Today’s topic comes Diaries of a Space Noob blog and other sources: Quick post. I was listening to a song and a question occurred to me. Where are the EVE heroes? Against a dark background surely all we have are anti-heroes? A lot of mockery is aimed at any who attempt to be white knights. EVE is a dark place and yet pretty much all other MMO’s try to place the player in the role of some form of hero, boosting the ego and taking the player out of the humdrum 1 in 7 billion that is RL. Why have I fitted into EVE? Did I never want to be that? So I guess my question is: Do classic heroes exist in EVE? Is such heroism even possible in EVE? How would you go about being one without opening yourself wide open to scams? Is the nature of the game so dark that heroes can’t exist? How do you deal with that irony? What effect does this have on us and the psyche of new players coming in from other MMOs? Is it something special that we don’t have classic heroes, or should we? Are our non classic heroes more genuine? And I would add to this, who have we elevated to the level of larger than life heroes ourselves in the game, and do they actually deserve it? From The Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah
Eve is Real. It’s the marketing statement (which seems to have waned a little of late) which CCP uses to tagline eve and, by comparison, CCP does have a fair point, eve apes real life far better than, say, Guild Wars II: People interact, they touch each other’s in game life and affect others as they pass. A characters progression in Eve is the result of millions of factors defined by the game, and its players, developing a unique individual story unlike any that have come before it. I believe that this is why we don’t have any of what classic video games describe as “Heroes”, real life has none either. Games such as Guild Wars and World of Warcraft tell us that the Hero is an individual who through some means or another ends up making choices and performing actions which are clearly for the greater good (The Greater Good). They can see the bigger picture and they act as they see fit to help their cause. Yet in eve, as in real life, it is never so clear cut as to what is good and what is bad. Often things which seem good now, a few months down the line can turn out to be detrimental to the greater good (The Greater Good). If you can find a person who can tell me what the greater good (The Greater Good) is, even just within eve, I will find a person who has blinkered their perception to a limited scope. I think that the same is true for real life as well.
But let’s expound the in game side of that further; Games like Guild Wars II and Warcraft, tell us a story, they show us our Character and carefully craft a story around them showing how they progress from nobody, to (what a Video Game considers a Hero. Eve on the other hand gives us a character, and asks “what is your story?”. Because of this lack of control we cannot be engineered to be Heroes which other games prescribe us, we have to make our own choices, and some will always be wrong. In Guild Wars, there is no wrong decision, things will always turn out all right, and our character (short of not playing) will always become the Hero (or at worst, the Anti-Hero). In eve we have no such omnipotence (Ironic for the “God like” capsular), and so we can never be the classic “Video Game Hero”, because they cannot exist in a world of free choice.
“But Hark”, I hear you cry,” there are Hero’s in real life, what about people like Mother Teresa? Or Gandhi? Or even War Heroes such as Thomas Lawrence? Or how about Local Heroes like Firemen and the Police!?”. And you’re right, these examples, and millions more, are Real life Heroes, nothing like their Video Game and Movie counter parts (except perhaps Lawrence, but I’ll get to that in a bit), and eve has better analogues to them, than it does to other games definitions of Heroes. Of course pacifist Heroes, Rights Heroes and Caring Heroes struggle to survive in a universe of equal, immortal war mongers, but you could draw parallels to people such as Sindel Pellion (The Angel Project), Grevlon Goblin (who is no hero to me, but again more on that in a moment), and others. You can also look to Logistics pilots (of both kinds), for the nearest equivalent of Local Heroes. But again, this is where we get to the issue of perception, which is an issue in real-life just as it is in eve.
You and me might look at someone like Arthur Harris (a.k.a Bomber Harris) and declare them a Hero. A man making tough decisions to fight the Nazi movement. Commissioning raids to defend the United Kingdom, and crucial to the War effort. Yet that perception of “Hero” comes from our own personal beliefs, feelings and social alignment. For example, I feel that Extremists (in any form) are wrong, and in a situation like World War II where Extremists attempt to subjugate they must be opposed. Therefore to me, people who stand up and fight them, are heroes. Yet if I were an extremist, say a White Supremacist, or indeed a Nazi, I would consider someone fighting against whatever my movement was, as an enemy, and not a hero.
Now most people in the free world are governed by social acceptance, and we are brought up to think in a certain way; so 99% of people would answer like I do with conviction that the Nazis were wrong, and that the Allied Forces of WWII (and their supporters back home) were heroes. But in eve, no such mass social governance is in place. If your character “Grew up” in High Sec, you might have been taught that Goonswarm are evil and should be eradicated (I will use Goonswarm a lot in this as they are a very polarising group). On the other hand if you “Grew up” within Goonswarm, reaping its generosity to newbie members you would consider them just and right.
Because within eve there is no base level of social moral code, our personal convictions are whimsy, and can be easily influenced by the current political situation and personal circumstance. A Test pilot not so long ago, would have preached praise for brother Goon, where now they would likely speak of betrayal and revenge. Because “Good” and “Evil” are dependent on where you stand, likewise, “Hero” and “War Criminal” are also based on perspective. My Heroes, are my enemies scoundrels and targets, and his mine.
Here come’s my second issue with the label of “Hero” in eve, I chose Bomber Harris as my real world example of a polarising Hero, not only because he would be considered bad from the Nazis point of view, but also because you could debate his actions from other point of view. Harris, was a proponent of “Area bombing” over “Precision bombing”, despite its higher civilian “collateral damage”. He was also a large part of the planning and execution of the Dresden Bombing, which killed more than 22,000 people, mostly civillians. Now I have my personal views on this, as every person has a right to, but the fact is that because of things like this, Bomber Harris, and many Heroes like him, have debatable status as Heroes. In eve, within the lore of the game, we as capsular are an aloof elite, killing millions, cold and uncaring of the stricken poverty and squalor bellow us, surely more than any real life analogy, no matter what we do, our characters status as “Heroes” is always going to be debatable.
So let us summarise (and welcome to all who skipped the wall of text). “Video Game Heroes” don’t exist in eve, because there is no guiding narrative to build them. Video Game Heroes, don’t exists in real life because they require the omnipotence of a predefined narrative to create them and, as with real life in eve, we define the Narrative. Because of this eve is more like Real life where Heroes are a matter of perspective, and eve’s lack of moral guidance makes perspective a far more variable thing than in real life. Furthermore because of the limitations of a Video game, the sacrifice required to become a “Real life” hero, is hard to make. Even more limiting is the fact that the game lore dictates that our characters are all, by definition, at least a shade of Evil, meaning again as an amplified effect of real life, all our Heroes morals can be called into question.