About a week ago I had decided that I was going to take a break from Eve Online. Eve is an amazing game, it truly is. They have managed to balance risk verses reward in such a way that the potential loss of your in game ships can cause an adrenaline high like I haven’t experienced since raiding in EverQuest. The reality that if you explode in Eve you have just lost a substantial amount of your play hours, stacked on top of the fact that the ability to purchase game time with in game currency gives you an ability to figure out a real world value, combines to create the most exhilarating experience that a game has to offer. When you undock, no matter where you are, you could lose your ship. There is no “safe” space in Eve.
When I started playing Eve I was going to school for my bachelors degree in accounting and since Eve’s real-as-you-can-get economy offered the perfect place to apply my accounting skills as I learned them, I started a mining company. I hired other miners, paid out a decent percentage of profit (such that they made more money mining for me, than mining alone) and then proceeded to apply as many accounting principals to the game as I could. I tracked payroll, manufacturing, expenses, even tried to work in depletion in some aspects (something that is difficult to simulate in Eve). There is no doubt in my mind that as a result of Eve, I have a far better grip on double entry accounting and managerial accounting principals than I would have otherwise.
After spending four years running this mining/manufacturing business I had built everything from ammunition to capital ships. At one point in my Eve career I was running 9 accounts, each with three characters that had some sort of role to play in my operation. My play time was absurd to say the least.
In 2012 a group of guys including my son, and myself, started Lockheed Nighthawk. Lockheed was named after the bomber obviously, and was a reflection of our intended play style. Never let them see it coming. Lockheed came about when a wormhole group was refusing to allow us to mine in their worm space without charging us an arm and a leg. We had grown tired of worrying about pvpers all the time, and were intending to move out of industry and into combat. The hunted, would become the hunters. I spent a month working on ship fits to figure out what we would fly. The main priority of the corporation at the time was to lose no ships. It seems like a common goal among people, but for us, this was the end all for a long time. If we couldn’t win an engagement, we wouldn’t take it.
The ship I built had one primary focus: Survive. The secondary objectives were kill, and flexibility. The ship was never designed to kill as an individual ship and the idea was to only engage what we wanted, when we wanted, only after we had the intel we wanted. This way we knew we could control the battle field. We were a group that was used to floating in ice and asteroid belts for 12-14 hours at a time, floating while we gathered intel on a target would not be a problem. And if everything went wrong, we had an escape plan. Most would likely expect that we flew stealth bombers, but instead we flew Tengu’s. And the Tengu was fit as a 100mn but set up for cloak resulting in it’s dps being cut in half of what it’s potential could have been. A firm believer in not losing ships, I wanted to have the better fit ships if we faced pilots of equal skill. Each build would cost 1.3-1.5 billion isk. At the start, with 5 pilots, we built 7 ships. Having this much money invested meant the fight or flight results had full effect on every engagement. Can you say, “Adrenaline high?”
When I rolled out the first example of the ship it was laughed at by guys with much more pvp experience than I had. I was what was known as an “EFT Warrior.” I was excellent at building ships on paper, but had absolutely no engagement experience. I spent over a week toward the end of that month, tweaking the build and engaging the more “experienced” guys in the group while they flew various types of ships. Frigs, cruisers, battleships, capital ships, etc. My role was not to kill them, but to be able to control the engagement to such a level that I could escape when needed. The design was intended to kill with four to one odds, not one to one. When I had effectively stifled most of the smack talk, and would have harvested a few more kills out of them than even I expected, the ship became the fleets mainstay. To date, 3 years later, the only one of these ships we have lost was because of a computer glitch. As the pilot tried to disengage, and was about to hit warp, his computer crashed. The disconnect meant that his resists and afterburner shut down and the rats in the wormhole site we had engaged in killed him. The rest of us chose to safely disengage. As I write this I have two combat pilots. One is 128 kills and 5 losses, the other is 57 kills and 6 losses. The second of which was never really intended to be a combat pilot and most of the losses on both toons are a result of high sec ganks when I was a miner, stupid crap, or ganking in HS after concord started getting credit for killing you.
When we rolled out on the initial camp it was on that group of guys that refused to let us mine their wormhole ore. Yep, we had camped a guy in there for a month while we trained, figured out a ship, and practiced flying it. In that time I also sold off a majority of my assets from industry putting close to 50 billion isk into my wallet with another 30 billion in assets still scattered around New Eden. We fit up an Orca with a 10 second warp fit, loaded it up with ammo, spare fittings for changing the Tengus up a little, tossed a couple bombers, and another Tengu in the ship maintenance array, and then jumped 8 pilots (including support and eyes) and about 10 billion isk (roughly 571 US Dollars based on PLEX prices at the time) in assets into the first target wormhole.
Our goal was simple. Cost them isk. We didn’t care if it was by killing their ships, or if it was just that they could not make isk. As an industry pilot, with an accounting background, I understood expenses. And with two large POSs running in system, they were looking at close to half to three quarters of a billion isk in fuel per month at the time. If we could harm their production, it was good enough. We harvested a few kills from there, and kept them from running sites, until they finally had to move their entire alliance in. At this point rather than stick around and risk a mistake (we were really green) we moved in a scan alt so we could come back later, and we jumped out the wormhole leading to another target.
Cost them isk, or ability to make isk, remained the mainstay of our goal over the next several years. Stop fuel shipments, run their sites, warp to everything and make it leave, kill the industry backbone. Anything we could do to make it not worth being in the wormhole. Most people enjoy good pvp, and we did too, but more than that we enjoyed being effective against larger groups of people without losses.
So Why Leave the Game
The game has stayed the same over the years, with most of the crew splitting up and finding other things to do. We’d move a few guys into a hole, camp, kill, move on. We filled our time by linking characters, to real life names and addresses, finding family pictures, and then meta gaming. While my game life was going on, something else was going on in my real life. I continued to meet with friends of mine every week for Bible study. For a long time, Bible talk is what it became. We studied less and and less and talked more and more. All good and necessary meetings, but not the same.
One of the guys pushed me a bit on several occasions that we “needed to get back into scripture.” Over the course of a few weeks, I started reading the Word regularly again. As I read, I started to realize how much my life conflicted with what I believe. This is pretty normal in “American Christianity” but I don’t want it to be normal in my life. I’d read scripture each day, and ultimately be floating over someones POS in a wormhole waiting for them to make a move that meant I could make their life more miserable in some way. And at this point, it wasn’t even hidden in revenge, or “they asked for it.” We had simply scanned down a wormhole, found out who lived there, realized that it was like 9 or more characters owned likely by one or two people, and we could easily blow them up. So we moved in.
Many people hide their bad behavior in games behind the premise “it’s only a game.” In reality, it’s more than just a game. People give up time with family in order to hang with “friends” in this game. They play the game to have fun, some people have fun doing industry and building, but many, if not most people, find their fun at the expense of others. I’d become one of those people and I didn’t like it.
Many of the people I hung around were ganking miners in high-sec simply because they could. It served no purpose other than to add 250-350 million isk to our killboard, and make the other person miserable. Harvesting tears is too often the main point of game play for people
People rave about the “Eve Online Community” talking about how tight, and how great it is. But in reality, I’ve seen and been part of a community over the last 7 years that is willing to hurt whoever they need to in order to benefit themselves. When you fly into major trade hubs you see your local chat channel full of spam from players preying on people who don’t know any better. Scamming people out of hundreds of millions, even billions of isk. What you hear the most of in Eve is not the corporations which spend extensive amounts of time training up new players to be quality contributions to Eve Online’s New Eden (are there any?), but rather the successful and insanely valuable scams, and/or thefts orchestrate by people using not only in game tactics, but out of game tools. Hours spent building websites (real life time and talent) in order to orchestrate some of the “best” cons in the game. On one occasion, one player, arguably one of the most influential players in the game at the time, suggested that people help encourage another player to commit suicide by killing his ships. The player later of course apologized and hid behind “being drunk.” However, in a video made while not drunk, the same player explains the art of “null sec warfare” and how it includes using whatever tactics are necessary to win wars which includes doing what is needed to “keep pilots from logging in.” A tactic which we ourselves used in our wormhole hunting efforts, which resulted in effectively pushing people out of places they desired to play.
Over the years the game has degraded significantly in terms of what is acceptable behavior. A simple character or corporation name search for words like “pussy” will display it’s level of foulness and to what extent CCP is allowing the game to be a “sandbox” even against it’s own naming policies. One of the biggest coalitions has been proudly named CFC (Cluster Fuck Coalition). It’s talked about in Eve Online News, on the Eve wiki, and there is simply no problem with it. But don’t you dare say something about being “gay” because that there is a ban-able offense.
Ideally I want my life to be lived in a way honoring to God, and while video games may not themselves be a problem, the playing of Eve does not serve to foster an attitude of loving my neighbor as myself, and since religion is greatly hated among most of the community you should check loving God at the login screen. Something, as I begin to study His word again, that I’m unwilling to do.
Finally, what pushed me over the edge, and transitioned my decision from “taking another break” to being “the last time I quit Eve” was this blog post by Rixx Javix, and this thread. In the blog post, Rixx, in an attempt to speak highly of the gentlemen who is now dead, and died (by the sounds of it) playing Eve Online, said the following:
Name a Pirate group and Lex probably had something to do with it. RvB, Muppet Ninjas, Tuskers, Stay Frosty, Kadavr Black Guard, Lucifer’s Hammer, and of course New Eden Renegades. Lex regularly posted on Failheap and other forums, was an incredibly gifted theory-crafter, had no patience for inept a-holes, and could PvP like a freaking madman. He was at once a nut-bag and also one of the best people I’ve known in Eve. I considered him a friend. I told him many times that Eve was not the same without him in it, and I meant it every time. It wasn’t the same. And it won’t be ever again.
The thread goes on about him and his character in game, and many RIP’s are expressed, but what stuck out to me was when Rixx said:
… It is weird losing people in Eve. I never met Lex in person. And yet I knew a lot about him. It just leaves you with a strange feeling. …
I thought about how Lex was talked about in the blog post by Rixx, and I thought about my own experience in Eve Online as I read. I started this blog post with an overlay of some of my Eve Online accomplishments, as boring as they may be for most of the people who read me, so I could make this point: At my death, would I be happy to have someone write about my life, what I wrote about my Eve accomplishments above?
In Eve Online it takes an incredible amount of time to really accomplish anything worth accomplishing. It’s one of the things that makes Eve what it is. But that single fact is also an important factor in my decision. If, as Lex is described to have been found by his girlfriend, my wife were to find me that way, what would she have? That I was a great wormhole pilot? That I built a ton of stuff in Eve Online? Whatever time I, or Lex, spent playing Eve, really is gone. It’s not time that we will look back on and go “you remember when?” I know this. I played Everquest for 8 years, and while I speak generally of the game, and how much fun it was, there are specifically two instances in 8 years, both of which total about 1 hour of game play combined, that I can clearly remember and smile about.
I am a husband, and a father of 5 and frankly Eve Online, with my permission, has robbed my family of thousands of hours of my time. It has robbed them of hundreds if not thousands of potential memories. It has robbed my wife of intimacy, and meant she has gone to bed alone more times than I care to count. But in doing all this robbing, it had me convinced that I was enjoying life more by playing the game, than I could out of the game.
Even if you “control your time” when you play Eve, or any game, you play it at the expense of something else you could do with that time. While there are many games that could be wonderful to play with friends, and can be edifying and good, for me, Eve Online is not one of them. Aside from the skills that running a mining company allowed me to get for my accounting degree, I look back on my hours and years with just about nothing but regret. I don’t want to be known as a great “pirate” or “pilot.” I want to be known as a great husband, father, and friend.
For my wife, for my children, for myself, and for God, I am quitting Eve Online for the last time.