Eveotorial: The Idea of Eve

Right off the bat I'd like to state for the record that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a 'Trekkie' or a 'Trekker' or anything even remotely like someone who might be considered a fan of Star Trek. This despite my overwhelming geek cred, the record of which I would argue with anyone. You'd lose, so don't try to argue with me. Point being, Star Trek has not been a big part of my life, I've never dressed up as a character, or been to one of the conventions. However, I do own the entire original series on DVD and the Wrath of Khan, the only previous film in the series that I consider watchable. I can quote dialogue from the series and I have always liked the IDEA of Star Trek. I hated the Next Generation and virtually every episode of every series since then that carried the name, even though a few episodes here and there showed some promise. This is where I stand on Star Trek.  And yes, I really, really enjoyed the new movie.  Can't wait to see what they do with it next.

I am a huge science fiction fan and I've always wanted Star Trek to succeed. Mostly because I liked the 
IDEA of Star Trek. There is that phrase again, I even made it bold so you'd notice it. The "idea" of Star Trek... what is that exactly? It is something that even the original series, while it came as close as possible, never really captured in its totality. That is one of the reasons why the show failed when it originally aired and only became successful later on, on reruns and over time. The idea persisted and grew. The idea became bigger than the material it was spawned from. The idea of Star Trek became its draw, based on more than was actually ever there. This isn't a unique phenomenon, it happens all the time with cult movies, genre films and shows, musical artists, and others. The idea of the concept, the material, the experience, becomes much more than is really actually there. The idea becomes the reality.

Star Trek's idea, while different for everyone, is really based on several factors. First of all the entire concept is a positive one, the universe of ST is based on a hopeful outlook of the future. This is great and different from much of science fiction in films and television. It isn't unique in the genre, but we don't often get that and it makes you feel good, optimistic and uplifted. Emotions which are good and empowering. That's one thing. The next thing that is unique to Star Trek is the chemistry of the players involved. (Perhaps Firefly came the closest to capturing this, but it wasn't given enough time to develop.) Whatever led to the original casting of Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty and the other main cast members was... well, perfect. The chemistry that group of actors, dominated by males, managed to create is unique to ST. And when I say "unique" please note that I mean within the genre of television shows that were cancelled, became popular in reruns and turned into a multi-billion dollar franchise of films and spin-off television series. It isn't a very crowded genre.

But it is an extremely powerful force. So powerful that a few words can evoke tremendous and powerful emotions. So powerful that they have exceeded iconic stature within our popular cultural psyche and become entrenched within the shared gestalt. Ok, maybe that is a bit overplayed, but you get the general idea. Star Trek was never really all that great, moments of greatness surrounded by meh, blah, and lots of talking, bad effects, bad dialogue, kids flying starships and holo-deck tomfoolery. That's because the idea of Star Trek isn't the ideals of Star Trek. They have to live together, the chemistry was missing. It was like trying to recreate a laboratory mistake that resulted in the creation of lead turning into gold, you kept getting close, but you could just never really get it to work again.

I bring all of this up because the IDEA of Star Trek is very similar in my mind to the IDEA of Eve.  Certainly not in any of the uptopian positive human-nature wins in the end ideals, but in the concept of the IDEA being bigger than the reality.  It is a concept that is hard to convey, hence the prolonged prologue above about Star Trek.  I figure most of my readers have at least a passing knowledge of that series.  I wanted you to think about the idea more than the reality.

I find it interesting that one of our recruitment questions in Lucifer's Hammer is often, "Is Eve a good game or not?"  The expected answer is of course not, no way.  As many of you already know from experience Eve is a terrible game, it is absolutely horrible as a game, which is a good thing since it isn't a game.  Many new players enter the universe of Eve with 'game' expectations and rapidly find this out for themselves.  It is one of the biggest reasons why CCP continues to add more and more 'gaming' expansions to the universe.  Why missions, excursions, anomalies and other npc driven content continues to flourish.  The point is to make Eve more friendly to those whose primary driver is gaming related.

For the rest of us, we know better.  And still we stay.  Why?  Because the idea of Eve, the larger picture stuff we've built up in our heads (or perhaps more importantly in our hearts), is more powerful than the reality.  And I can prove it.

Have you ever wondered why someone who has been playing Eve for years can suddenly quit?  Suddenly find something so horrendously wrong with Eve that they rage and disappear?  We've gone through cycles where this happens more often than others, such as early last Summer, but it happens all the time.  I'm sure you know a player that it has happened to.  The reason is because of the IDEA, the big one, is an emotional connection.  It isn't based on anything practical, hell Eve is a beast that will destroy practicality.  (How many hours do you play?)  No the IDEA of Eve is based primarily on emotions and emotional connections are based solely on internally manifested expectations, each person has his or her own personal vision or ideal state in which Eve exists for themselves.  We each expect different things from our investment based on our own internally generated idea of what makes Eve important to us.  Now, when something happens that brings the reality of the situation in front of that idea, and not behind it where it belongs, we are left with shattered ideas about Eve.  

At that moment we all have two choices.  We quit and say goodbye to the Eve universe, or we re-adjust our idea of Eve and plow forward.  Re-adjusting our ideas about Eve is an on-going daily event even if you aren't aware of it.

But the persistent thing about Eve is the IDEA of Eve.  The concept that it will continue, that it will improve, that the next time you undock will be the experience you dream for, that the next jump, the next order, the next encounter, whatever lies over the horizon for you personally - will match or perhaps even exceed those ideas.  It rarely happens of course.  But because we come close, because the expansions keep coming, we continue to dream the dream.

And so, over time, the IDEA of Eve exceeds the reality of Eve in any way that can ever possibly be reconciled together.  Those two things will never meet.  In fact, when they do, it is often a negative reason and not something we should ever be hoping for.  As long as the idea of Eve exceeds our personal reality, we can comfortably continue.  We can strive emotionally for a connection that will probably never happen.  The worst thing possible, is finally making the connection.  If and when that ever happens then Eve will simply become another game.

And we all know, as a 'game', Eve sucks.