, that does not describe EVE Online to me at all. New Eden is not a place of unrestricted, free-for-all PvP. Sure, out in the wilds of null sec space or in wormholes you can shoot at other players without consequence, but in low security and high security space, where Neville Smit tells me most of New Eden plays, there certainly are restrictions on PvP.
In low sec you have guns on gates and stations that will shoot at people who initiate combat, there are suspect timers and kill rights that make people who shoot you vulnerable to attack even in high sec space, and the whole security status system that can make travel to high sec a dicey proposition if you sec status gets too low.
And that is low sec space, which hosts faction warfare, where people are alleged to be shooting each other all the time.
In high sec space, CONCORD lands on you and blows up your ship if you just start shooting at other people, something that I would call a pretty serious restriction on PvP. Somebody has to declare war on you to shoot you without restriction in high sec, and they can’t do that if you’re still in an NPC corporation.
Which, of course, isn’t to say that people don’t get blown up in high sec space. It happens all the time. I’ve been on both ends of that. I have been blown up traveling the space lanes of high sec. And I have helped blow other people up as part of Burn Jita and Burn Amarr in the past.
And suicide ganking is a thing in high sec space every day. But it has restrictions and it can be avoided with some care. People engage in it as a for-profit venture, so simply making sure it isn’t profitable to gank you goes a long way to making your journey a success. You can start by getting the hell away from Jita. As the center of commerce in New Eden, it attracts all the bad elements, so the further you go from it, the quieter and safer things tend to become.
But the term “gankbox” seems completely off base. Ganking does not dominate the game. I live in Delve, PvP barely dominates the game. We mostly mine, shoot NPCs, build things, and sell them to each other, as the monthly economic report demonstrates.
I will cop to EVE Online have a bad reputation however. It has provided some cringe worthy moments in gaming. And even I called out the game’s reputation as one of the top five problems I feel the game has.
But a reputation isn’t reality, it is a perception. You aren’t going to get ganked and scammed by Goons the moment you undock into the tutorial in your noob ship. Syp couldn’t have “looked” and the gank culture, because it doesn’t exist as he describes it. He just let one aspect of the game’s reputation color his point of view.
Sure, people get blown up and get mad, as in this classic Reddit post. But you’ll note two things in that thread. The first is the pilot’s disregard for security status, and thus his own safety. Second is that down in the comments he eventually says he is over his moment of frustration. Life in New Eden, and on Reddit, where flaws get magnified 100x.
For all of that though, I will predict that Syp wouldn’t like EVE Online. He seemed to get a bit flustered by RuneScape, which at least follows some recognizable MMORPG conventions. EVE is just plain right-angles to reality confusing if you’re coming from other games in the genre.
Back to my top five problems post, the game’s name, age, and reputation stop people from playing, but it is the the user interface, the complexity of gear, and (my bonus item) the horrible, mis-used, and sometimes arcane terminology common within the game are much more likely to be a real issue than the game’s reputation.
EVE Online is a place where veterans of the game learn about features by accident all the time. I saw this gem just the other day. I don’t have to undock to tinker with overview settings. Who knew? For a new user it can be confusing as hell. And that doesn’t even get into the sandbox nature of the game where, once you’re done with the tutorial, the game leaves you to figure out what you want to do.
All of which is me picking on Syp, which he probably doesn’t deserve. But I would like to see him try the game and reject it for one of it many real flaws rather than running away due to a flaw he thinks it might have. (Also, his posts on Massively OP about EVE might use the games terminology correctly more often.)
When I think of ganking and annoying player behavior, my mind always goes to WoW. I have experienced a lot more direct bad user behavior in Azeroth than in New Eden. But I play EVE and not WoW currently.
To round back to the post topic, do you think EVE Online is a “gankbox” or not?