Posts Tagged ‘Psychology’

Blog Banter #54: Polarizing Express

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.

Fly bombers,


BB 47: A complex complex of Complex complexes

Is EVE too complex for one person to know everything? Is it, in fact, too complex for one person to know everything about one topic? How do you maintain any knowledge or skills related to EVE over time with breaks and expansions? Does CCP do a sufficient job documenting the features of the game, and if not, what could they do better? How does one determine where the gaps in their knowledge even are?

From <>

A glimpse into my world as a programmer...

A glimpse into my world as a programmer…

One thing I have come to learn, working in IT, is that Complexity, is almost always on an “opt-in” basis. For example, the code behind an enterprise system is very complex. Looking deeper within that code, you will find that the developer has likely created resources, used through the project, which they exposes like an API, which are even more complex. But when I write a report on the system, for management, I don’t need to explain all of the complexity to them, they opt out of that, and get by just fine without it. And indeed for me, as say a programmer working on the outer functionality of the System, I don’t need to understand the inner depths of the API I am using, so I opt out of that as well. That doesn’t mean that I don’t know the complexity is there, merely that I understand enough to avoid any pitfalls which I might find, and that I know where to go should I need to gain further knowledge on the subject.

Eve, in many ways, apes real life in a quite amazing fashion and complexity is just one example of how it does this. I believe that eve is, very complex, indeed as the BB question hints, it is too complex to know everything. Much like the management in my example before, if an everyday eve player spent their time trying to understand every minute detail of the system, they wouldn’t have any time left to make decisions based on that information. That’s why in both real life, and eve, we have specialists.

Eve is an immensely complex simulation not entirely dissimilar to Deep thought’s super computer “Earth”. Comprised of complex circuitry invisible to the naked eye, with information passing around it contained in packets which have free will. It would be impossible to comprehend everything, and anyone trying would be a fool.

So how do, or should, we keep up to date with the vital information which we need to live our everyday lives in new Eden? The answer is simple, we require several interfaces with the system each of which will trawl select aspects of the system, and pull important data from the muck. The interface will then need to process that rough nugget of information; trimming it and distilling it into a hard pure diamond of information, which it then presents to you, to instantly digest to gain the core of needed information. You need enough of these interfaces to bring you enough data nuggets to survive. What are these interfaces called? Well collectively, it’s a “community” individually, you might call some “friends” others “Blogs” and still more “Forum Posts”.

Eve is too complex to understand, but as humans we have developed a wonderful capacity to knowledge transfer. This is why, to me, you cannot play eve effectively without engaging with the community. Players who try to play eve without the community are attempting to learn everything for themselves, and as a result they are doomed to failure. Eve is complex, and that’s why it is so important that we engage in the community, to use the interfaces to learn quicker than we would as an individual.

Dunning-KrugerThis is not infallible however, as we are often exposed to micro versions of an aspect of the Dunning-Kruger effect. The issue is that the incompetent, by definition cannot comprehend their incompetency, because they lack the knowledge to define what is competent and what is not. Put simply we as humans cannot see where we lack skill, because we lack skill to recognise it. This is also why, as Jester rightly points out, we are all hanging over precipices, we can’t even see, hoping that someone else will fall down first so we might define our own ignorance. Does this mean eve is too complex? Does this mean that CCP don’t document enough, or should make eve simpler?

Categorically, I say no. I believe that such a mirror to real life is part of the wonder and excitement we experience by playing it. Yes once every so often you are going to be the person who falls down an invisible hole so everyone else learns, but we all have to learn to pick ourselves up and keep going. Furthermore we can all mitigate the likely hood of being the “Fall guy” in two ways: (to continue using the falling analogy), we are all like a person walking through an infinitely massive room, in pitch black with holes in the floor. By expanding our group, walking with more people through the darkness we are statistically less likely to be the person taking the fall. Furthermore, we can help the people closest to us to recover when they do take a fall for the group, and indeed in return we will hopefully receive that help when we take a fall for them.

In summary, yes eve is complex, no you can understand everything. No CCP shouldn’t “fix” this because it is this very factor which make the eve community so important to every player. It’s that emphasis on communication, and collective learning which enriches our community and nurtures a deep sense of camaraderie, the only thing which can offset the cold dark nature of the game we play.

Fly incompetently and proud,