06 June 2015

The Guardian: “Eve Online: how a virtual world went to the edge of apocalypse and back”

Eve’s narrative appeal has little to do with formal authorship. It is constantly evolving, but not in the same way as other so-called massively multiplayer online games, such as World of Warcraft, where new stories are added by a collective of scriptwriters. Eve’s story is written and steered by the actions of its players, whose individual and collective dramas play out and intersect week by week. People do not play Eve to “win”. There is no way of “completing” the game and no set, overarching goal. Once you’re a virtual millionaire and own the most powerful ship in the game, Eve becomes a game about social interaction and self-made goals. This gives the game its distinctive power.

One story, above all, illustrates this power. At 5am on 18 April 2005, a character known as Mirial, the CEO of Ubiqua Seraph, one of the largest corporations in the game, warped into the Haras solar system, flanked by her most trusted lieutenant. It was a moment for which the members of the Guiding Hand Social Club, a corporation of spies founded by Istvaan Shogaatsu, had long been waiting. A code word went out across the Shogaatsu’s chat channels: “Nicole”. Within an hour Mirial was dead.

Simon Parkin

Fascinating story! While I haven’t played myself, Eve seems to come close to an ideal virtual reality, creating a parallel world where people can be themselves in a whole new way. I can’t help but think that, as the Internet expands to more and more people, this type of interaction will become commonplace and – as it’s happened in Eve’s story already – will reflect back to the ‘real’ world. But here also lies the danger of these new artificial worlds: that we will find them sufficient to satisfy our need for exploration, thus neglecting the vast (and dangerous!) space around us.

Eve Online
The virtual reality game Eve Online. Photograph: Eve Online

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