Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, August 31, 2012

No place like it

Good heavens, does the latest Blog Banter make me smile.

As a communications professional, one of the things that I understand is the power of a loaded word.  In English, a "loaded" word refers to a word that of course has a specific dictionary definition, but also has an evocative, evaluative meaning that is intended to drive the reader or listener toward a specific emotional response.  A couple of examples will serve.

The words "animal" and "beast" have essentially the same definition.  But the latter word has an emotional connotation: a beast is an animal of which we disapprove.  The words "powerful" and "mighty" also have essentially the same definition.  But the latter word also has an emotional connotation: most English-speakers are trained nearly from the moment they learn the word to associate a mighty force with one that is positive and good.  The words "mighty" and "beast" are evocative, emotional words beyond their dictionary definition.  They're loaded words.

And there are few words in the English language more loaded than the word "home".  And yet that's what the latest Blog Banter is about:
"Some say a man's home is his castle. For others it is wherever they lay their hat. The concept is just as nebulous in the New Eden sandbox.

In EVE Online, what does the concept of 'home' mean to you?"
And just to pile on a little bit of irony, Freebooted comments "After a some heavy topics in the last few editions, this time we'll be taking a more relaxed trip through the thoughts of the blogosphere."  Ha!  ;-)

Needless to say, when you pick such a loaded topic you get a massive response and unsurprisingly, this banter has picked up more than 30 responses in less than a week.  But surprisingly (at least to me), virtually every response is very literal.  For nearly all of the bloggers out there, "home" is a specific station, system, region, corp, alliance, Teamspeak channel, or EVE itself.

Yes, all of those are literal responses.

Again, it gets back to the training we receive almost from birth.  "Home" is an evocative word because what it evokes is ownership, community, and belonging.  We associate the word with four constructs:
  • the physical location where we were born;
  • the physical space in which we live;
  • our family with whom we share it; and,
  • the larger racial, ethnic, or geographic community that we are a part of.
These are all powerful forces -- almost like gravity -- pulling us back to where we come from.  And indeed, the majority of humans live and die within 50 miles of their birthplace.

So it's no surprise that EVE players -- being human and all -- will naturally associate the word home with one or all of these four constructs.  The blogger that associates it with the station where their character started?  He's connecting to his character's birthplace.  The blogger that associates it with where his stuff is is evoking the place where he lives.  The blogger that says his corp is his home connects to his in-game family.  And the blogger that says "EVE Online" is his home is evoking the larger "ethnic" community.

So like I said, all of those are literal responses to the question.

But funnily enough, what nobody seems to have brought up -- and I've read virtually all of the responses so far! -- is that EVE Online and being a capsuleer is a "post-home" concept.  Immortality combined with the ability to instantly jump-clone anywhere combined with the ability to access all of one's liquid financial assets instantly anywhere in the galaxy is not a concept that is compatible with the "home" constructs.

In EVE's lore we're invited -- no, we're encouraged -- to think of our characters as near-omnipotent immortal demi-gods.  We're in eternal competition with all of the other demi-gods across all of space and time.  Within the game, the capsuleer is beyond the concept of "home."

The closest analogue I can think of is to The Matrix movies.  Stop reading here if you haven't seen them, because I'm going to thoroughly spoil them.  In those flicks, Neo might think of home as the matrix itself.  He was born there, after all.  Or he could think of the Nebuchadnezzar as home, or the apartment he shares with Trinity in Zion, or the crew of the Neb... or the entire human race.  But it's shown clearly in the movies that he doesn't think of any of those places as home and doesn't really connect with any of them.  He drifts from construct to construct... his spirit is homeless.  He's beyond these constructs.  He's post-home.

It doesn't mean he's disconnected from those people or places, or negative about them.  Far from it: he ultimately lays down his life for these constructs.

But that's more or less how I feel about EVE.  Home?  No.  Within EVE, I'm beyond these constructs.

Cute topic, and thanks to Freebooted for putting it out there.  But if you wanted something less heavy, you didn't quite succeed this time.  ;-)

20 comments:

  1. oh hey, you racked up a few points in my estimation for being on the right side of the lore. You must have trained Infomorph psychology. ;)

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  2. If home is where the heart is, I have several hearts in various locations.

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  3. Then you have W space. With that lonely POS(') serving as the hearth in a dark forest of sinisterly shifting trees shadowing paths to many places.

    W space is, I think, a good gamescape to peer into if looking for bodies who enjoy fostering a somewhat more substantive home mentality.

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  4. So your saying you have no in game friends?

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    1. So you're saying you didn't read the article?

      "Your" is possessive, "you're" is a contraction of "you" and '"are" - your sentence would make more sense with the later.

      Delete
  5. According to CCP, "home" = "CQ" (aka Captain's Quarters).

    They are also permanent, immortal, and go where you go - clothing and all.

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  6. In EVE though Jester there are 4 'homes' at least where one lays his/her head down before logging of: HI SEC,LO SEC, NULL SEC & WH SPACE.... and each of these does have further divisions but few cross substantially
    ~DarthNefarius

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  7. "Within the game, the capsuleer is beyond the concept of "home."

    Try tellingmy corpmates that :|

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  8. You say, "In EVE's lore we're invited -- no, we're encouraged -- to think of our characters as near-omnipotent immortal demi-gods... Within the game, the capsuleer is beyond the concept of "home."' Right after quoting, 'And the blogger that says "EVE Online" is his home is evoking the larger "ethnic" community.'

    Jester, aren't you contradicting yourself in saying that while a player who calls the EVE community home is part of the ethnic construct, another player who identifies with the wandering immortal demigod concept is 'beyond' the entire home construct? It seems that you are identifying with the latter, and in doing so your 'home' is indeed part of this greater 'ethnic' idea of the wandering immortal demigods. Further, your elitism in and of itself, of which this blog post reeks, is again part of what could be considered the ethnic concept of the home - the greater EVE metagame, the bittervets and bloggers and forum posters. Jon Lander himself said that EVE-O is not a game, but a social construct. By writing this blog and involving yourself very heavily in the community you are deeply invoking the ethnic concept of the home.

    Just that you may have multiple things which can traditionally be called homes does not mean that you are 'post-home.'

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    Replies
    1. are you saying Jester just engaged in a poorly worded roleplaying attempt?

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  9. Home is the next Incursion staging area for us Sansha skin hunting Nomads ofthe Caravan of The Heavens...
    ~DarthNefarius

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  10. Sounds like someone isn't entirely convinced that emotions serve any purpose but to bewilder. I suggest before trying to convince others that you're an effective communicator that you go back and read some of the OLDER literature and stop filling your head with Hollywood nonsense. People like you killed Socrates, people like you killed the question.

    I cannot communicate effectively either in a world that's fast losing vocabulary, but that's no reason for me to go around telling people to 'BEWARE THE LOADED WORD'. Will you do a piece next on intentional vs incidental use of loaded words?

    Context people, remember the fact that loaded words are only ever loaded in relation to the framework they're constructed in. Who's asking, who's answering and the time differential in reference.

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  11. I think that gameplay makes Eve 'post-home' rather than anything in the lore. You can get around, effectively, a vast amount of the game without too much effort. Feeling that there is something distant out there in contrast your friendly home constellation in hard when, maybe after a low sec jump or three, it's autopilot all the way to Jita.

    On the small scale, there's the fact that Eve has incredibly little to distinguish one system from another (something I'd love to see a proper expansion on). Even in terms of player generated content there's almost nothing - a TCU that nobody warps to, an outpost with a funny name or a pos that happens to have a nice view.

    In Eve I think there's less than usual to get people attached to, or think they're attached to, a loaction as well as their friends. I'd hate to leave my corpmates but the only thing I'd mind about moving to a new WH is the irritation of hauling everything.

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  12. Yeah, I noticed that many people have taken the "home" topic quite literally, using it to discuss their personal journey, but I was glad about that - not every banter has to be political statement wrapped in an agenda buried under Bitter-Vet syndrome. The trick is to set a topic that provides scope for both.

    I suppose what I meant by this month's topic not being as "heavy" was that it was simpler, with scope for a bit of whimsy for those who'd rather avoid an overly complex topic like last month's where I tried to combine a number of disparate elements - your "That's just the way it is" blogpost and Unifex's interview - into one question and it was a bit of a tangled "beast" as a result. But hey - as a keen communications amateur, it's a learning process for me.

    I do my best to try to put out regular and varied Blog Banter topics with the flexibility for banterers to approach it how they like. The hope is that each topic will be attractive to a slightly different demographic each month. For every communications professional with a penchant for deep thought and analysis, there's a blogger who just wants to keep it light, write some fiction, crack some funnies and so on. The topic of "home" was simpler in that there was more scope for those guys to get involved too - which is why I think this Banter has been a fairly popular one.

    On reflection, I think I was hoping for more discussion about the future of the "home" concept, we've had a couple of references to the proposed player housing/POS-revamp, but fewer than I'd expected. Once again, I retrospectively realise how the question could have been broadened to encourage a bit of speculation. Oh well, it'll keep for another month.

    In any case, I certainly appreciate your depth of analysis and your unique perspective - the human race has a lot to learn from your species. When's the invasion happening? ;)

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    1. LOL! Cute.

      And yeah, I'm still kind of kicking around the POS-as-home construct. I suspect I'll have something to say about it eventually. I will say that the notion about it that intrigues me the most was the off-hand comment that POSs might be given jump drives.

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  13. You propose an interesting perspective on 'home'. As humans impersonating nearly-godlike-immortals, we remain human, anchored to those constructs that our avatars seek to transcend.

    Adhar's offering to the banter focused more around loci of memory, rather than specific assets. That argument runs along the lines of internal meaning compared to external geography. I think it's orthogonal, actually, because for any of the three definitions above, they're really tied back to your relationships and investments in those constructs.

    So to be post-home - well, that would imply dispassionate disconnection from relationship. For those of us impersonating proto-gods, it would explain a lot of the behavior in space. ;-)

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  14. Trust Jester to be above us normal "immortals" who are not communication experts and hence saw the question how it was intended. Where in EVE do we feel comfortable, how do we bond with a pixelated representation of space and its people and what do we search for when we move our stuff around? Sure, RP may or may not abhor the idea of "home", with or without Matrix reference. But one quick search of Jester's own blog site shows 74 references to the word "home" on the first page alone (http://jestertrek.blogspot.com/search?q=Home granted, this is including the current post) and at least one discussing it in relation with pilots moving their stuff (http://jestertrek.blogspot.com/2011/11/guide-moving-to-null-sec-part-3.html) showing that the concept of home is also represented on these hallowed pages.

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  15. After reading through the upcoming "balancing" changes to frigates and destroyers, I'm thinking that I'll be moving my home to WoT.

    The dumbing down of Eve is now in full swing. CCP isn't "balancing" anything - they are completely wrecking the status quo and years of past balancing, in order to make the ships virtually identical across the races, fit for only a single predetermined role (as determined by CCP, not the players), and, overall, more boring.

    Drone frigates for each race? Tristan with 2 turrets, no launchers, and a bonus to drone TRACKING SPEED? WTF?

    I'm no longer certain as to whom the most incompetent dev at CCP might be. It really looks like CCP Fozzie and CCP Ytterbium are fighting hard for the honors, though.

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    1. This.

      My Eve friends are deserting the game, like rats deserting a sinking ship.

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