My relationship with EVE is an unusual one it seems. But perhaps there are some for whom it will be familiar.

EVE and I have what is increasingly feeling like a struggling marriage. When we first met a decade ago, I was completely entranced by everything she was; I thought she was beautiful, deep and infinitely inspiring. She seemed very aware of this and was happy to oblige me my every internet spaceship desire. I met a lot of her friends and found much reason to be content. I didn’t mind that she was a crack whore with a viscous streak, it made her all the more unique. It created an intoxicating cocktail of danger and promise.

As time passed I started blogging about my time with EVE and for several years this seemed like a natural evolution of the relationship.Increasingly, I found I chose my in-game activities based on what I enjoyed writing about. As well as continuing my scattershot bloggery on Freebooted, I wrote and produced an EVE audio fiction series (available on iTunes), contributed to a number of podcasts, inherited Crazy Kinux’s Blog Banters, penned Incarna: The Text Adventure and took part in various other projects. I was living a kind of science fiction writer’s nirvana.

However, some time in the last year, I’ve been feeling differently. The passion has cooled. I no longer spend much time playing EVE as I’m too busy writing about it. I was fortunate to gain a position as Guild Launch’s EVE correspondent where I write a monthly Exploring EVE Online column. This month I discussed the player-developer relationship against the backdrop of the recent Veto EVE meet in London (more on that later). I’ve also recently had the opportunity to contribute to EON Magazine and I wait to read the next issue with eager anticipation.

Why So Quiet Stan?

Lately, my enthusiasm seems to have almost entirely transferred over to the act of writing, both in the EVE world and elsewhere. The spaceship portion of my EVE experience has certainly taken a back seat. Recent events in real life had a profound impact on this, particularly the pregnancy of my wife, the end of my paramedic career due to back injury and, to a degree, the death of Sean ‘Vile Rat’ Smith. For different reasons, these events tugged at me to turn my attentions away from an MMO experience to things of more real value. This might explain why not much content has appeared on Freebooted for the past few weeks, but I’ve still been very busy behind the scenes.

I am very aware of how skills and experiences I learned in my virtual EVE relationship have directly impacted on how I interact with real world problems. The illusion of influence created by my participation in the EVE universe perhaps gave me ideas above my station in the real world. Nonetheless, concerned with the quiet deterioration of the UK’s emergency ambulance services, I applied EVE metagaming blogger mentality to the problem and as a result, I’ve managed to get my concerns published in a number of newspapers, both national and regional, have spoken with a number of key figures and have played a part in getting the ball rolling on what I desperately hope will be changes that will prevent the collapse an important part of the social fabric of the world I’ll be bringing a new person into.

So as you can see, it’s been a hectic few weeks for me and sadly my EVE participation has suffered. We’ve even missed a Blog Banter, sorry about that. But now I hope things have evened out slightly and I will be endeavouring to get back to my EVE relationship (so expect a new Blog Banter sometime soon). However I’m viewing it with new eyes.

What’s My Motivation?

Hot off the back of the live event relaunch which I was honoured to be asked to play a part in promoting, I’m finding my role in the EVE universe a little challenging. I’m torn between enjoying the part I play “evangelising” EVE (Hilmar’s words from Fanfest 2011) and justifying the time and effort required to do so. I certainly appreciate the experience I’ve gained from my relationship with EVE, but I am now struggling to re-engage what had essentially become a full-time, unpaid job.

Perhaps as a result of this sense of detachment, my experience at the London pub meet was a mixed bag. It was disparate collection of communities, none of which I really felt attached to. For the most part, I wore my “proto-journalist” hat whilst researching for Exploring EVE Online: The Story Beyond the Pixels. I felt more like a service provider than a player and didn’t have the dedication to gameworld specifics that most attendees I spoke to had. I felt disconnected and a bit like a fraud. I just don’t have the time or the dedication to keep up with these hardcore spaceship enthusiasts. I was in awe of the totality of their involvement with EVE, but didn’t feel a pressing desire to engage at their level. I was very much the spectator.

Talking to CCP Unifex didn’t help much either. His resolute attitude toward almost exclusively promoting the more hardcore aspects of EVE gameplay and supporting the most dedicated communities made me feel like my approach to EVE was too casual to fit in. His logic is entirely understandable given that for a long period of time that same community spine felt undervalued by the pre-Incarna development direction CCP had taken. But there were definitely undertones of “my way or the highway”. Perhaps I need to accept that EVE and I are just drifting apart.

This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the pub meet. I had a chance to catch up with Richie Shoemaker of EON and Stuart at Play Sci-Fi. I met an old enemy from 2003 and had another chance to chat with some of The Bastards. I was pleased to meet Penelope Star (Tech 4 News actor/contributor) in person but sadly she snuck off too early to have a proper catch-up. I also enjoyed chatting to some other folk in the pub who knew nothing about internet spaceships, but a refreshing amount about current affairs, sport and relationships. I must have enjoyed it all because I stayed out late enough to miss my last train home.

Apologies if this blogpost has been a bit of a miserable ramble, it’s more or less just a stream of consciousness as I try to swing my mindset back around to my EVE community duties. It’s a bit like trying to psyche yourself up to do some DIY whilst my wife EVE is out mugging pedestrians with her friends. In the back of my mind, I’m starting to wonder if we even need another set of shelves. I’ve never seen her even pick up a book.

Anyway, about that Blog Banter, watch this space…