EVE’s community is multifaceted and complex, so complex that it seems shallow because usually, you stick to one ‘bubble’ of the community, which floats amongst thousands of other bubbles, some of which are conjoined and connected, others that enormous, some miniscule, some inside others, which in turn have thousands of smaller bubbles inside them.
If EVE consisted of a giant bubble called “New Eden”, there would be two smaller bubbles inside that, called “Combat” and “Non-Combat”.
Inside Combat, you can get “PvP” and “PvE”. Within PvP, fleet warfare. Within fleet warfare, small gang.
That’s the bubble I’m mostly interested in right now.
Someone might point out the tenuous but very real connection non-combat activities such as manufacturing could have on small gang PvP. I agree, this bubble metaphor isn’t really apt; the human brain is a better description of it; nodes and clusters of connected and interconnected neurons, some paths strongly linked, others not as much, many still being formed and reformed. But for the sake of simplicity, we’ll stick to bubbles. Also, I like bubbles.
I enjoy experiencing every single segment of EVE; diving into every single bubble to explore the differences in each portion of the community. My main activities may take place in one but I use that base to reach out and try understand others from that perspective. I ask questions like “How can I make industry fun for pilots when the majority of the alliance is only into PvP, and those pilots will probably feel left out?” and the answers I form are based not only on the bubble I occupy but also the ones I look at from afar.
When I log on, 20 new chat logs pop up in the chat logs folder. 21 different channels, I’m in constantly. I give myself a chance to taste 4-5 more at regular intervals, but I try to keep the number I’m always in around 20. Lets subtract corp and alliance chat from the list, then channels I’m in because of the alliance (public chat, intel), That brings totally unique channels that aren’t related to each other at all to about… 13. 15 bubbles that I lurk in or chat in depending on what’s being discussed. This ranges from an incursion channel, to the EveDownUnder channel, to NPSI group chats, to public general chat rooms, and recently, Thera channels.
Then throw in the random mailing lists I’ve joined, mainly NPSI roams but also very recently, the Arek’Jaalan mailing list for in-game lore discussion.
All of this adds up to a little bit of a delay whenever I start EVE when loading all those channels, but in the end those few seconds extra I have to wait are always worth it.
EVE, more than any other game, brings a playerbase that is diverse. The question “What do you like to do in EVE?” has more answers than any other MMORPG out there. It’s obvious to me when I keep an ear out, hearing in-character discussions of the Caroline Star phenomenon at one point, and then people speculating about how the PLEX market will move due to the coming ban on input broadcasting and Recon ship changes. Hop another channel and people are talking about the optimal order to kill incursion rats, bounce into our public chat where some of our pilots are linking killmails of our recent conquests, then into a public chat channel where people are talking about what they’re having for dinner whilst they’re mining.
I sincerely wish I could somehow be a part of every single channel in EVE, be privy to every single conversation, understand them at once, and still retain my sanity. However, I won’t pretend I can even handle the 20 or so channels I reside in right now. But the range of experiences I witness through these channels every single day make me wonder just how much I am missing out on.
The important thing I took from thinking about how the community is a huge cluster of interconnected bubbles, is that each bubble has its own flavour. Each little community within the larger player community of EVE Online, is different. It seems self-explanatory when we look at it from afar but it’s so easy to impose your own knowledge as given upon every other player you meet in the game. We don’t do that in real life; when we meet someone, we ask them what they do for a living, perhaps inquire as to their education so we can converse with them at a similar level. However, we don’t play EVE to conform to typical social tedium. This leads to assumptions.
Taking a personal example, I look back at the time in an incursion channel where I was watching people talk about no fleets being up because of gankers being sighted in the area, and people fussing about how the incursion sites were in 0.5 systems. I burst in with a confused “but 0.5 is still high-sec…” to which someone responded “yes, but barely”. I laughed. Here were people with some of the most well-tanked ships in the whole game, boasting a minimum requirement of a 1600mm armour plate and 70% resists across the board, fretting about gankers coming after them. Sure, incursion runners do see their colleagues dying to Talos fleets, but it’s laughable that someone who is keeping an eye out could find themselves in any sort of danger. The only issue was travelling to the staging area, I explained. Once there, running sites with the assistance of local, acceleration gates and d-scan, as well as the fact that it was still high-sec, and that the systems all had stations, meant we would be hard-pressed to be caught. That’s not even considering the options of fighting back against gankers, some of which are bound to have killrights. Whilst they must coordinate their gank to ensure maximum DPS in the shortest amount of time, a well-oiled incursion fleet can turn on the untanked Talos’ and Catalysts by first activating killrights, or otherwise, simply tanking a ganker fleet that may be unprepared, perhaps warping in outside blaster range, or simply not bringing enough DPS to burn through well-staggered Guardian-logistics repairs.
It dawned on me as I was mentioning all this that perhaps they didn’t see the situation as I did. But of course, I chose to fly in low-sec as soon as I could. I chose the path of PvP. Some of those incursion runners didn’t, or at least not the same path I picked. The way I saw high-sec and its dangers was definitely not how they saw it. I am fast approaching my first full year of being subscribed to EVE, and I worry that the warnings I gave myself not to forget how confused and unsure I was in the beginning are going unheeded. I am gaining confidence and talking like it. I guess it makes it appear as if I’m a stuck-up know-it-all.
Similar to the way a month-old player could potentially bring a perspective of the game that a decade-old veteran had never considered before, a trader in EVE could spout economical jargon and point to lots of graphs with a PvPer, and they may as well be speaking in two different languages. It’s important to be considerate and accepting of those differences, and make the most of the varying opinions. For all you know, their bubble may have drifted over from the other side of the universe, and collided with yours for a few brief days. The last thing you want to do is to just push them away without trying to see through their eyes for just a little bit.
Hope everyone had a great Christmas. 🙂