My very first forays into low security space were mistakes. Being only a few months into my Eve career I mistakenly jumped into a few low sec systems, despite the warning, and got myself exploded a few times. I can still remember being confused by what was happening, why it was happening, and by what I might or might not be able to do about it. Weird feeling at the time.
My first purposeful jump into low security space happened shortly after those earlier mistaken attempts. And I wasn't alone. A few of us who were living in Piekura at the time decided to adventure into the next door system of Mara. I don't remember what we were flying because it didn't matter. We died immediately. Our ships exploded and our pods gone in a brief, but insanely confusing, few second of noise, lights, explosions, and confusion. We had jumped right into a gate camp. We died immediately.
This was almost 13 years ago now and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. These early brushes with the darker side of Eve Online helped form my desire not only to experience more and to conquer the fear associated with the darker side, but more importantly - to master the skills I would need to to become a dealer of darkness. The one doing the exploding.
I often think about those early days. When I'm out hunting under the blinking light of suspect status or the red skull of piracy. I think of those early experiences in the context of those I now hunt and what experiences with me might be like. Those Mara pirates 13 years ago never said a word to us, we exploded and woke up in our comfy Piekura stations none the wiser. We will never know, but I sometimes wonder if things might have been different had they reached out afterwards. Perhaps my own path might have been different?
These thoughts don't originate from one single episode. Over the years I could point to countless others. Both good ones and not so good ones. Every encounter presents its own version and subtle differences that go together to form the fabric of our journey. We are all influenced by random encounters and chance. Bounced from one decision to the next and never entirely in control of where those encounters might lead us. That's how things go, both in-game and out here in the real world.
But I personally believe that remembering those early days and how they forged your own path helps us keep some perspective. And possibly, at least in my case, form some empathy for the younger or less experienced players we encounter. I've spent countless hours talking with those I have engaged and defeated, or lost a fight with, afterwards. Especially those younger players. My conversation requests are often blocked or denied, and I understand that reflex as well. But, for those that do decide to talk, I try to share some wisdom or advice on what happened. In rare cases I may even send them some iskies or help to replace the ship they lost.
All of us in Stay Frosty do this to one degree or another. And I do encourage it. But I must admit that after a decade of doing so I have my own doubts regarding how effective it might be. But despite those doubts I often hear back from enough to keep going. And in Stay Frosty I know that many of our own recruits come from former victims or pilots we've faced in the past. So there must be some power in it. As with so many things in Eve, the true impact is beyond our ability to measure or track.
All I know is that it feels like the right thing to do. And in doing so, I'm reaching back to that very young player I once was - returning from getting my ass kicked - and instead of silence - seeing a convo request from the ass kickers.
Who knows what difference that might have made?