Monday, 9 February 2015

Universal Narrative

Another war dec finds me flying around from A to B in a stealth bomber that I just trained for and planning to buy my first Ishtar. It's an unusual level to be flying at with 42m skillpoints, or close to 7 years in the game.

Other players have different goals to me. They enjoy the rush of PVP more than I do, or the power trip that comes from skilling up for a capital ship and being the biggest fish in the (rather large) small pond. Others just enjoy the graphics, mechanics or the social interaction. For me these things are all very appealing, but something else about EVE Online appeals to me more: the unique sense of narrative.

Narrative is powerful. It's how we understand the whole universe. As a student of creative writing, I've made it my job to understand the different narratives being presented to us - not just in fictional works but in the media, politics, etc. We fit all the pieces of these different things together into coherent narratives to make sense of them; we even do it to things where it might not make sense, like the behaviour of our co-workers, the weather, our own plans for the future...

EVE, more than other games, allows us to shape a narrative in very special ways. That's what sets it apart from other MMOs, what has kept me coming back to EVE after bouts of Minecraft, Civ IV, Zelda and Borderlands. "Player Created Content" is the watchword in this sandbox.

Does that mean I should head out to nullsec, play the politics and sovereignty game, where grand narratives of empires and colonization (without the negative consequences to indigenous peoples) are written by players every day? Mebbe I will at some point. I certainly listen to enough podcasts to do so.

But one of the main reasons I'm writing this blog is to point out that there are narratives in EVE, even for high-sec care bears. Every succesful hauling trip to Jita is a narrative of cat-and-mouse (and every unsucessful one a bad horror story). Every succesful fleet op - or even the slow, patient game of growing your wealth - it's all narrative. And we have our own grand narratives, too - wars between Marmite and CODE., the fights over highsec POCOs. There is content to be found, even for the carebears.

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