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    EVE Online, Offline: Meet the Geeks Living Inside an Interstellar Virtual War

    Written by

    Ezra Morris and Ben Ritter

    We'd been hearing about EVE, the massively popular multiplayer online game, for a while now, but still had hardly any idea what the hype was all about. What happens in the EVE universe? And what happens when legions of EVE players get together in real life?

    We wanted to find out. Last year, we rolled out to the EVE Fanfest at the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center in Reykjavik, Iceland, to see for ourselves. We chatted with a bunch of EVE fanatics, whose insights and profiles offer a unique case study into an equally unique user base. Here are a few of them. 

    Name withheld, Iceland
    Character: "Tyrex Thork" 
    Played since: 2003

    In EVE, there is always a home for thieves. I excel at thieving and griefing. Lately my hobby has been killing people in highly populated areas. For fun and for profit. I do it as fast as possible to try to get away before the cops arrive.

    Alex, Chicago 
    "Alex Dua"

    What appealed to me is the Sandbox experience. Everything in the game is created by the users. Everyone contributes to the Sandbox. The most fun is getting together with the guys I fly with. We talk on TeamSpeak. Sometimes we all just get on and talk about what is happening in our everyday lives. The guys we fly with are all over the States and some are in Britain.

    Alexei, Russia 
    "Ganz Benderlock"

    I’m well known in the Russia community as a dirty player. In Russia, playing EVE for real money by eBaying goods and players is very popular. I was the first of the movement in the Russian community to push for a no payment space. I wanted to create a space that was safe for new players to develop and learn the game. For growth. Not for money. Our alliance is about fun. Not about money. It is a political philosophy but it has made us a lot of enemies in Russia. Our goal is to be a democratic group.

    Elisabet Elvar, Iceland
    "Crimson Care Bear"

    I’m an entrepreneur in real life and in EVE those skills translate into the business aspects of the game.

    Silja, Iceland
    "Talia Onix"

    I love the sneaky aspect of EVE. If you have a kind name and you don’t get noticed too much then you can just steal things from people and never be noticed. I like that.

    Name withheld, California 
    "Foos Pooler"

    I play the market. I do a lot of combat. I like the plotting. If you’re tired of doing one thing then you can stop and do something totally different. You can learn new skills and move on if you want. I want to take space and have fun with people. 

    "Roc Wieler"

    Roc is kind of e-famous. I do music, I do recipes, I give fitness types. The more I become famous the more challenging it is for me to undock. People tend to want to shoot me on site. It has worked for and against. For a long time Veshta Yoshida was my nemesis. Everywhere we went we would see each other. I’d win one and she would win one. We kept track. It was like classic dogfights. I’ll never forget one of our classic fights. One on one. I was at 10% hull. It was overheat everything and go. Literally the second before my guns overheated and shut off, I watched her ship explode. My heart was pounding. My palms were sweaty. I was like “Sweet damn. That is what this game is all about.” In the long run she actually got the best of me but I don’t mind a good death. That’s what every good warrior wants.

    "Daemeon Fyral"

    I love the role playing and I do faction warfare for fun. I make everything on the ships and modules I use. My friends and I inspire camaraderie among the enemy. We helped bring them together for a common purpose. When we are destroying them one by one, they sometimes realize that they might have a chance if they band together.

    Maxwell, Ontario, California

    The more I talked to people. The more I progressed. There is always something new. Something that you haven’t seen before. My goal was to meet people. A lot of different types of people from all over the world. Sit down and have a conversation and advance what you know. Eve is a series of those defining moments. That inspire you and push you to do better. and you keep pushing to try new things that you haven’t done before. You’re always looking for the next challenge.

    Darren, Tulsa, OK

    Real life influenced me to go the route of industry. Manufacturing and invention is something I can do on the side. I’m logged-in every night. It is an addiction. If I get rich enough then I can just have another character where I can throw all my money and just do one on one battles until my heart is content.

    Jesse, Tulsa, OK
    "Galaxy Pig"

    I like to find a miner in high sec doing some Care Bear stuff and suicide him for no profit or gain just laughs. I am particularly not powerful. My goal is to be in a command position and to bask in the esteem of collective accomplishments. Maybe that’s my American philosophy coming into it.

    Anthony Rosani, New Jersey
    "Argus Sorn"

    Star Frontiers is my corporation. I had a friend who played for two years and kept trying to pull me in. After a month of playing we decided to start our own corp. It started as the seven of us. Now it is 150 or more. I have guys I have been playing with for over five years. We’ve been flying together and know each other better than some people I see everyday in real life. We’ve spent a lot of time in null sec in big power block alliances.

    Now we are looking to do our own thing and be on our own. Get back to what made the corporation fun to begin with. It has always been very welcoming to a lot of very different types of people. Mainly we like to do combat for the sake of combat. It is the art of combat. The strategy is very satisfying. A lot of the times it is the battles you lose that end up being the most memorable. the ones that go on for a long time. People do creative things. They bring in ships no one is expecting. They tr things that really surprise you. Our corp has had battles when we bring in capital ships that have kept players up for 15 minutes repping them. Using logistics. Which is great because it lets you play the hero.

    Ahro, Toronto
    "Ahro Tahntee"

    The first time I tried it on my own it was isolating and I didn’t really enjoy it. So I quit. Then I came back again two years later to see how the game progressed and I still didn’t enjoy it. The third time I tried it I decided that I had been doing it wrong. I decided that I was going to join a player corporation. I’m going to become involved with these people and I’m going to immerse myself in the culture that the game provided. I made the friends in Star Frontiers that I still have today. I lucked out. These guys are fantastic. It is all about the fights. It is our mantra: Small ships, small gangs, lots of damage. We like to be deceptive. It’s that sucker punch. There have been so many fights in so many systems. We had a close knit group of pilots that have a common goal and a really good idea. We have spent so much time talking to each other on comms that whenever we show up at Fanfest, we are asking each other about our wives, about our jobs, about our kids. They’re real, true friends even if I might only get to see them once a year.

    Alex, UK

    A friend of mine got me into the game and I was flying around with people I knew in real life. I didn’t take it that seriously. But then you join a corp, you join an alliance and then you start flying with people you don’t know in real life. You start to meet people by Talking to them over TeamSpeak. You build relationships. Then you come to Fanfest and get to meet them in real life. And you do feel a connection when you finally meet in person because you know them so well from flying with them, day after day, week after week. Then you wander around asking if anyone is in your alliance or knows anyone from there.

    I’ve been playing for seven years. There are benchmarks in your EVE career. Taking over systems that sort of thing. But the other side of EVE is coming home after a day’s work and chatting with people. Getting to know them. Meeting people in the virtual sense rather than real life. I like flying around with people I know shooting other people I don’t know in the face. Anyone that starts playing EVE you have that one fight and they’re trying to kill you and the only option you have is to kill them first. You get a huge adrenaline rush. You spend your whole EVE career trying to get that rush that feels like it did the first time. Very early on you remember people that shoot you. You put their name on the list and you have this idea that you will track them down and take revenge. Of course that doesn’t really happen. Usually the list just keeps getting longer and longer.

    Ilin, Iceland
    Username withheld

    I belong to a group of people who, if you’ll excuse my language, like to fuck other people over. We scam people. Steal their money. You trick people into giving you their money. It’s fun. After being in EVE I have considered doing a lot of different kinds of scams in real life but EVE for me is an alter ego. It’s really nice to do these things in the game that you wouldn’t do normally. I’m not going to walk into a store and steal something but if it is in EVE then why not do it if you can get away with it?

    Tim, Toronto
    "Mythos Horseman"

    EVE always gives me the challenge of learning something new. My interest is space. Not spells and Harry Potter. I created my character for combat but with the lack of mission content so I got bored pretty quickly. I got into industrial stuff for my skills to train out. It is relaxing and I get to meet a lot of different people who need what I’m producing. I take care of my mom who is a double lung transplant and also has a rare muscle disease, the aspect of EVE where you can be doing two things at once is great. Industry and mining lets me take care of her and then I can check in with my operation. My long term plan is to be a better industrialist and then getting into the PvP combat.

    Steve, UK
    "Es Tyne"

    You can easily have 300 to 400 people from all over the world shooting each other, killing each other at the same time. The best aspect is the community and the way you can communicate with your teammates. It is a group of people who can become good friends, play together, have good conversations, and share similar stories. That’s what pulls me back everytime. EVE has the closest community of any online game I’ve ever played.

    After I learned the ropes I started to talk to people from all over the world and we decided that we would do things slightly different than everyone else. We banded together to create our own corporation. We wanted a good group who could communicate. EVE is the game we play, the media we use to get together, the most important thing is that we enjoy the game as we want to enjoy it. We run the corp collectively. We don’t tell people how they should play the game. In game some people get quite angry. But when you meet enemies in person, you can buy them a drink and turn a bad thing into a funny thing shared between two people who both enjoy the same thing.

    Dave, UK
    "Ed Ginny"

    Over the years EVE has become more social and less game. I’m a CEO in real life so we formed a corp as a bunch of friends. You have work, home, and EVE. Sometimes those collide. I have a bunch of employees and I want to log in to EVE a little during the day but I don’t want to be setting a bad example. What we did as part of our employment contract is we started to offer an EVE subscription to all of my employees. So everyone who works for me can play EVE if they want to. They all log in and play.

    We have this other connection now through EVE. We aren’t just connected by working together. It is a social thing. As time progresses EVE is less blowing things up and more a social medium. The memorable thing for me is the apocalyptic collapses. Just when you think the stage is set, everything is static, one thing changes and then everything. The whole universe is altered. And everyone has a hand in those kinds of events one way or another. Politically, diplomatically, or with firepower, you can have an impact.

    Jan Kastelgijn, Holland
    Username withheld

    I had some friends who gave me advice when I first started. I had a lot of support and now I am in a position to provide for newer players as they come into the game. The social aspect is what keeps me there. The game has many layers. You can play solo but it is more interesting when actively playing with other people. You should set some outrageous objective in EVE and work towards it.

    Gita, Denmark
    "Lacra May"

    I’m a pirate now. After all the politics of running a corp for six years, now all I want to do is shoot people. We’re known as nice pirates. It’s like a family. I was in an all girl pirate corp for awhile. It was an international base. Mainly US but some from Europe and also people in the service in Afghanistan or Iraq still playing the game when they could. I’ve been playing for so long but every time I go into a fight I still get an adrenalin rush. That keeps me coming back to EVE.

    Isabella, Denmark
    "Isabella 300"

    It’s a complex game. Depending on your interests there are so many ways to go. You seek that out. I’m in a powerful alliance. I really enjoy the battles but even more than that I like the power games that go on between the alliances and corporations. I have my ears everywhere and I’m always listening. When there are battles with 2000 people all shooting at each other and trying to strategize with each other for maneuvers there is an incredible flow of adrenaline.

    Something like that is hard to explain to people that have never played but I love it. Fleet combat and organizing activities in my corporation. Community building and having a hand in everything going on is what I enjoy. I like to see what is going on on all sorts of different levels. I want to be in control of something to make sure things function in the best way. I want to get deeper into the politics, the power plays. I’ve been a diplomat before, going between enemies and allies, politicking and spying. So I’m working towards that position in my current alliance. We all have our special areas where we excel.

    Victor, Toronto
    "Psychotic Sidekick"

    A friend showed me a Raven model and that drew me in. The combination of the graphics and the lore really intrigued me. It was one of the few games that you could really lose yourself in the world and become truly immersed. You can get lost in it. The variety is nice. Solo play or big fleet battles. It can be constant stress and excitement. You have to hold it together and make it through.

    Bernard, Leavenworth, KS
    "Five Finger"

    The graphics pulled me in originally and that what keeps me interested. Being at Fanfest is an opportunity to learn a lot about the game itself. I went old school and brought a notebook and pen. I’m trying to get as much information as possible and drain as many different brains for information. That way I can go home and have an even better experience with the game. I came in as a newbie and was lucky enough to start working with a corporation in a wormhole.

    But that does make you a little paranoid. In wormhole space, if you see a ship that isn’t part of your corporation then you know they are bad people. You’re constantly looking over your shoulder. I’d like to keep getting deeper and deeper and explore more and more in wormholes. Keep learning more and more about the EVE world.

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