Of course, I've written about this topic before, even recently. In a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago, "Put away childish things", I said:
As CCP grows and matures as a company, and particularly if DUST 514 succeeds as I suspect it will, the company is going to have be very careful about alienating an existing customer base that has grown used to a certain CCP culture.But really, the more I think about it, the more I think I could have phrased that a little differently. I should have said that the existing customer base has grown used to a certain culture, period. The culture of current EVE Online players has become extremely entrenched.
"You are a criminal at heart and appreciate that no one in EVE exemplifies basic human decency, including game designers," says one extremely humorous view of EVE Online. And the humor in this reference contains more than a grain of truth. EVE definitely attracts a certain kind of player. That's the perception. Many of us started playing EVE after learning about things like the Guiding Hand Social Club's early theft or the disbanding of Band of Brothers, or like activities. I've written about that before.
But the perception is increasingly becoming reality, and that reality is increasingly becoming self-reinforcing.
I think the thing that prompted me to directly respond to the Blog Banter this time was the second question, though: "What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?"
Again, I've written on this topic before and I think anyone who reads my stuff knows that I'm extremely pro-DUST 514. I think it'll have a positive influence on EVE Online, CCP, and gaming in general. It has a chance to really be game-changing on a lot of levels. And sure, I'm worried about the DUST 514 tail coming to wag the EVE dog, but I think that's a much better problem to have than the alternative. The alternative is DUST 514 failing in the market-place and CCP having to bear the brunt of that failure.
As a result, it's funny to me how many EVE players have a hate on for DUST 514. Many seem to be invoking their in-game personas and hoping for DUST 514 to fail. I think a lot of EVE players, when given the question "What influence will the DUST 514 community have on EVE?" gleefully and savagely respond "What DUST 514 community?! There won't be a DUST 514 community because it's going to crater!" What impact this will have on CCP were it to come to pass, they dismiss as irrelevant. They seem to not understand nor care that hundreds of CCP employees will lose their jobs should this happen. After all, EVE itself can survive and be profitable without those people, so what of it? HTFU.
As I said, perception is increasingly becoming reality.
It's doubly funny because were these very same gamers that would be playing DUST 514 to enter EVE instead, the reaction would be different... for a while. A couple of years ago, Massively did a short bit where they checked this perception of EVE (and Darkfall) players as newbie unfriendly by playing newbie and asking a couple of basic questions of EVE's in-game community asking for help. And the EVE players, by and large, were generally helpful of these faux newbies, though (a year before Incarna)...
Because it's EVE, there was also a player who delighted in feeding us false information about how to walk around the outside of your ship, kit out your human avatar, and generally do a lot of brain-bendingly awesome stuff that the game doesn't yet support. The only real surprise here was that there weren't more like him.
But of course the friendly treatment ends the moment the newbie undocks. ;-)
EVE players have always been particularly good at dehumanizing the Other. A lot of EVE players dehumanize Goons. Most Goons dehumanize their enemies. And a lot of EVE players dehumanize any potential DUST 514 players as "console kiddies." They're practically being regarded as a common enemy by a lot of EVE players. And if EVE players can inflict loss -- particularly public loss that prompts an emotional response -- that's the best of all. As a result, I think there are a lot of EVE players that would take a savage glee in watching DUST 514 fail.
So, to answer the key question of the banter: is the perception of EVE players deserved? Oh yes, very much so. Hell, even Hilmar at Fanfest flat-out said "EVE has the best players in the world, because they get all of their badness out of them in the game." And that makes the second question of the banter almost completely irrelevant: "Should 'The Nation of EVE' be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved?" As I've already said, EVE players positively glory in the perception and I suspect most would argue that there's nothing wrong with it and nothing to improve!
One more time: perception is reality.
I'll probably have one more post on this topic in the near future, because there's another angle I want to look at this question from.