In response to a comment on my last post, a player voiced a complaint I hear often about my perspective on Eve. For context, it’s pretty clear that I deem Eve to be a social, PvP-focused game, though recently I’ve expanded that definition of PvP to include more than simply ship combat, but the various ways Eve players thwart each other’s efforts.
The reader responded by citing several stats that show that more characters focus on PvE and industry activities than PvP, that more characters live in high-sec than all the other spaces combined, and by a very large margin, and that there are simply more activities that are non-PvP related – by a wide margin – than all others combined.
Here was my response:
“I won't sit here and claim that sheer quantity isn't on your side in this. I'd just argue that quantity doesn't matter. It takes hundreds of thousands of teen and youth hockey players to distill down into 22 players for a country to compete in the Olympics. Without the multitude, you don't get to the apex.
“Ultimately, while some folks feel attacked when I claim Eve is a PvP game, or a social game, consider it from my perspective. Eve's PvE is pretty awful, compared to every other console, RPG, and MMO out there. Yet players feel the need to come into Eve and try to make it more about PvE. On the other hand, name one game that offers as pure and powerful of a PvP, Nietzschean, and relentless PvP experience as Eve? One where consequences hurt, where you can actually inflict damage on another player? Where you can exert your will to even a comparable degree?
“Why must every game be about PvE? This one was designed to be a cold, dark universe where everyone is trying to kill you. Why must we water it down and make it friendly to the casual, the "single player experience", or the protected?
“Yes, some people hate large groups, hate PvP, and don't like adrenaline shakes. I get that they're different. But why play in Eve, then, when you're told by the devs themselves that you should expect survival of the fittest, relentless brutality, and - in honor of May 4th - essentially a game populated and designed to cater to Sith.”
I ended by a simple statement that I wanted to expand on. “There is no other game for us Sith, but the Jedi among us want to make Eve another game where they feel safe.”
It is May 4th, a day in which nerds across the world celebrate Star Wars (“May the “fourth” be with you”, and all that). So allow me to give you a Star Wars comparison that highlights how I feel about Eve.
Pretend you’re a Sith. The Jedi are these sanctimonious do-gooders, arguing that everyone should act groovy and get along. They’re all about everyone playing by the rules – regardless of whether those rules are actually any good, fair, or just. The fact that they are “the rules” means they’re right. They go around the galaxy – with the support of weak governments who are interested in keeping the universe in stasis – predictable, safe, and uneventful. They want societies not to change. They want to keep paradigms the same.
When you have a Jedi who’s particularly powerful, rather than being taught to use their gifts to exert power – to create a more just world, to establish a new social order that rewards the kind – they’re taught to sublimate themselves. Don’t be too good. Don’t believe your wisdom is any greater than anyone else’s. How dare you believe you have a better idea than everyone else?
To use Nietzsche’s phraseology, the Jedi seek to mute the ability of the skilled, intelligent, and insightful with humbleness, service, and obedience. The effect is self-denial, subversion of individual will, and elevation of order and stasis over the strength, power, and rights of the individual to pursue what nature tells the individual to do – thrive, excel, grow, and acquire the means to become stronger and more vibrant.
The Jedi are, in essence, the force of order. Over time, the Jedi way becomes the way of society as a whole. It condemns those who think differently, who strive to break out and establish their own selves. It becomes the voice of one’s conscience, constantly telling you what you shouldn’t do, what you shouldn’t believe, and that you’re wrong for wanting to thrive.
But, you’re a Sith. You believe the exertion of your will is the finest activity any individual can do. You recognize that it’s sometimes messy, but that instability leads to growth, appreciation of life, betterment of yourself, and by proxy betterment of society as a result. You seek power to make yourself strong and give yourself the ability to thrive.
To thrive with that philosophy, you need to be strong. You need to be capable. As a result, you tend to look for ways to better yourself. A lot of other people don’t; they buy into the common belief that people should try to be kind, nice, and get along with others. That they should seek conformity, not exceptionalism. So, you tend to be more capable than everyone else.
You’re looking for somewhere you can build a society of your own. You find a nice planet. Let’s call it Korriban. You start to build a society focused around your ideals. You realize you need someone to build, repair, produce, and transport all the things you need for your society, so you import some folks who don’t already agree with your ideology. But not only do they accomplish all the things needed to keep any group of people functioning, but some of them have the stuff to become Sith – a natural pool of candidates.
But because the people needed to do the work and keep the basic functions of your planet running are more populous than the Sith, the Jedi start sniffing around and trying to insinuate themselves, convincing the population that because they’re more populous, they and not you should be calling the shots. They’re subverting the one planet in the universe you call home, where your ideology can take root.
Why do they do this? Maybe because they can’t tolerate the possibility that something in the universe isn’t for them. Maybe because they want everyone to acknowledge how wonderful they are. But regardless, what they’re doing is a sort of aggression, even though the rest of the universe praises them for trying to civilize Korriban. “We’re just catering to what the majority wants,” they cry. Even though this was your planet, and it exists in the first place because of what you did, what you believe, and what you sought to make manifest: a whole world where Sith ideology could run rampant, creating the excellence and unfettered freedom of will that you wanted.
From your perspective, they’re trying to destroy the one place you have, to make it just like the useless, worthless, lifeless balls of rock out there in the universe. Patterning it into stasis again, the same passionless muck they’ve created out of the rest of the universe.
You feel attacked, though no bombs have gone off. You feel invaded, though no troops have landed. And you know they’re doing it on purpose. You start to believe that your way of life depends on eliminating theirs, since that’s the only way to stop them from crushing the unique experiment you’ve created.
So, you lash out. You’ll make them pay for their arrogance, their meddling necessity to make your planet just like all their other awful, ordinariness. You rage out of Korriban and start raiding their peaceful mining operations, destroying their outposts. When they build up a military or enlist aid and destroy your fleets, you turn to more insidious methods. You infiltrate their corporations and sabotage them, turn them against each other.
But you remember. Every other planet in the universe is home to their sick, empty way of life. Only on Korriban does the vibrant, rigorous, vital Sith creed hold sway. It’s precious, and it must be defended at all costs. For, they clearly will not give up on destroying you, so you have no choice but to destroy them first.
For, my friends, just like the Sith, Eve was created to give human nature full sway, to bask in the full complement of human motivations. To drop the safeties that bound our daily lives in the real world. To create a universe in which the law, the system, and civil society will not save you. Only you can save yourself.
Why must we try to tame the unique spirit of wildness that is found nowhere else, and is core to Eve’s very nature?