Tomorrow, September 21st, will mark seven years since I undocked for the very first time in Todaki and began my journey in Eve Online.
I'm struggling a bit with what to say. I've started and deleted several times already. How to encompass all that has happened in those years? Not only in-game but out of game, here in these pages, in the community, and out here in the real world? Maybe, just maybe, it is an impossible task. Perhaps I shouldn't try. I should be clever and find a new approach to help illuminate the impossible.
I still remember that very first day. My oldest, who at the time was only fourteen years old, called me to his room to show me something on his computer. The first thing I saw was a Rookie ship floating inside a station, gently rocking back and forth. "This is a game called Eve Online, I just signed up for a free trial," he explained. I sat down next to him, "What does it do?" I asked. He proceeded to undock his new Rookie ship and the universe opened up right there on his computer screen. "It's an MMO, thousands of star systems, hundreds of spaceships, you can pretty much do whatever you want." I watched for a few brief moments and then started asking questions. We both did. He had only downloaded it a few moments before. About ten minutes later I knew all I needed to know, it worked on the Mac, the company that made it was based in Iceland (which would give me the inspiration for my character name), and it didn't cost much to play. I raced downstairs to my studio, the same place I'm sitting right now writing these words, and download it myself. Rixx Javix, named for the Capital of Iceland, was born.
I hadn't read anything about Eve before that moment. I was aware of MMOs, but had never played one. I had grown up playing video games, from Pong all the way up on just about every platform imaginable. So gaming wasn't new to me. But I had never seen anything like Eve. From the moment I saw that ship floating in station, I knew it was something I needed to be doing. I had no other plans, or even the merest hint, of anything else when I started.
And here I am, seven years later. Eve has seen me thru some devastating and life-changing events. Eve has, in many ways, become an integral part of my every day life. Intertwined in ways I could not have imagined back then on day one. I've traveled to Iceland for Fanfest, my wife plays alongside me now, I'm creating artwork in partnership with CCP, and I've made friends with hundreds perhaps thousands of fellow players in this great community of ours. All of which has happened rather by accident. I never started with any plans, and I certainly never intended for it to become what it has become. All I ever wanted was to play the game, explore the universe, and become as good at it as I could.
And yet, here we are. I am Super Fan. I have written millions of words about Eve. I've created hundreds and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pieces of art based on Eve. Hundreds of Alliance logos, Podcast logos, Banners, Blog Headers, Twitter Hats and Frills, the list goes on and on. And in so doing I have probably talked with and interacted directly with more players from across the vast expanse of Eve than anyone else. I've created and produced over fifteen different player events in-game. My wife and I are planning to start a real world player event next year. We will be going back to Fanfest this year. There is not a region or a place in New Eden that I have not been, except Thera, I still haven't been there. I've been in 16 different Corporations and numerous Alliances. Over two years ago I started a small pirate group called Stay Frosty that has grown to over 200 players strong and founded A Band Apart alliance that currently has nearly 600 players and recently participated in its first Alliance Tournament.
Ok, catch my breath time. I promised myself I wouldn't start listing things. It is difficult to write an anniversary post without looking back and wondering over the path you've taken. But where is this all going?
I honestly don't know. I have ideas and I have plans, I always do. But I couldn't tell you where things are headed for certain. I'd like to see Stay Frosty and ABA continue to thrive and eventually dominate New Eden in one way or another. Exactly what that means we will have to wait and see. I'm excited about where things are going. Eve is better now than ever, and in many important ways I am too.
It might shock you to know that for almost the entire past seven years I've been struggling with severe depression. I lost the business I had started and ran successfully for eleven years back in 2012. I'm still, ten years later, knee deep in one of the worst divorces you can imagine. I'm happily re-married and my wife is incredible, supportive and amazing. She even recently started playing Eve with me. But these past few years have been difficult. Trying to find my way professionally after the loss of my agency has been a struggle. My oldest, who introduced me to Eve seven years ago, ran off and got married instead of going to college. I haven't heard from him in over a year. And there isn't a month that goes by when we don't worry about how we will manage to keep our home.
And trust me, that is only the barest of scratches on the surface. But things are turning around little by little. And the future is a little bit brighter. We forge ahead each day with new determination. In all of those challenges, Eve has remained an illuminating bright-spot. A constant in a sea of uncertainty. The place where it doesn't matter, where you can die and try again, fail and succeed all at the same time. Where I find strength and courage and inspiration every single day.
I play Eve, write about Eve, draw pictures about Eve, run corporations and alliances in Eve, and do all the things I do in Eve for survival. Eve keeps me sane. It keeps me away from the abyss, from the edge, and lets me explore life in ways that I could not have dreamed of. And Eve has opened my eyes to new possibilities in ways I could not have imagined.
It remains so much more than just a game to me. Seven years into this journey and I can no longer separate Eve from real life. They are one and the same.
I feel like an explorer that has been wandering the vast desert for the past seven years, and now I'm rising up into the mountains, looking back briefly to see my tracks far below me in the sand. What a journey that was. But I'm still alive. Still kicking. Still banging my head against some mad bugger's wall. It didn't kill me.
It only made me stronger.
PS: Having read over this again, it sounded kind of depressing. I didn't mean for it to come out that way. In fact it isn't, the story is an extremely positive and uplifting one. That is how I intended it. Life is a challenging place to be and I have always pushed hard at boundaries and my own personal limits, both personally and professionally. I took a huge chance once in my career, quit my job and planted my own flag. It went insanely well for over a decade before it fell apart, both personally and professionally. But I wouldn't change a moment. Even though the end turned out to be devastating in many ways, it also burned my former life into ashes. Now I'm just tying to build a new one. And it is going very well, despite the former's annoying habit of trying to kill me.