A rough day in EVE Online

I described before that the MMORPG EVE Online has a very different dynamic from other games when it comes to social interaction.  The risks are higher and consequently, when something goes bad it can ruin the fun in the game.

We had such a day yesterday when a group of us decided to take on another group of players, was badly outgunned, out-maneuvered and out-thought.  We were not neccessarily outmanned since our team had 3 people with 4 characters on the deck and the opposition about that many but the fight did not go well.  We lost 3 ships, the others none and what started as a solid charge turned into a cluster****.

I only had character available that can fly nothing for combat operations and had the dubious pleasure to spend the minutes listening to the team talking and later watching the engagement when it came to my side of the field.  I had box seats for this disaster, stayed cloaked / invisible and saw my mates getting shot down.

Losing ships in EVE for me is like a car accident.  I know they are inevitable over the long course of playing the game but I really try to reduce my risks.  Most of the time it works, sometimes it does not.  This is, of course, personal.  Group dynamics changes everything.

If I had any combat ship available, I would have gladly joined my friends and likely lost my ships as well.  In fact, I tried to race another character there from across the universe in my most expensive ship. I was 5 minutes out when things went badly, there was no point to keep going.

A situation like this virtually demands the willingness to contribute and sacrifice when the situation turns sour.  I now suffer the EVE version of survivor’s guilt, asking myself all the questions why I did not engage and what I could have done better.

Shared experiences of success and failure cement teams.  This is not different in EVE or any other game, more so in EVE since very little can actually be accomplished by eschewing a team and playing solo.  The team yesterday has a shared experience in which I played a “cowardly” role.

I exaggerate of course.  This is not real life, this is not war, this is not a real company, a real hospital, a real research lab where actions matter for the life and well-being of real humans.  It is all make-believe and pixels on the screen.  But by game design, the dynamics in these situations are very similar than those in the real world.  In EVE more than others (EVE is real).  This is the whole appeal of these games, the simulation of a reality that we crave, the teams that we want to be part of, the feeling of success as a group.  Feeling dejected after a failure is just the other side of the coin.

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