Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to write a whole series of posts about what I see happening to EVE Online culture. In the process, I will also probably mention how CCP might have to try to put the brakes on what's happening with that culture. But to understand the posts, you're going to have to understand the Reavers, so here goes. Those familiar with the lore of Firefly can skip the next three paragraphs.
If you only look on the surface, the Reavers are very science-fiction horror stereotypical bad guys: they appear to be mindless, thoughtless zombies intent on inflicting pain and death. Think of any zombie flick you've ever seen, then somehow give them the ability to pilot spacecraft. That's the Reavers. As character Zoe Washburne famously put it, if they catch you, they will kill you, rape you, and use your skin to make their clothing... and if you're very lucky, they'll do it in that order. And all of us have seen enough horror movies to know the words to that song.
Only it's not nearly that simple. Over the course of the series and into the follow-on movie, it becomes apparent (through good writing alone) that the Reavers are neither mindless nor thoughtless. They enjoy the pain they inflict. They specifically eschew quick easy kills in favor of first inflicting panic, despair, fear, and agony. Even with a victim very clearly at their mercy, they toy with the victim and draw out the kill, savoring the victim's suffering every bit as much as the victim's flesh.
Then, if that weren't bad enough, the movie reveals that the creation of the Reavers was an accident inflicted by the government within the lore of Firefly ("the Alliance") on their own people! It wasn't intentional, and it quickly spiraled out of the government's control, but an attempt to use drugs (nicknamed "the Pax") to generate a passive, non-violent, controllable population massively backfired... resulting in the deaths of millions of people. But it also results in the creation of the Reavers, a tiny minority who are so resistant to the Pax that it had the opposite of the intended effect.
To those of you who already knew the lore of Firefly, welcome back. I've just explained how the Alliance -- in an attempt to create a controllable population -- used the Pax on some of their own people with the opposite of the intended effect: it backfired massively and created a race of humans that enjoy inflicting pain, panic, suffering, and eventually death. These humans then spiraled completely out of the Alliance's control.
If this analogy isn't sinking in with you yet, let me spell it out clearly:
- CCP is the Alliance.
- The Pax is EVE Online.
- The people killed by the Pax are the players that quit the game very early.
- The people killed by the Reavers are the players driven out of the game.
- The Reavers are everyone who's left: you, not to put too fine a point on it.
Just... you know... FYI.
Now, of course EVE attracts new players. It's been doing so for years. But increasingly, what kind of players are being attracted? Needless to say, I think this is having an impact on CCP's ability to attract new players who aren't already half-Reaver. But I'll get to that in due course.
So over the next few weeks I'm going to do some writing about what I think got us here... and -- as I find public evidence for it -- what CCP might be doing to try to stem the tide. Buckle your seatbelts, kids.