So, I blew up a hauler yesterday. I had been looking for a quiet route to highsec and found a C2 with an Itty V and a Mammoth intermittently appearing on Dscan. I fired core probes and found their High sec static and in the process gave my presence away. But the 2 haulers kept jumping in and out of the static WH right in front of my nose. I hold still, we don’t want to tick off the neighbors since we need the route ourselves.
But then it gets silly.
The Mammoth jumps back in and has struggle aligning, very slowly turns his boat. He is 20km away from me and I am in a bomber. There are only so many temptations I can fight and so I lock him and let torpedoes fly. He is outside my scram range and I burn to him, we sit nose to nose right on the hole and I shoot him point blank. Any minute I expect some Proteus to uncloak and vaporize my bomber. I mean, who runs an operation like that without a bodyguard on the only vulnerable spot of the route? But his shields melt like he has no tank, his armor evaporates and I don’t even notice his structure before he blows up. I let the pod go and salvage what I can from the wreck, then shoot it, resume orbit at the WH and cloak up.
Post Torpedo Depression
Where others would cheer, I actually feel quite bad about this. I fly back to my home hole, log out and start cleaning my kitchen – yes it disturbed me that much….
I know hardcore PvP guys laugh at this, goons revel in “tears” and EVE is a dark and dangerous place blah, blah, blah. My target was doing something incredibly stupid – hauler relay without any backup, did not jump back out of the hole into high sec when he had the chance, did not turn on his Invulnerability Field and only flew with one warp stabilizer. He deserved to be taught a lesson, yes? So, I know all of this. Why do I still feel I clubbed a baby seal and ripped the pelt off its bleeding carcass?
Whilst scrubbing the sink it slowly dawned on me that my remorse is the product of my own conditioning, my own focus on creating enjoyment in other player’s lives. To this end, I occasionally rant, rave and philosophize about the interactions between real people through the medium of a game.
The Sphere of Influence
I define my “sphere of influence” as a mental bubble containing all people whose lives I touch in some way. In-game, this includes my corp, alliance and the dozens of recruits I have been chatting with. And of course the hauler in my cross hairs whose life I can touch by pressing F1. So far, this bubble defines my ability to influence others, but not the quality of my interaction. I conditioned myself to be a community builder and hence focus 99% of my energy on increasing other’s enjoyment of the game. I have a real hard time with evoking a negative gaming experience on whoever drove that hauler.
While weird, this definition should be commendable, no? I mean, spreading happiness around is a good thing? Well, not quite. It has to do with group dynamics and my error lay in the extension of my group over other groups without rationale.
Pressure makes diamonds from charcoal
Groups form only under outside pressure and with internal cohesion. All religions invented some form of “Hell” as an outside force to strengthen the bonds within their community. This is such a basic human trait that of course it is found in online games and EVE Online is no exception. We form corporations and Alliances under duress to protect each other from others who are outside. My error in judgment is that as recruiter for my corp and alliance, I deal with the “outside” all the time. My “sphere of influence” reaches beyond the group that I try to build and protect.
But in order for my group to work, there needs to be an equal and opposite force threatening it. We need enemies in order to have friends. And by extension, for the helpless hauler I blew up, I was the outside force that helps to strengthen his group. He will remember this day where he should have asked his corp mates for help scouting and protecting for him.
I started writing this right after I blew up the hauler (and cleaned the kitchen). I wanted to come to terms with my internal conflict between building a community and making someone else’s life miserable. On the basis of group dynamics, they are inseparable. People need to have the threat of negative experiences in order to value the positive ones. If my bubble really includes all EVE players (and beyond, of course), I did the community a favor by blowing up that hauler.