In her first submission for The Neocom, Lauresh Thellere takes us through the basics of setting up your very own EVE meet.
EVE Online is a bit of a rarity in the gaming world, in that the players are active in organising player meets throughout the year both with and without CCP involvement. The best-known are the large meets such as EVE New England and EVE Down Under, which require months of planning; the smaller gatherings are more frequent, as they require little planning and are much more informal. Both give players the perfect opportunity to meet new people, and to have interesting chats with players they already know.
In my three years playing EVE, I have run a number of events, from simple pub meets to helping with the initial preparations for EVE Down Under in 2015. To run a small gathering you don’t need to be an expert event planner – I’m certainly not one myself – but there are a few things to think about before you do.
Pick a date and time
check the event guides for your city to see if there’s a major event in the period you’re planning on holding the event – for example, if there’s a major sporting event in your city on the day of your meet, you may get a much lower turnout. It is also important to schedule around other EVE events; for example, in Adelaide we don’t hold a gathering the weekend of EVE Down Under as a lot of the attendees will be there instead. However, in some cases this can work in your favour when planned properly, such as having a meet during Fanfest and arranging to show the stream while hanging out with your spacefriends.
The sweet spot in the week is roughly Thursday to Saturday; events outside of this tend to have lower attendance due to work and personal commitments. A decent lead time between your announcement and the date itself is important; typically 2 weeks is ideal as it gives people enough time to plan, without being so far out that people forget it exists.
Pick a venue
Again, this is something you don’t want to leave to chance. The wrong venue may mean people are unable or unwilling to attend, or the venue may have a function booked at the same time, leaving limited space for your event. Picking a place that is easy to get to and reasonably central to the people around you is ideal; for example, in Adelaide we hold most of our meets at the Belgian Beer Café in the central shopping district of the city, which means that busses and trains are within easy reach.
Another important thing to keep in mind is any specials the venue might have, such as happy hours and food specials. Starting your event just after happy hour finishes is going to make for a few unhappy spacefriends.
If you’re expecting a larger number of people and you’re unsure if there will be a table when you arrive, give the venue a call ahead of time and see if you can reserve a table for the night; not only will you have happier players, but the venue will be better prepared as well.
This is often the most daunting step, as organisers are often unsure whether they can get people to show up. The good news is, it’s easier than most people think, as EVE players are notorious for wanting to drink beer and talk about random stuff with people who share their hobby. There are also a number of tools that have been set up to help you find your attendees.
The first place you should advertise is evemeet.net, a website designed specifically to help people locate events in their area. The event feed is published in a few other places, such as Twitter and the Tweetfleet Slack, so as an event organiser, this is a valuable tool to get the word out.
The second place to publish is the EVE Online forums: there’s a subforum called “Out of Game Events and Gatherings” which is used to advertise events. I strongly recommend putting the essential information in the post title, as people tend to skim for events local to them. If I make a post along the lines of “Adelaide pub meet, December 2nd” it is much more likely to get seen by those in my area than a title like “I’m holding a meet” as the critical information is available at a glance. Information such as the exact venue, the start time, and any other details like special guests, can all go into the body of the post, as those interested will seek the information out.
It’s worth seeing if there’s an EVE community group specific to your area, to do some more targeted advertising. For example, in Adelaide we have the EVE Down Under Facebook group and in-game channel, as well as a channel for Adelaide players; information posted here tends to be seen by by your target audience pretty quickly.
Keeping it friendly
The most important thing to know about running a player gathering is that the in game politics is checked at the door. A typical player gathering will have people from a range of alliances and corporations; the ones in Adelaide see large numbers from The Imperium as well as Pandemic Legion. In order to keep people coming to future events, it’s important that in-game grudges stay in-game; if you do find someone who is eager for a fight due to something that has happened in-game, then it might be time to change the subject; if necessary, buying that person a beer and having a chat with them can help them to cool down. As an organiser, it is not your responsibility to control people who’ve come to have a good time, but preventing arguments from becoming heated will help to keep your events popular in the future.
That said, EVE players do tend to check game politics at the door automatically, as they’ve come to have a few drinks and to chill out and talk about spaceships with friends and strangers alike. There are plenty of light-hearted jokes thrown around about other players and their alliances, but I have yet to see an instance where it became an issue.
Welcoming the Newbies
New players tend to be a bit more hesitant to attend player gatherings, but there are a few things you can do to alleviate this. The first is to have a way for your group to be recognised as an EVE group; in Adelaide we tend to have a player wearing either an EVE Online or a Goonswarm shirt, both of which are easily recognised by players. I also recommend making sure that new players feel welcome, either by going over, introducing yourself and having a chat, or just by making sure that they get involved in a conversation with another player there. New players may be less confident with their experiences as well, so explaining things as you go is ideal, but make sure you’re not coming across as patronising.
There are plenty of other things you will learn as you gain experience in hosting events; what works for one organiser may not work for you, due to regional and cultural differences. Holding events in a park or a pub may not be culturally acceptable everywhere, so don’t be afraid to break away from the conventional EVE meet format and do something more relevant to your group. Most of all, though: don’t be afraid to try.