“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon.” - Dr. Seuss
by Tyler Mangrum
- The Capitol Hill Times -
“Patience, patience, patience. You need it. If you’re looking for instant gratification, you’re not gonna get it. It’s that long-term plotting and building. But it pays off. It takes years to be a badass, but once you are, it’s the most intense, high-stakes, and rewarding combat experience in gaming.”
This is the warning that Zach Goist, a web designer in Seattle, has for anyone about to venture into the largest single-server game in the world: EVE Online, a massively-multiplayer online game that puts players in the middle of a galaxy containing over 7,500 star systems. It’s a game that allows freedom more than any other, and for that reason, it has attracted tens of thousands of players since its inception.
Now, with the gaming convention PAX right around the corner, some of those fans will meet outside of the convention center at Capitol Hill’s Raygun Lounge on August 29, to trade war stories, plot corporate takeovers, and share the experiences that make their game more akin to real-life than any other.
“It’s almost beyond a game in many ways,” Goist said. “EVE is massive, very complete, and so consistent. Everyone is in the same place, and since it’s so complex, it’s almost a virtual world. More so than any other game.”
In the ten years since EVE first launched, its players have had a bigger role in shaping how it operates than any other online game. The virtual world of EVE is replete with just about every aspect of real life that you can imagine, the cornerstone of which is an in-game economy that is almost entirely player-run. Some players spend hours mining materials, which are then sold to manufacturers to build new ships and components. Others spend their days trading commodities across the galaxy to find the cheapest deals that are then sold at a profit in other systems.
“It’s the only game to employ an economist to help run their markets,” Goist said. “And it’s the only game that has a legitimate currency that has an actual exchange rate to U.S. dollars. Some people make a living playing this.”
Then, there’s the combat. With much of the game’s territory left to be controlled entirely by player-made corporations and alliances, some forego the aspects that mirror real life and instead go for full-on combat. A few choose to become criminals and establish elaborate heists of convoys or pirate ships that stray too far into low-security territory that may leave them with bounties larger than the wallets of most first-year players.
Others engage in the largest battles ever seen in online gaming, including a 4,000-player battle between two of the largest alliances in the game, CFC and TEST, which led to the destruction of approximately 2,900 ships and $20,000 worth of losses for one side alone. As a rule, combat requires planning and cunning, and when it happens, it’s a heart pounding, adrenaline-fueled moment of terror. The loss of a ship which may have taken months to afford is about as soul-crushing as losing a car, and sometimes just as expensive.
“It’s as cut-throat and high stakes as the real world, maybe even more so,” Goist said. “Unless you know them in the real world, you cannot trust anybody. One guy spent a year working his way up a corporation before robbing them blind. That’s one of the reasons I’m excited to meet other players at Raygun. When there’s a face to put to a character, and it’s someone I’ve had some drinks with, I would put so much more trust in that person.”
Although the idea of networking in a video game may sound ludicrous to some, there is more to the idea of meeting together at Raygun than simply sizing up other players and hopefully finding people who won’t rob you blind. Something about this game inspires a sort of camaraderie that is non-existent and your average console FPS. Friendships can be forged between people halfway across the world, so much so that EVE’s creators, CCP Games, annually throw a party in Reykjavik, Iceland for players to come together and spend some time outside of the cockpit of their internet spaceship.
“EVE players are the kind of people that would sit down and get beers with each other even if you’re going to have vicious combat with each other online,” Goist said. “They have a higher level of maturity and intelligence than the stereotypical 12-year old playing Call of Duty and yelling profanities. And unlike PAX, which is definitely a ‘by companies, for gamers’ experience where they’re basically trying to sell you something, everyone at this is there for reason: to talk about why internet spaceships are serious business.”
Gamma Ray Games
501 E. Pine St.