Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bullies in the sandbox

Just to make sure the stories weren't exaggerated, I took a small frigate I didn't need any more, insured it, updated my clone, and took the shortest route into null sec space in EVE Online. I had to cross two low sec sectors, but nothing happened there. On entering null sec however, within seconds I got warp scrambled so I couldn't escape, and then three much bigger ships shot me into pieces and then even podded me. I survived null sec less than a minute.

This exemplifies the fundamental problem of communication I have with EVE players: They consider this "normal". You enter null sec space, other players will shoot you down, not just your ship, but also your pod. For no reason other than that they can and for no crime other than you being there. There is no strategic challenge in this sort of PvP, it is simply ganking.

Much is being made of EVE being a sandbox game, but in reality the new players are just playing in the dirt on the outskirts of the playground. The sandbox with the fine sand and the nice toys is occupied by bullies, and if you even get close they are going to beat you up and kick you out. So the goal in life for EVE players is to become strong, gather friends, and be able to beat up the bullies, kick them out of the sandbox, and become the bigger bully.

Personally, I don't see the point of it all. I don't want to become the bigger bully. I don't enjoy beating weaker players for no purpose. I don't even enjoy beating up the bullies. I am clever enough to realize that this isn't the only playground around. There are lots of other playgrounds with as nice or even nicer sandboxes and toys, with supervision by grown-ups, so there is no bullying. Sure, in those supervised sandboxes you can't do everything you want, because the grown-ups will prevent you from hurting the other kids or doing other too dangerous stuff. But if you just want to play with the toys in the sandbox, without having to fight the bullies over it, those other playgrounds are much better suited for you. Because the only restriction is that you can't do the stuff you shouldn't be doing anyway if you were a nice kid. If you aren't a bully yourself, those supervised, bully-free playgrounds are the much better places.

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