The Quafe can bounced harmlessly off the plexiglass viewport leaving a languid explosion of fluid to meander down the starfield. Eskrid quickly scooped up the container before it disgorged the remainder of its contents across the starbase command console.

She glanced nervously toward the raging Brutor man standing next to her. His sudden apoplexy had been brought on by a private communication he had just received. Despite being in his employ for less than a week, Eskrid knew better than to enquire. She returned to her post, silently yearning for the moment the capsuleer returned to his ship.

“Why di?…wha?…mhrphhfff!…” Fury overwhelmed vocabulary and the remainder of his breath was exhaled as a strangulated rasp.

Defeated, ‘Seismic’ Stanvall Roth, CEO of Greenbeard’s Freebooters, collapsed back into his chair and stared out of the viewport. Eskrid glanced around the Starbase Command Centre, but all of the other nineteen Free Boot command staff present were finding their duties particularly engrossing at that moment. Questioning her own sanity, she heard her voice offer;

“Can I help, sir?” It sounded small.

The air grew taut as Seismic Stan’s bowed head turned slowly toward her. One bloodshot eye studied her from behind a matted barrier of amniotically-congealed dreadlocks. Heart pounding, Eskrid wiped her clammy palms on her uniform and held his gaze.

He spoke, softly but with malice, “I don’t know. Can you?” She began to reply but the capsuleer hadn’t finished, “Can you run a capsuleer corporation? Can you manufacture starships? Can you analyse market trends? Can you?”

“I’m not…blessed as you are Sir. I am mortal.” Her mouth was dry, “I’m trained in starbase maintenance. I could learn more but the process would be slower.”

Seismic Stan’s head rolled back and his scowl softened. He glanced around the Command Centre thoughtfully then looked back at Eskrid. His face broke open in an unsettling grin.

“I think you overestimate me. I might be listed as the CEO, but really I’m just a recovering Vitoc addict that likes to watch things blow up. There’s more to being a capsuleer than cramming some extra circuitry in your head. Greenbeard knew that and now he’s…”

Stan’s expression changed at his own mention of the name of the corporation founder. His brow furrowed, his teeth clenched and his gaze disappeared off into the middle-distance as half-formed obscenities rumbled under his breath.

“Sir?” braved Eskrid.

Wild eyes snapped back to her. She almost startled, his contorted visage now twitching slightly.

“That bastard Greenbeard has abandoned us.”, he slavered. “Just as we’ve got this starbase up and running and his precious Freebooters are starting to find their feet, he shuts down his operations and goes planetside. Indefinitely.” His eyes darted sideways a moment, delving into his subconscious. “I’ll find him. Yes. I’ll hunt him down. Then I’ll use a Khumaak to rip his implants out through his face…” Spittle ran unchecked down his chin as his gaze returned to Eskrid once more.

The Starbase Technician felt like a rodent in the presence of a wounded predator. If this is the price of immortality, she was grateful not to have it. She watched, relieved, as stability returned to her employer’s demeanor and a decisive expression materialised on his face. Seismic Stan smiled at Eskrid, stood and strode toward the exit.

“Contact Long Jack and Karpov Katyusha. We have work to do.”

Our Health and EVE

My good friend who plays Greenbeard has left EVE. He said “It’s become too invasive.”

He cited the increase of EVE-related activites that had crept into other aspects of his life; leaving the EVE client idling at home just in case, checking Capsuleer headlines on the iPhone whilst at work or out socialising. He came to the conclusion that his association with EVE was having a negative impact on other aspects of his life. So he’s cancelled his account. At first I thought that subscription cancellation was a bit of an over-reaction. But perhaps not.

The addictive nature of all things EVE does seem to build to a critical mass. When reading other blogs it’s not uncommon to read that someone has taken a self-imposed break or that they’re suffering from ‘EVE burn-out’. It’s clearly not uncommon for players, in moments of reflection, to realise that time spent playing EVE is ultimately time wasted. Playing EVE, or indeed reading about EVE, doesn’t improve your life. It doesn’t make you healthier, it doesn’t improve your income or your living space and is not an efficient use of time. In fact, the more time spent in EVE-related activities means less interaction with the real world therefore less productivity, potentially having a negative impact on your health, home and income.

Why is EVE arguably a worse offender than any other game? I would say it’s because of what it does so well. The finely balanced game mechanics require your persistence in order to get your reward. Every aspect of the game requires a degree of constant maintenance, from ever improving skills to generating money for your PVP habit. EVE simulates responsibility in ways that make you feel obliged to log on lest you let down your corp-mates or your alliance. If that wasn’t enough, the monthly subscription is going to encourage you to make sure you get your money’s-worth.

So should we all follow Greenbeard’s example and quit EVE forever? Of course not. Not all of our time has to be productive and efficient. In fact I think experts would tell you it’s important to have hobbies, to relax and to indulge oneself. If an EVE player quits the game, will he become more productive? Or will he find other, equally unproductive things to do with his time? That depends entirely on the individual I suspect.

EVE is a demanding hobby; it requires discipline, imagination and good time management (so I’m in a lot of trouble). Clearly that discipline is exemplified by those players who can ‘take a break’, but perhaps not everyone does when they should.

I think in Greenbeard’s case, he knew the only sure fire way to resist the lure of EVE was to make the break absolute. With no active subscription, he can’t be tempted to just have a quick peek in-game or be called upon to perform corp duties.

It’s an odd hobby that can elicit these responses from it’s participants, yet still lure them back. Taking a break from EVE is healthy. It acts like a reset switch, giving you time to assess and reflect: Maybe your ‘EVE-time’ has been growing and encroaching on other aspects of your life and you should be mindful of that on your return. Perhaps something else will take EVE’s place entirely. Or perhaps you had the balance right and you can happily continue.

With this in mind I’m off on holiday for a week for some of that aforementioned assessment and reflection, I think we need a new direction. But it’s interesting to note that Greenbeard wouldn’t let us have his stuff.