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A Politically Correct Carebear Joins Goonswarm: Blog Banter 18

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am all about the attention whoring post titles…

Welcome to the eighteenth installment of the EVE Blog Banter , the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by none other than me, CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

On May 6th 2010, EVE Online celebrated its 7th Anniversary. Quite a milestone in MMO history, especially considering that it is one of the few virtual worlds out there to see its population continually grow year after year. For some of you who’ve been here since the very beginning, EVE has evolved quite a lot since its creation. With the expansion rolling out roughly twice a year, New Eden gets renewed and improved regularly. But, how about you the player? How has you gaming style evolved through the years or months since you’ve started playing? Have you always been a carebear, or roleplayer? Have you only focused on PvP or have you given other aspects of the game a chance – say manufacturing. Let’s hear your story!

Once upon a time in high school, I went with a group of friends to a little gaming convention in Maine. Most of us were RPG nerds, but one of our little group was also miniatures person. While I was off being introduced to this soon to be released game called “Call of Cthulhu,” he and all the other wargamers were doing this huge “Rooskies attack, it’s WWIII” thing. I still remember going to find him. We walked into a gym and I’d never seen anything like it. No tabletops, instead there were little tanks all over the floor taking up maybe a quarter of the gym. They apparently were simulating all of Germany or Europe or something. Dozens of people. But the best part was the commanders weren’t allowed in the room. They were using walkie talkies and runners to deliver orders and intelligence.

I had never seen anything like this. Oh, I’d seen plenty of miniatures. This was back in the day when gaming convention was still evenly mixed between table top D&D and wargames and computer gaming was just a curiosity. But this was something different. It was the same little tanks and soldiers, they’re always pretty, but I’d never been that interested. It was the scale. It was so enormous. It was a complexity beyond simply dungeon crawling with a group or friends or playing a game with a friend or two. It was grand. It was epic. And I really didn’t see myself playing it.

Which perfectly describes my history with Eve.

When I recently dusted off my alt Kharai, a lot of people who knew me as Numtini outside of Eve or as Kathleen Hallet in it were a bit surprised to find out I was sitting on a character from 2004. Now, of course, I haven’t actually played the game consistently since 2004, I can only wish I had those skill points. But yeah, I’ve now been dipping my toes in and out of the water for six years, even if most of it was popping in for a month or two and then dropping out.

It’s not surprising it took a while for the game to stick, Eve is just not a game that I saw being for me. When I tell people I play now, most shake their heads in shock. I had a somewhat Tobold-esque view of PVP in MMORPGs and the truth be told, other than Eve, I still have a load of skepticism about PVP in MMOs. I see “pvp” as being something for FPS (which I have no interest in or talent for) gaming. And I’d endured and quit UO in the early days when a single step outside of the city safe zone involved a dozen players appearing out of nowhere and corp por’ing you.

So when I came to Eve, I became a miner because that was the main career path for those not interested in PVP. That really set the course for me for a long time. I’d have a friend playing or read something really great about Eve that piqued my interest. I’d join up, find a mining corp or something, get bored to tears, and drift out. I tried logistics, since I could haul, and even got blown up guarding ISS’ first station egg. I tried manufacturing on my own, but found the upkeep of record keeping far too involved. I had a smattering of skills through all of them.

And I didn’t find that I had a lot in common with people. There was one corp that was just a cesspool of stupidity and offensive nonsense. I think I hit the drop rolls about an hour after joining.

Of course I didn’t try PVP because I wasn’t a PVPer.

Eventually I gave it a shot, wanting to see what I was missing. I joined NBSI Academy, the training section of what at the time was a significant if small nulsec alliance. People took things very seriously and it was extremely time consuming, but I was in one fleet battle and while we lost, this actually seemed like it might be interesting. It was actually in that fleet that I got my first “Oh Fuck! There’s a chick in our corp!.” It just wasn’t to be though. When I next logged on after the battle, there was a note bidding everyone goodbye. The battle I’d been in was rather more decisive than I’d realized. The cap fleet that jumped into a blackscreen and died was The Capfleet, and the alliance disbanded as a result.

Ouch. Clearly some higher power was telling me that Eve wasn’t the game for me.

It was years until I returned. Eve had changed greatly and I had followed, on and off, the developments, mainly through a nearly endless thread on war events on a forum I frequent. It always sounded interesting, but I’d become wary of the difference between the Eve on paper and the Eve in real life. I’d never found they matched.

It was, again, a friend playing that got me interested. They’d joined a pirate corp, all women, called the Hellcats. That caught my interest because one of the big negatives of Eve has always been the lack of other women and a generally crude and misogynist attitude. I started a new account. I didn’t want to wreck Kharai’s security status with piracy and she wasn’t very focused on combat anyway. But also, in all honesty, after five years of one month visits, I didn’t expect to even stay through the three week trial. Why pay?

I stayed the month, but not a lot longer. There was some good training there. For the first time with Eve PVP, I had a sense of what I was doing. I didn’t even know what a directional scanner was when I started, much less how to use it to narrow down what belt someone was ratting in. I even got a solo kill with a little help from some rats. What I didn’t like was hunting alone and the ‘cats had settled into kind of a lull. It still just didn’t seem like the reality matched up to the hype. I had a chance to be a dedicated main tank healer in an EQ2 guild and I took it.

Now through all of this, I’ve been part of a community that was involved in Goonswarm as a member corp. A lot of my knowledge that there was a Great Game going on in Eve came from reading the war reports they posted. But still, the goons? I was familiar of course. I’ve read Something Awful on and off for years and I took great delight in some of their antics in Second Life, such as penis bombing Ansche Chung. But their reputation preceeded them in Eve and as a progressive politically active and aware lesbian, people interested only in griefing, spamming local with racial and homophobic epithets and so on didn’t really seem that appealing.

Still, my EQ2 guild had a good run, but disbanded in the fall. I tried and burned out on LOTRO and I’d gotten fed up with WoW after it’s anonymous Dungeon Finder emerged. The goon corp I had friends in was running recruiting drive in preparation for what everyone assumed was going to be a big war. Inspired by a few drinks on a friday evening, I figured what the hell.

One friend’s comment was “I look forward to the post in which you ragequit after listening to the Goons ‘talk’ on Vent.”

Within a week, my gaming life had changed forever. I was flying in fleets, sometimes with hundreds of other pilots. I was on more killmails my first week in fleet than I’d had in my entire Eve career prior. I also felt, for the first time, like I really knew what as going on and was comfortable with what I was doing. Goonswarm’s secret weapon is how they treat newcomers. Every Ship Counts isn’t just propoganda, it’s a way of life. They may call you a moron and a spy if you ask something stupid, but they’ll also answer your question in detail, point you at documentation on the wiki, and probably give you another free rifter and a few million isk. In most corporations I’ve been part of, I really felt like I was walking on eggshells. That I was constantly on trial. In the swarm, I felt like I as free to just play and correspondingly, I was a lot more effective in the game trying to do the right thing rather than trying to avoid doing the wrong thing.

And far from ragequitting, my biggest surprise was that I spent far more time on comms laughing than being politically agitated. Far more time laughing than I have in most games. The humor may be sometimes crude, but it’s usually quite clever and very very well aimed. Yes, I’ve probably heard more racial, misogynist, and homophobic epithets since January than I did in the previous decade. I understand politically the problems with this type of “South Park humor,” but I also detect little hate or harm intended. I’ve never felt I had to leave a goon fleet because someone was spewing truly hateful racist bile that they believed, something I can’t say about my tenure in the NC where I once abandoned a fleet when some mouth breather couldn’t keep his frothing racism about President Obama out of comms.

But more than anything, the big fleets and participation in the universe changing events grabbed me. After reading about Eve for literally years and finding reality didn’t measure up, I was part of the Big Game and living what I’d previously only read about.

Unfortunately, I quickly became a victim of those events. The loss of Delve and disbanding of Goonswarm that resulted in our corp being expelled from the Alliance. But still, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. The evacuation was an event in and of itself, one as often filled with humor as dread. The vast change in our fortunes in just a few days is what makes Eve vibrant and exciting. And yes, also, occasionally quite frustrating.

From there my corp joined Mostly Harmless for a short time, an alliance which frankly, is responsible mainly for the longest period in the last decade in which I wasn’t actively gaming. (I did watch 2 seasons of Dexter and the entire Spartacus series though.)  This was very clearly a place where Internet Spaceships were Serious Business. Very Serious Business Indeed.  There was a right way and a wrong way and fitting that MWD I instead of an MWD II was simply not going to be tolerated without being called out in public. I know there are people who just love that kind of uberguild atmosphere. Who find being denigrated to be motivating. I don’t.

Apparently I wasn’t alone because a few others from my old corp in goons had started an unallied corp and most of us migrated there. I flew with them for a little while. It was good enough, but they were moving to the south as pets. As I’ve said so often, to me Eve is about the big story, and while I really liked my friends in the corp, I just couldn’t see myself flying for the South. Plus, as pets, there was no access to large fleets and there was a war on and I wanted in.

I actually resorted to the much maligned recruiting channel and Eve message board and surprisingly found a really nice group of people at Get Off My Lawn, an alliance that really deserved a whole lot more from me than they got. They are Wildly Inappropriate guests and NC guests are really a cohesive part of the NC, not just pets. You fly in the mainline fleets and have full access. I had some very exciting experiences here. I got a chance to fly against Molle’s pathetic invasion of the North, including the decisive H-W battles. Plus, LAWN had a lot of great other things going for them. Their logistics were top notch. There was always a ratting fleet around in off times which was something entirely new to me as I had never ratted in nulsec or done complexes before. And lots of corp roams. People were friendly and mature. It really was a great group of people. The concept of the alliance is older gamers, with families, jobs, and responsibilities. A place where you can simply say “I have to go now, work in the morning” and not have people freak out or ask you to say for “just five more minutes…” which everyone knows will be more than five minutes. All I can say about them is that if you’re an older gamer looking for a group of sane responsible and mature people, you will not find a better group.

But then something extraordinary happened and under the new Mittani regime, a reformed version of my old corp got the chance to get back into Goonswarm. To say that we jumped at it would be an understatement. I can’t say that it was without sorrow as well. LAWN is a great alliance and it was painful to leave and in many ways even more painful to realize that there was never any question I would jump at the chance to rejoin the swarm. Within a week we’d separated from our new homes, reformed a corp, and migrated to the South where even now I can be found participating in Goonswarm’s “Planned Parenthood” campaign.

I’ve really only had a history in Eve of perhaps 12 total months of play, but it seems like I’ve seen so many things. I can’t imagine what it’s like for some of my friends who have been here for years. More than anything what I can’t help but think about is this:  a summary of all other games I’ve ever played would best read “I subscribed, I played and advanced my character, I got bored, I subscribed to another game.” That’s not Eve. It’s not the conclusion of skills or the ships I can fly that have made up my history with Eve, it’s what I’ve seen in the greater New Eden galaxy. Being in a battle with NBSI where an alliance literally died.  The insanity of the Delve evacuation. The Battle of H-W where the recent NC invasion was turned back. The political changes that put me back in the swarm. These aren’t about what I did, they’re about what I took part in. About a world that exists for more than my personal entertainment. And that’s what makes Eve special.

I may have joined late, but I’m looking forward to the future.

The 12th Ninja: First Days in the North
Starfleet Comms: Life Evolved
Eve SOB: Learning to Swim
The Fang: Path of the Ninja
Lost in New Eden: My Eve Life So Far

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