acquired skills

I work in a technology company full of alpha type engineers who frequently disagree with each other  – today was no exception.  I walked late into a Skype design review meeting between my office mate and a colleague in a remote office.  Tempers rose over some rather fringe technical issue and personal competencies (or lack thereof) were questioned in no uncertain terms.  The situation was far too hostile for me to mediate by conventional means and all I could aim to achieve is a quick stalemate and prepare for a slow rebuilding of the relationship.  I knew that my office mate has a very short fuse and I needed to act fast or the project is in jeopardy.  I also knew that he is an avid WoW player – the poor soul – and so I muted the phone, told him to hold DPS and let me take the aggro.   My office mate shut up on the spot and let me deflect my remote colleague’s wrath as best as I could.  I am not saying that the situation is fixed but it could have gone so much worse that I had to count it as a success.

This is a slightly amusing story but it got me thinking. What skills have I learned or practiced in-game that help me in my real life.  And I don’t mean the faster reflexes from FPS games and better situational awareness borne in cloaky intel missions.  I wondered more about social skills, EVE online is after all a deeply social game.

I think I have become a lot better in listening – and not only because Teamspeak is a simplex communication system but also because I deal with people from very different backgrounds.  We have Germans, Dutch, US Americans, Swedish, Eastern Europeans, Brits, a Kiwi and even a few Scottish pilots on our small alliance.  Trying to understand the different accents, view points and attitudes has undoubtedly made me a better listener.

Humility.  As I mentioned on top of this post, I work in technology companies which are by definition arrogant and take pride in their experience, accomplishment and education.  By isolation, we loose our perspective that amazing people are found everywhere.  Some years ago  – in my WoW days – my DPS was below where I wanted to be, given my gear and experience.  A fellow hunter took me to a target dummy and worked with me through the rotation.  I added 1/3 of DPS in my first round, more with some fine tuning.  That fellow hunter was the most knowledgeable, patient, kind and attentive coach I could have ever wanted.  Later, I learned that he was about 17 years old, dropped out of high school and worked in McDonalds.   And this was not an exception.  Over the years of online gaming, I met many, many players who I would not normally meet in my daily life but are the most amazing people, incredibly smart, caring and personable – no matter what their educational, socioeconomic or geographic background may be.

Personal limits.  Its a bit hard to explain but playing EVE and having a working life collided not so long ago.  I was the recruitment guy for my corp and one of the core guys to keep the corp going.  I cared for the well-being of my corp and corp mates more than was healthy and a swift, sharp kick to the balls from my friend and alliance boss helped me back to get to reality.  I needed to step away and let a new generation of leaders run their game, coach and advise  where required but make space.

I am sure I can find more points where the virtual life impacted positively on my professional or personal life but its late, I am tired and I need to get back and see if I can firefight other problems with remote colleagues around the world.  I need a sensor damper – beer…

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11 responses to “acquired skills

  1. EVE has made me a little more relaxed and accepting. I appreciate the differences in views and experinces that come across when interacting with people from across the globe. I am also more accepting of stupidity, even my own.

    • I remember not too long ago I had left my doors unlocked on my vehicle, my wallet in the center console, the deck plate still on for the stereo system. Late night. More tired than drunk. Times that people decide they want to think, and you end up pouring thoughts instead of stories. Analytical feedback only makes people think you’re listening more. I don’t mind ignorance. It’s the carpenter that forgets his nail bag that upsets me. But back to the unfortunate loss of things (takes a long draught). I realized then, how closely I related eve to real life when I nearly laughed and exclaimed that I had been “ganked” by some rat bastard. How I found myself correlating how much I gain an hour to what was lost. The real sense of loss in Eve somehow has helped me view a few things differently in what I’m willing to trust someone with, to such petty occasions of theft. And as a blue collar worker myself, I would never presume to limit wisdom to others merely because fortune favored them differently. Some of the poorest men I’ve met, have enriched my life with 2 or 3 simple words. ‘salud’

      • Thanks Oreb, great story. With respect to loss, I recently totaled my car (someone ran a light and I T-boned him). After making sure that nobody was hurt, I realized that I genuinely didn’t care about my car. Don’t drive what you can’t lose, I guess (and keep good insurance). But I didn’t think about EVE at all – not sure if that is an attitude I brought into the game or that came out…

      • I think you are right. Though I had trouble as a young man with treating things that were minor (now that I look back they were minor) with composure, I would handle disaster with surreal calmness. I think perhaps I’m a very visual thinker. I write the same. Maybe it takes me so long to process things in my imagination, that it appears as if I’m outwardly calm. Who knows. I suppose these traits found their manifestations in Eve’s gameplay. Being very obsessed with loss as a child, I loved stories of myths and legends, which the best seemed to echo. Hm. This is all very revealing to me. Again, good post. Good writing will make you think.

    • Yeah, I agree. Life in WH puts another element to it. People from different backgrounds playing this game but we can only succeed as a team. In the end, we may disagree sometimes how things can be accomplished but the goal is the same. That attitude I have in my daily life a lot – I wonder if it came from a game. It is also the reason why I don’t think i could seriously back to WoW – in my mind, WoW is a single player game – or seen by most as such. Other players are only there to help you advance.

  2. I have a weird attitude toward all of this. For me the real world has looked like EVE online for a long time. Hard, hostile and generally out-to-get-you.

    That made me able to deal with that environment much easier than the average new player.

    Actually EVE taught me another thing: It taught me that even in the most hostile and cut-throat environment there are people who are nice. Not because they gain anything by it, not because that is how they seek to beat others, but because they just are or just like to be.

    Actually that game made me realize I could sometimes be a bit less paranoid IRL.

    • I have a very similar, but far more twisted, view of people’s mannerisms. In that someone can lie to you, rob you and pod you, while at the same time be very articulate, warm hearted – pretending all the while to possess nobility, honor, and sportsmanship. It’s like seeing an apple fall towards the sky, and oil mix with water. It reminds me of one of my favorite characters, the infamous Cugel in Jack Vance’s Eye of The Overworld. It made me laugh then, but I find it disturbing to see it en mass inside Eve. Encouraged in fact. I am very naive though, and simple hearted. It makes it that much more rare to find a white knight in Eve; something that is laughed at.

      • Interesting – I don’t think I have experienced this too much. The people I interact with in our WH alliance are genuinely good guys (and girls). We had asshats etc but they are pretty open about it, don’t fit in and leave pretty soon. The culture established itself and attracts like-minded players. In real life, I see what you describe a lot more – basically every time someone is friendly, I assume they want my wallet. Having been a salesman for quite some time has made me extremely cynical of the world around me. EVE is where I am a lot more trusting….

    • No, Mme Thalys, your paranoia in-game prevented quite a few bad apples to join our corp. Don’t be less paranoid, your tenacity in background checks keeps all of us safe. If you feel yourself slipping too far and trusting too much, lend me your Tengu and I will see if we can get some paranoia back into you 😉

  3. Good post. Definitely got me thinking. I don’t think I’m cynical enough in the game, despite knowing most of the people here will try to rob you blind if they can. Kurosawa made some contact with a neighbor yesterday, and they seemed nice. Worked out some sort of truce and they ran tons of haulers through our lowsec exit, and back in again. I jumped a Mammoth through just as they jumped an Itty 5 through on one trip.
    Next trip through, my Mammoth full of fuel was attacked by a bomber, and managed to escape back to low sec and to a station, despite them having now a Manti, Loki, and Falcon on the field. I was too trusting them at their word and previous actions, and got lucky to save the load of fuel.
    Most of the people in my world in RL though I’d trust with anything. I never lock my car doors, never remove the stereo face-plate, it just doesn’t occur to me that someone might look to steal something.

    • Ah, worlds collide, that sucks. I am as good as my word – means if I make a truce, I keep it. Thats why I don’t make them. But we had situations like that where we had mutual agreements and everyone honors it. I understand that EVE is a dark and evil place but I take my personal e-honor actually fairly seriously. Same as in RL, actually. Problem is, in game, people come with their own, perfectly legit versions of e-honor, maybe they are RP-ers and we as Gallente are evil to them. Their $15 are worth as much as mine and they have the same rights as I do. This is in some form different from RL where more of a covenant exists what is allowable and what is not.

      And yes, I lock my car, always. I don’t really trust people all that much…

      PS. Fact that they broke a truce _and_ brought an Army _and_ had you in a defenseless hauler _and still_ didnt get the kill is a little embarrassing for them, me thinks…

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