This one is yet again kind of philosophical, but something that I've been thinking about.
Five or six times a month, EVE players send me KOTW candidates that are essentially EVE players being frightfully dumb. And from time to time, I have indeed featured these kinds of losses. But I look into the whys a little bit first before I do, looking at character history or trying to understand if there's a reason for what they did. And from time to time, I've held off featuring this or that kill because I talked to the person and they really just didn't understand how to play this game. This is something that's in the nature of EVE: there's little documentation and only very few player guides, particularly about specific "dos" and "don'ts".
I got an e-mail this past week from someone who wanted to thank me for all of the guides that I'd written over the years, but told me that he was nevertheless unsubscribing from the game. He just didn't feel like he was getting the hang of it, and felt like he was continuously making mistakes that were getting him trolled by corp-mates. I got the impression that there was a straw that had broken the camel's back, but he didn't tell me what that was. But honestly, he didn't have to because I could understand and sympathize with his situation.
There are few among us that haven't done something frightfully dumb in EVE Online.
And lots of times, I think it's because we simply don't realize why what we're doing is wrong. Evidence to the contrary, very few people log into this game intending to do something stupid. Sure, there are guides to playing EVE, but most of EVE knowledge comes down to experience. And until you have that experience or encounter a situation and have it explained to you what you should do and how you should do it... how are you going to know?
This is something that I've felt myself from time to time, and the more I think about it, the more I think it's actually more of an issue after you've been playing EVE for several years. When you first start out, the mistakes you can make are comparatively small. Perhaps you can get a ship destroyed because you didn't know how to fly it, or because you forgot (or didn't know) to watch Local. Perhaps your PvE group takes a few more minutes to tackle an incursion because you didn't know how to apply your DPS properly. Perhaps your small gang loses a fight instead of winning it because your ship didn't contribute to the fight in the right way. But the level of mistakes you can make in early EVE play is relatively minor and forgettable. And these mistakes are generally avoidable: a good teaching organization like EVE University can see you safely past them.
Then, as you play for a few years, the potential down-sides of your mistakes become bigger: you can whelp a sub-cap fleet because the intel you provide is poor or because you're an inexperienced FC. You can lose a capital ship by jumping it to a cyno you shouldn't have. You can lose an expensive PvE ship or a hauler to gankers because you didn't understand the mechanics of how ganks work. Even though you're more experienced at the game and should know more, any gap in your knowledge can have a correspondingly larger and more memorable effect. Worse still, there's no corp in EVE that will teach you ways to avoid mistakes at this level.
At the highest level of play, when you're supposed to be the most experienced, that's when you can make the biggest, stupidest mistakes of all. You can fail to realize that your alliance bills won't be paid this month, resulting in the loss of sovereignty over dozens of systems. You can lose a corporation's nest egg or an alliance's sovereignty to a badly-researched corp thief. You can jump a titan to a far-flung system instead of bridging a fleet there. You can whelp whole super-cap fleets.
And at every level, these mistakes can be unintentional or accidental... or can happen simply because you don't understand this or that undocumented game mechanic. When it's the latter, don't expect much sympathy from CCP. They've shown from time to time that even losses -- even massive losses -- resulting from a misunderstanding of how game mechanics work are your fault, not theirs. And these gaps in an EVE player's knowledge are both invisible and inevitable. I can't tell you how many times over the years that I've said "Huh, I didn't know that" when some esoteric EVE mechanic is explained to me.
The more you think you know everything there is to know about
EVE, the more likely you are to do something unforgivably stupid...
because you're in a position to.
The funniest thing of all about this? Getting educated about how EVE Online works? That's your responsibility. While lots of people in this game will be quick to point at you, laugh, and tell you how stupid you are, almost nobody in this game will explain why you're being stupid. Now that I've had the opportunity to chat with EVE Online developers in an informal setting, I can tell you that this philosophy goes all the way up to that level. More experienced players will rarely educate you because the successful do not want competition. EVE developers will rarely educate you because -- I think, anyway -- they're concerned that knowledge given will be knowledge exploited.
In this way, EVE Online is kind of a game of chance: you have to hope that someone else makes that stupid mistake before you do, preferably in a position where you can hear about it, learn from it, and learn why it was stupid... without it being you that it happens to. You're essentially playing this game hoping every day that you're not going to end up being an object lesson for someone else. The lucky ones get to keep playing.
So... yeah. That player that's unsubbing because he didn't realize why something he did was unforgivably dumb? I can definitely sympathize. EVE is a harsh, cold, dark universe, blah blah blah. Don't do anything stupid, OK?