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.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! ;-)
In EVE Online, what does the concept of 'home' mean to you?"
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.
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. ;-)