In 1992, in the midst of the U.S. Presidential race that year, the incumbent candidate, George Bush (Sr.), attended a National Grocers Association convention. "I just took a tour through the exhibits here," he said later. "Amazed by some of the technology."
Pundits in the media responded that some of the "technology" that Bush had been amazed by were grocery store bar-code scanners and electronic signature pads. Grocery scanners had been in the U.S. mainstream for about a decade at that point, and were common, everyday items to the vast majority of Americans. But (as the pundits spun it), Bush had been in the White House as President or Vice President for 12 years by that time, and "obviously" wasn't familiar with things that were a part of daily life for most Americans. It (probably) wasn't true. Bush was (probably) very familiar with grocery store scanners. But he came off looking out of touch, and he went on to lose that election.
This story has absolutely nothing to do with The Mittani's latest column in Ten Ton Hammer. Go out and give it a read. I'll wait. It's worth your time.
You back? Good. I'm going to play the odds here and guess that the column probably confused you a little bit. A good, solid majority of you probably didn't follow what Mittens was trying to say, or perhaps came back a little bored or even insulted by it.
To explain the column, I'm going to have to describe what life is like in a fairly typical sov-holding null-sec alliance. If you're familiar with it, you can skip past the italicized section and rejoin me afterward.
You log into EVE. You're immediately signed into your alliance's API-controlled private-chat channel (or two, or three). The MOTD reminds you that signing into TeamSpeak is required when you are logged into EVE. The MOTD probably also reminds you that it would be a good idea to get into the alliance's public channel as well. You sign into TS. If you're anybody at all in your alliance, before you logged into EVE, you were also signed into Jabber, Skype, Trillian, or something similar.
You're greeted by three or four people as you get into TS. You check the API-controlled intel channel for your region. Nothing immediate seems to be going on.
So, you open up a web browser and check the alliance's API-controlled and password-protected forums. There are new posts in the fitting, war, and all-alliance sections. The new fitting post is from the alliance's war-time director, who reminds you that it is a requirement for you to fly the latest FOTM. You are required to change your skill training as needed to fly this ship, and that skill books will be provided for those that can't afford them. He's written a second post urging people (again) to train Cyno V because the alliance needs more covert-cyno capable pilots. In the all-alliance section, there are two new posts. One is a required CTA (call to action or call to arms) for Friday night. It's expected to be a six-hour operation to save another alliance's POS, and if you're logged into EVE, you'd better be there. It might be their POS, but next time it might be ours and we'll want their help.
Another post is from the alliance's finance director, reminding you that everyone has to submit either their alliance membership dues or turn in their required PI donations to the appropriate places before the end of the month. There's another post congratulating the alliance's logi pilots on their work in the latest roam, and reminding everyone that (unlike most ships) Logistics ships are being reimbursed at 100% right now.
The war forum is busy! There's six or eight new posts letting everyone know that there will be a deployment starting in a week. All pilots are required to bring at least four ships, and there are detailed lists of ships, mods, and fittings that will be required for the deployment. All command-ship capable pilots are to bring the required four ships, plus at least one command ship of the appropriate type. Logistics pilots should bring the four ships, plus at least two of those. All carrier pilots are required to have their ships fueled and travel-fit by Sunday. Expect a CTA to be called Sunday night for the first of three movement ops. If you're not a carrier pilot, you better have your ships (renamed with your pilot name) moved to your corp's Deployment hangar by Saturday afternoon at the latest. But there will be follow-on ops on Tuesday and Thursday as well for pilots that miss the first one. Deployment is expected to last a month, so do your ratting and ISK up now.
You check your corp's forum, where there is one new post. One of the Directors is asking (again) for additional recruiters. There aren't enough. You groan a bit. You were stupid enough to volunteer to help with this a few months ago, so you reluctantly check the recruiting thread. Yep, four new applications that haven't been picked up. This means reading their written application, checking their API for skills, financial history, and alts. Then you have to search for their toon name on the EVE-O forums and on the spreadsheet of PL alts that your Director gave you. Then you have to schedule a verbal interview on TS, and arrange an up-down vote of the Directors on the apps... it's a lot of work. When you joined, you had no idea that screening was this extensive... And if they get accepted, then you have to mentor them through all of the API traps to get on the forums, TS, intel channels, help them get their stuff moved...
As you're reading, TeamSpeak gets busier. Seems that a neutral gang is moving into the region. You check the region's intel channel. Yep, there they are, being tracked as they get closer to where you're docked. One of the alliance's more junior FCs cuts through the chatter. "They're coming our way. Everyone get undocked in a shield BC and meet on the out-gate. C'mon, guys, get out here and let's get some kills. Everyone get undocked. Undock right now! Why are there 24 people in Local and only three people on this gate?"
You groan again, quietly sign out of TS and log out of EVE. League of Legends sounds like more fun tonight anyway...
A lot of you are probably wryly laughing and nodding as you read this story. But I'll bet a lot more of you are probably staring at the screen in just a little bit of horror, or maybe congratulating yourself for never joining a null-sec alliance. ;-) I'm playing the odds here because most of you aren't in one. After all, 88% of EVE's characters don't reside in null-sec space.
This stuff is a lot of the reason that when Yahtzee's Zero Punctuation reviewed EVE so negatively, one of his comments was "I must be missing the appeal of a second job you have to pay for!" Because for residents of sov-holding null-sec alliances, that's exactly what EVE is: it's a recreation of George Orwell's novel 1984, with you in the Winston Smith role. You follow orders! You do what you're told! You yell in rage at Eurasia, because Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia!
Boiled down, Mittens's column basically asks, "If in a typical futuristic science fiction setting, every man can be his own God, why is that not the case in EVE Online?" He spends a lot of time in the column talking about the Stalinist authority that EVE players bow to, and even indirectly invokes a book that a communications expert wrote in the 80s that (among other things) compares 1984 and Brave New World. The picture he paints is of bleak 1984 totalitarianism, objectivist scum destroying all that do not share their world-view, and those too scared to submit pushed away from EVE to other games.
There's only one tiny tiny tiny problem with this: 88% of EVE's characters don't live this way.
88% of EVE players are their own authorities. Granted, a lot of those characters are alts for null-sec dwellers, but the large majority of EVE's players have nothing to do with Mittens's 1984 totalitarian world-view of EVE. That's why his column is probably confusing to a lot of you. And those of you that aren't confused are insulted, because the column refers to the other 88% of EVE's populations as "stupid", "victims", or "dupes".
Yes! He refers to the people that aren't living in 1984 totalitarianism as "stupid", "victims", or "dupes"!
Kind of amusing, if you think about it...