What Kind Of Person Plays 'EVE Online'?


Ask any EVE Online player to explain the game and you’ll get a lot of different answers. Some say it’s a videogame where you equip a spaceship with an assortment of phasers, turrets and missiles to conquer space one sector at a time. Others will tell you it’s a relaxing hobby where they hang out with friends while mining in an imaginary solar system. EVE ’s content is unique. There’s very little in-game story; every encounter you have, battle you fight or trade deal you sabotage is created by other players.

I got to meet the passionate fans who live and breathe EVE Online at CCP Games’ EVE Fanfest, a convention specifically for the niche game held in Reykjavik. Before going to the land made popular by Game Of Thrones , I knew next to nothing about EVE . I read articles talking about thousand dollar ships getting destroyed in an instant and watched a talk on the history of one of the game’s biggest wars, yet the gameplay and aesthetic was completely foreign to me. I wanted to find out who plays EVE Online .

Who Plays Eve Online?

EVE Online made one thing perfectly clear from the start: it’s not a videogame, it’s a hobby. You can’t pick up EVE for a couple of hours and put it down to do something else, that isn’t how it works. It’s a time commitment, you have to spend hours mining and trading to afford a large ship, which you can then take to a battle that can last for days without stopping.

“Many EVE players play other games, but it’s more like entertainment,” Andie Nordgren a.k.a. CCP Seagull, the executive producer for EVE Online , told me. “Like when you pull out your mobile phone and play a bit of Clash Of Clans , it’s more of a way to pass the time and not be bored, you can check Facebook instead, it performs the same function. [ EVE Online ] is the hobby for these people, they don’t have time for other stuff.”

Every single player – other than those who live in China – play on the same server. The universe might be gigantic, but everyone is still playing in the same intergalactic sandbox. “Everyone has a sort of relationship to everyone, even though they haven’t talked yet, because they care about and shape the same universe,” Nordgren said. “My actions will impact and if I make a big enough splash, other people might also be affected. That creates a completely different type of community, it’s more than when people just consume the same thing and like it.”

According to CCP, the average EVE Online player is around 35-years-old and has a demanding job that takes up most of his or her time.

“Because it’s a hobby, you get a lot more mature people in it,” Nordgren said. “There are people in IT, finance and more.” At the convention, I spoke with Icelandic programmers and coders, ranchers from Texas and an ex-NASA scientist who the community has deemed “ the Space Pope.” People who would have nothing to do with each other in real life bond over their love of EVE Online .

The best way to get someone to talk about their hobby is to give them alcohol, which was in abundance at CCP Fanfest. At afterhour bars around the convention center, I listened to players regale us with tales of intergalactic warfare and espionage worthy of a Tom Clancy novel. Every conversation started with one question: “who do you fly for?” or which corporation or alliance holds your allegiance. When I told them none, that I had never actually played the game, I expected to get a disapproving response. Instead of confusion and disbelief, they were excited to talk to me about the game and help me understand why they love EVE so much.

I wish I could remember funny little anecdotes about the night and the great conversations I had with EVE players, but Icelandic vodka is powerful. I woke up with the knowledge that regular, normal folks play this spaceship simulator. And a massive hangover.

EVE Online Military Men In Space

EVE Online also has a huge military and ex-military community. Because the game only pings the servers about once a second, you don’t need massive amounts of bandwidth to play, meaning you can play it deployed anywhere in the world.

“When you are in [the military], to cope with the realities of being in war, you have these 20 layers of intense care. Those five people next to you rely on you for their own survival so they really care about you,” Nordgren says. “It’s this intense care system and then you leave and there’s nothing, just this void. It seems a lot of [ex-soldiers] who came from this experience [rediscover] that kind of comradery and care in EVE Online.”

“I think that something happens when people get really connected to EVE. Other experiences tend to feel kind of shallow,” Steven Clark, a.k.a. CCP Rise and lead game designer of EVE . “The consequences can get kind of addicting – it’s hard to play games like Overwatch or whatever is popular at the time, since it often feels that it doesn't have the same weight.”

EVE has a sense of consequences that other games just don’t have. If you spend weeks saving enough currency, to buy a giant ship, and then lose it in one battle, there’s no way to get it back.

The developers of EVE Online know it isn’t a game for everyone; it can be quite complicated and confusing to newcomers. Still, the game is trying to get fresh faces in with a redesigned tutorial and new free-to-play model. The complicated spreadsheet system and module-enhanced UI made learning the game impossible for me, but if you can handle numbers and want to see a new universe of opportunity, you can be a member of EVE’s brigade.

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