Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Our Online Lives

My apologies to my avid readers for not updating as frequently as I’d like. Been fairly busy with RL work and friends lately.

Anyhow, I have been doing a lot of reading lately regarding the manner of online interactions, particularly in the realm of MMORPGs, as I sit at my lab bench waiting patiently for data to roll in from finicky equipment (i.e. me swearing at it and smacking its side hoping for the read-out to stop flickering). My post this time will not be directly related to my adventures in Eve - rather, it is my increasing understanding and musing about the nature of gameplay that characterizes the most infamous MMOs, such as WoW, Star War Galaxies, and Everquest.

Step back for a moment here from your game. Have you ever wondered if people truly behaved the same way online as they did in real life? The answer can range from a strong yes to a strong no, but for most people it lies somewhere in between. That said, I don’t doubt that there are a lot of stupid people who get easily scammed (Jita scams anyone?).

I have seen the worst in people that I knew, friends who used their online persona in the game to make highly defamatory and childish remarks about me – as a result, our RL friendship has been damaged beyond repair. I shall not name these acquaintances, and we had never gotten along well in real life due to personality clashes (he seems to enjoy putting me down for his own ego inflation - he has this "I-art-holier-than-thou" attitude that nobody took very well), but the mask of a computer screen seems to bring out the darkest sides in many individuals. This certain group has been griefing me about my stance on pirating, and somehow came up with a conspiracy theory that I manipulated leadership to make their lives hell.

Of course, Eve also brings out the best in some people. I have worked with maligned leaders who tirelessly worked their asses off for improving corp logistics, pvp, cohesion, funds, to the extent that they did not get sleep for 2 days in a row. In general, everyone is willing to take greater risks, make bolder statements, take on alignments (good or evil) that they would never dare to otherwise, due to the harsh consequences in our society for law-breakers. So, I can claim that our online personae are manifestations of our deeper desires and beliefs.

Eve is notorious for its scams, conspiracy, deceit. It is well-known that CCP actively does not pursue any petitions related to corp thefts or the likes, in order to encourage a more “realistic” setting. Let us examine the relation of game characters to real, breathing individuals in the world.

I have been working for almost 2 years now and have witnessed a great deal of skullduggery that goes on within the workplace, particularly in large companies and the financial industry. Managers treat employees as 'disposable assets'. Water-cooler office politics, then ass-kissing when the victim of backstabbing appears. Long hours without compensation time. Disgruntlement at management. The list goes on and on. Isn't that oh so similar to what we witness in Eve, albeit in a much more subtle and deadly form? I mean, you may have your Mothership stolen by someone you thought was trustable, or you got assassinated by a member of the Guiding Hands Social Club, or you may have been the subject of much smack in local. But can you imagine losing your source of income when you are targeted by a particularly vindictive supervisor, for example? I have seen that happen with my very own eyes - someone who had been working for 10 years got fired because his ex-boss was offended by his way of doing things. Or when a large renowned pharmaceutical firm decided to cut their operating losses by firing tens of thousands of real workers. My point is, the worst losses in Eve are nothing compared to losing your actual paycheck. Hell, without real money you can’t even play Eve!

So perhaps, our online lives are a pale reflection of what happens in reality.

People will continue playing MMORPGs. They offer much adrenaline, gratification when you kill someone or level up, and perceived social interaction. I say perceived, because most of the 'best' friends you made in Eve would not come visit you in the hospital should you get run over by a truck. As the saying goes, it's just a game. For those who live and breathe it more than they should, I understand the rush that comes from in-game accomplishments, but don’t lose your soul in them. As for myself, I will play just as people continue to watch television as a relaxing activity after a long day. Many people seem to take the game too seriously (including myself at one point - but I stopped abruptly and laughed at my silliness after reading this blog), and it is taking a toll on their real lives.

In other news: Since I won’t pay for a game that is 99% work and 1% fun, I moved to a new home with talented and eager 0.0 pvpers/FCs. It should be a nice change of scenery. I ended on a good note in my old alliance by leading an epic fight which doesn't come often in our space – I daresay that system has never seen such a blob (160+ in local) before, which explains the horrendous lag and node crashes afterwards. I am fairly proud of my achievement, as it dispelled any notion that I "comletely suck" as an FC (guess who said it), but I believe we could've fought better against that massive influx of badly fitted ships.


The Congo Sovereign said...

That was a fun fight -- it was nice to be a warp in point to Bullet.. and his raven gang - the little I could provide I was just sorry that the ceptors couldn't at least make a dent into those ravens.

good battle though.. fun.

Anonymous said...

ravens v drakes

Anonymous said...

I can't help noticing your entry was posted on April fools day :p

Anonymous said...

well i bet it makes sense now

Bri said...

speak for yourselves... =)

no the battle wasn't a fake one, but i've seen fake titan kills posted on that day.

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