Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Eating From the Poison Vine

Sugar Kyle recently wrote a post about a quiet decision she made a year ago to eschew PvP. Within it, she explained that she stopped PvPing because she was confronted by someone during her second CSM run who argued that she was inactive because she had nothing on her killboard. In response, she decided to walk away from PvP for two reasons: first to spite the person who was trying to judge her by her killboard, and secondly as a challenge to herself to bring value without PvPing.

Now, let’s first talk about the idiocy of someone arguing that a person is inactive because their killboard is empty. Absence of proof is not proof of absence, and an empty killboard says nothing about a person’s level of activity, only the number of people they’ve killed or been killed by. Sugar never passed herself off as a PvP expert or exclusively a PvP candidate.

I was called out by Gevlon recently in an attempt to say that my killboard somehow discredited me as a legitimate voice about PvP.  It was a silly argument easily overcome (alts, limited time to play, preference for non-bulk PvP, preference against linked or scouted multi-boxing, etc.).

I found her experience was an interesting case study, not for her level of PvP activity nor the foolishness of Eve players.

At first, I was surprised and a little appalled at the idea that a person would allow someone else to give up something they enjoyed out of spite.  “Cutting off your nose to spite your face” came to mind.  I’ve always been an advocate of the German philosophers like Nietzsche specifically because they argue that the passion that drives you should always be from within.  They argue that a person should always impose their will on others; never allow others to impose their will on them. This struck me as if she was consciously denying herself something she enjoyed in reaction to an idiot antagonizing her.

But that’s an easy – and wrong – lesson to take from her experience. As she writes, it becomes clear that the things she enjoyed about PvP weren’t essential to PvP; they were social and interactive.  Sure, PvP has that aspect, but clearly she’s filled her Eve time with content she enjoys much more.  And that, in the end, is the height of exerting her will and finding her own path through Eve.

And that’s a remarkably inspirational thing.

I’ve written before how I’ve seen a lot of players experiencing a lot of tension and discomfort.  They aren’t happy with their experiences lately, and they’re increasingly considering leaving the game.  To me, I don’t see this as them starting to turn away from what Eve offers; it’s them becoming aware of their own discontent with their corporation, their alliance, or their activities in game. Put simply, their subconsciously ready for a change, but they aren’t aware of it yet.

I don’t fear upheaval. I don’t fear players expressing rage, passion, hatred, or anger about Eve. I don’t fear people screaming and arguing and offending each other. That’s all a sign of engagement and love of the game. Sure, some of it is hostile or not ideal, but it’s all borne of that fire that burns within us.

I fear people being too ignorant of themselves to recognize when they need to make a change to find an environment and activities that suit them. I fear people stubbornly staying in a situation that they don’t enjoy and believing that experience is all Eve offers.

Those players leave the game. What makes me sad is that in most cases, they leave because they close themselves off to the options. Those losses are entirely preventable.

I’ve heard a lot of people saying they don’t enjoy being in the CFC, but all their friends are there. They’re staying in a bad situation that leads to unsubbing and reduced engagement because they’re afraid to make a change. But at some point, you have to decide whether you’d rather unsub with all your friends, or continue playing and make new friends.

On this blog, I advocate the joys of a kind of PvP that seeks to challenge yourself and improve your own abilities. Killboards are a way of tracking, remembering, and gauging how far you’ve come. But in the end, we all decide to play Eve because of how we feel, what we get out of it, and how much pleasure we derive. It’s an intensely personal experience.

That’s one way of playing. But it’s certainly not the only way. There may not be a single “right” way to play Eve, but there is a “wrong” way: to continue playing Eve in a way that is at odds with your own desires and passions. In the real world, that dissonance causes psychoses and despair. In Eve, it creates former players.

Too many people live “Eve lives” of “quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them”, unfulfilled and unsung. Don’t be one of them.

Anyways, those are my thoughts. I thought that, rather than inflict such a long “comment” on her blog, I’d just put them here.


  1. I learned a long time ago that you can't confidentially judge a persons PVP status/skills by looking at their kill board. I'm primarily a PVPer, but if you look at this characters kill board you might judge me as just average or below average. However, if I were to list all five of my PVP characters you'd probably come to a different conclusion. I have characters that not even my best friends know about. Sometime - most of the time actually - I just want to be inconspicuous. My friends don't even know I'm logged in.

    1. That's smart. Watchlisting is a terrible thing. Fortunately, few spend the time to watchlist me since I'm not a hotdropper, famous FC, or a real threat to their space assets by myself. It helps!

  2. I guess it depends on the corp that you are in. I find myself back in a corp that I left a good few months ago, they went from null sec to WH space and I didn’t like WH space so I left, even now I am back I am not convinced of WH space (the lack of alliance bookmarks is a massive bugbear) but I am enjoying it more than I thought.

    The I tried a good number of corps in the period that I was gone and none really matched this one that I had left (I had been there several years), but I don’t think it was them, I think it was me, I always compared back to this corp.

    They pretty much let you do what you want, so any experience you want to try in EvE you can do in this corp and I got the impression from most of the other corps that I went to allowed the same, it was my closed mindness that prevented that.

    So the person that is unhappy in CFC, why is he unhappy, what would make him happy and can he not do what makes him happy in the place he is now?

    1. The challenge I've seen is that a lot of players like the easy isk and relative safety of CFC space, but are struggling with the lack of PvP content. When they base out of coalition space, the have to either rely on wormholes (inconsistent, high-effort) or travel several dozen jumps to reach an enemy. If they base out of another area, they're there with only a portion of the membership. And in all cases, they still have the spectre of "You're part of a coalition that will just blob us, we're not interested in fighting you."

      So, the CFC is great if you need isk. It's terrible if you want a constant PvP fix. Plus, where are most of the targets? The CFC... and you can't shoot them when you're a member.

      Since I've left, I've had the comfort of, "Well, if I'm bored I can always go up north and kill some folks." That's absent when you ARE those "folks".

  3. That is why I was honest that I did it out of spite for a while. I'm far from perfect. I'm often reactive. Sometimes, I indulge myself in being immature. In something like my PvP activity, it was about me.

    But then I grew curious. And it become more of an experiment. It is one that comes with a hefty amount of exterior value judgement as well. You noticed that I've contemplated my 'worth' many times over the last year. This is only another part of that.

  4. Interesting points. I can see where it sometimes seems more socially acceptable to quit the entire game than to quit a group of players that you have history with or identify with in some way. It could be worse if you've always made fun of people for doing something (mining, missions, highsec generally) and now might be feeling an attraction to those things.

    I think we'd all live better lives, both in Eve and outside, if people were just a little more willing to admit they were wrong or even that their preferences can change over time.

    1. The beauty of Eve is that you can roll another toon and no one would know yet I bet there are people out there who won't let themselves do it.

    2. You are right... I am Tur and Tur is me. My toons are IMPORTANT to me. They are not gloves or masks I out on and take off... they are, for lack of a better description, 'real' to me. Or at least virtually important to me, as with Tur.

      I have made a few alts... and I have always felt a little weird flying on them. Like I can't relate to 'being' someone other than who "I" am.

      I don't role play on Tur... I AM Tur. He is my virtual representation of ME in New Eden.