A philosophy I try to adhere to says not to judge things, but to take them as they are, essentially accepting that “it is what it is.” This line of thinking brings to mind the user interface in EVE Online, notably that your character is, for most practical purposes, a ship rather than a person. What effect on game play does that have?
As a fairly typical male of my species–I leave the identity thereof to your imagination and sense of humor–I note that in EVE Online there aren’t exactly a whole bunch of hot-looking cyberbabes. For that matter, there aren’t many handsome cyberguys around, either. Besides, who can really tell what gender someone is with the names players use? Kalgonikorimatanagolik?!? What in the world is that? The best you can do to strike up a conversation is something like, “Yo! Nice turret. Can I buy you an afterburner?” Who knows what’s on the other end in game, much less in the real world!
In the real world, word has it is that a lot of guys gender-bend in online games, making their fantasies come to life–along with themselves, it would seem in some cases. The thinking goes, that they do this so they can watch, often from behind, scantily clad female warriors of various ilks obey their every electronic command hour after hour. Even I will admit to a taste for athletically built women in thongs and a partial suit of armor, usually just shin and arm guards. But honestly, I get confused when the manifestation of a player named “sexkitten69” looks like 30 minutes of dragging a big electromagnet around a junk yard–a description taken from a joke in the EVE forums about what Minmatar ships look like. When I offer the old afterburner line, she says, “Pffft. I’m Tech II already. Get lost.” What’s a self-respecting space pilot supposed to do? Guess I forgot that I was gender-bending, too. But does it matter? I’m Minmatar, which means I look like a scrap heap, just like sexkitten69. How romantic.
Actually, the character creation machinery in EVE isn’t too bad. I was able to come up with a nice looking Minmatar lady as my character, and to be fair, you do see the results of people’s efforts at a pretty (or not) face here and there. I remember reading that in future releases, EVE Online may allow characters to walk around in stations, so we may be able to see them at some point. Something to look forward to, I suppose.
But on a deeper level, does the non-personal style of the user interface contribute to a detached view of the game? EVE Online does appear somewhat “cold,” in that living beings are never depicted in three dimensions. Everything visible in the game is mechanical and artificial, rendering the connection between player and game purely cerebral rather than visceral. Having said that, I could argue that it’s in keeping with the cold, dark and lonely feel that the graphics are built to connote, and I would never argue that the display is anything but superb in terms of meeting the design goals.
Why do I bother asking that? Because of my personal situation — that is, the part-time one. I wonder if the coldness of the interface lessens the appeal of the game and compromises its ability to draw people back for more, including me. There are no “beautiful people” to look forward to hanging out with. Admittedly, that’s a superficial sort attraction, but maybe it’s time to just admit to myself that EVE Online is what it is.
— Will Collum
Read Previous EVE Online Diaries:
January 23, 2008; January 30, 2008; February 6, 2008; February 13, 2008; February 20, 2008; February 27, 2008; March 5, 2008; March 12, 2008; March 19, 2008; March 26, 2008; April 2, 2008; April 9, 2008; April 16, 2008; April 23, 2008