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.
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cognitive dissonance

EVE players are masters of cognitive dissonance.

Defined, the term describes a mental state in which you convince yourself that a situation is an overall net positive despite having many more negative aspects than positive ones.  The simplest example is "I didn't want that ship/moon/system/region anyway."  Of course, if you really believed that you would have sold the ship or given away the moon, system, or region months ago.  You didn't, but you convince yourself that the loss is really for the best.

With that in mind, I invite you to read through this somewhat unintentionally amusing blog post "The War Against Super Capitals" by Wilhelm Arcturus at The Ancient Gaming Noob.  Well, it's amusing in context.  I count no fewer than ten examples of major cognitive dissonance (they're quotes from the piece):
  • By the time it came to Drake Fleet, there were few pilots willing or able to jump into Scimitars.  I was able, I just wasn’t willing.
  • ...it would take as many as five titan bridges to get us to our destination.  As it turned out, due to bad planning, we were not even going to get one.
  • Then we jumped into chaos.  And TiDi.  And Lag.
  • ...the EVE client doesn’t really like [it when you try to use the game's UI under heavy TiDi].  It starts to get erratic...
  • ...[for our Drakes], a single volley being enough to destroy most of our targets.
  • But this time my EVE client was starting to come apart...
  • I got in there and tried to loot some and ended up grabbing wrecks full of Scourge missiles...
  • We didn’t kill the CSAA.  Mission failed on that front.
  • We then turned for home, which was trial only because TiDi chased us most of the way home.
  • Both sides will no doubt declare victory.
  • All in all it was a heck of a fight, and a nice way to end the month.
That last one is the one that really sells it for me.  ;-)  "This fight sucked in ten different ways, but it was fun!"  That's cognitive dissonance.

I'm not trying to make light of TAGN's experiences; he's a great blogger who I admire a great deal.  His post does a better job of describing the fight than themittani.com's coverage.  You can see many Goon pilots also saying how much fun this was.(1)  It's funny how good humans are at convincing themselves that negative experiences are actually positive ones.

And EVE players are masters at it.  We've all got this particular skill trained to V...

(1) The few IRC/NCdot pilots that try to comment are almost instantly shouted down by Goons.


  1. This is why I mostly stay unsubbed (I sub a few times a year to train and throw CCP some dough because I still love this nutty game).

    I get my Eve entertainment via blogs, game "journalist" articles, podcasts, EON mag, etc. The actual game itself requires boatloads of cognitive dissonance, but following the game outside of the client is actually pretty entertaining.

  2. I have trained it to V since Dominion, and you?

    Also, love it that you put in the Geek Philosophy department, you've had that one padlocked for a while ;-)

  3. Hah! Now is that 10 examples of cognitive dissonance, or nine arguments showing that the 10th statement is CD?

    But it was fun, and it is hard to capture in a post why that is so. A lot of it has to do with what was going on with voice coms. I left hints for myself and others who were in the fleet about a few of those, like Laz telling everybody repeatedly and in multiple forms that we were in Op3 when we were on the Op2 channel. Or us flying off with just 8 Scimis.

    And I didn't even get into Laz and Suas telling stories, the two unintelligible Scotsmen on channel and the ensuing sheep jokes, the guy with the Jamaican accent that everybody loves, or laughing about the guy who got caught on a battle report in his Noctis in an earlier fight.

    You can make the case that EVE is, objectively, not fun. The game seems to fight you, to actively work to deny you enjoyment at times.

    It is the social aspect that makes the game fun. Despite the fact that I never, ever speak on coms during a fleet (because we need another wise-ass doing that, right?)I was laughing out loud any number of times. I enjoy that. The jokes, the stories, the irreverence, and the getting down to business and getting the job done are all good times.

    Those are golden moments, not to be downplayed.

    1. Is it bad that I kind of thought that you just added an eleventh way of convincing yourself of the fun you had? j/k...

    2. The recent fad in throwing around phrases such as "cognitive dissonance" and "illusory superiority" is quite a strange phenomenon. It's become quite hip to throw around and misuse these phrases in the past year or two. I suppose it has something to do with trying to make the person feel better about them-self by (incorrectly) pointing out someone else's flaws while using what they think is a pseudo-intellectual term to appear smarter than they really are.

      In this case, the use of claiming someone is suffering from cognitive dissonance is basically another form of trying to call them a hypocrite. You're simply using the wrong word. Your attempt to simplify the meaning and expand it to become so vague that it applies to anything just shows how little you understand the actual meaning.

      One can enjoy a video game despite the fact that there may be mundane or not entirely perfect steps between the beginning and end. This does not mean they are holding two conflicting ideas. Losing pixels on a screen doesn't have to make you get angry or not enjoy the game as a whole. You're projecting your own assumptions onto others as to what YOU perceive as being fun or not fun.

      For him to of had cognitive dissonance he would of had to feel like he was not enjoying the game at some point during the fight, only to then state he did in fact have fun at the end. The middle part is what's missing. He does not hold an opposing opinion that the game wasn't fun.

  4. And damn, I spotted a typo in your quotes. It was supposed to be "By this time my EVE client was starting to come apart..."

    My fingers seem to pay no mind to what my brain is telling them to type some days.

    Oh, and I totally forgot the spasm of Space 1999 nostalgia that hit coms just before the battle!

  5. "The few IRC/NCdot pilots that try to comment are almost instantly shouted down by Goons."

    Thus mirroring the fight itself and the northern wars in general.

  6. "It's funny how good humans are at convincing themselves that negative experiences are actually positive ones."

    Your post lists negative factors, that had they not happened, would have made a good event even better. Those negative factors however were not enough to make what actually happened an overall negative experience.

    1. Cognitive dissonance most often happens when you try to justify doing things that aren't smart, aren't good for you, or aren't fun. Another good example is the man who knows smoking is unhealthy, but convinces himself that it's not that big of a negative because he enjoys it and it relaxes him, therefore lowering his stress and making him live longer.

      Doesn't make smoking good for him no matter how much he successfully convinces himself otherwise. ;-)

    2. So then what's the difference between Cognitive Dissonance and just being wrong about the relative tradeoffs?

    3. But not smoking is an obvious choice, not a debatable opinion, and the guy trying to convince himself otherwise is just lying to himself. I don't think Wilhelm is doing that here.

      He actually did have fun in this Op. The smoking thing would only apply if he actually felt like he wasted 3 hours in an Op that bored him, and then wrote a post trying to justify that 3hrs to himself and everyone else. That did not happen here. He will be around for the next Op not because he is addicted to Ops/smoking, but because he actually enjoys them (even knowing that EVE might make them more difficult to enjoy due to technical reasons)

      I think you are looking at his post and placing yourself in his shoes. You yourself would find a fleet Op like that boring, but could write a similar post convincing yourself and others it was not that bad. But again, that's not what happened here with Wilhelm.

      (Also any chance to remove the captcha for commenting? Always take 3-4 attempt before it accepts it)

    4. Yeah, Suncaine, you seem to be the only other one here who gets it. He's projecting his own opinion of what he perceives as having a good time onto Wilheim. Because he didn't kill the CSAA, which Jester assumes is the only main goal, he can't possibly of had fun. Therefore, Jester's opposing opinion becomes Wilheim's opposing opinion.

  7. I dont agree that because something negative happened (like losing a massive battle), I feel that even though it was a net loss, it could still be fun, which is why we play EvE: to have fun. Even losing, you should still have a good time exploding ships. Once its not fun and enjoyable, even the negatives, its time to move on to a new hobby.

    Look at corpse runs in EQ1. People hated corpse runs, but most of the time retrieving corpses full of gear and loot was a fun and enjoyable experience in and of itself

  8. Prehaps these player just care more about the scale of the fight and amount of destruction, rather than the tactics and tempo. Obviously it caters to a much different player than small gang PvP

  9. Cognitive Dissonance: When you profess to hate structure shoots, hellcamps, alarm clocking, and titan bridging... but say you're having so much fun doing it that you're soon moving on to target number two!

    Just saying ;)

  10. " The simplest example is 'I didn't want that ship/moon/system/region anyway.'" I believe Aesop coined the phrase "sour grapes" for that one a couple millenia or so ago. ;-)

    A better example would be the carebear who denies the reality of open-world PvP in EVE and is surprised, shocked, and enRAEEEEGGG!!!ed when some :bad: blows his ship up, even in lowsec, etc. ;-) Cognition dissonant from reality. ;-)

  11. Jester, I have the impression you don't go to a big fleet often, cause there's always lots of things not fun which happen to these, and most of the time you don't even have the opportunity to kill a lot of reds, as otfne you only shoot structures. The simple fact of going to a big fleet, killing a lot of people, and being able to go back alive will be considered fun by most people from sov alliances.


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