(Editor’s Note: There has been an overwhelming response to #MyEveOnline and what follows is one of the most poignant we’ve discovered. This is a reposting of Manic Velocity’s entry in his blog on February 3rd, 2016 and is done so with permission. You can follow his blog at ManicVelocity.com/blog). Have a #MyEveOnline story to share? Let us know!
When I was about 17 years old, I discovered Friedrich Nietzsche and the philosophical concept of Nihilism, which posits that the universe is indifferent to the hopes and desires of humanity. And that our incredibly short time on this infinitesimally small rock on the outskirts of a boundless void is inherently meaningless. And like all 17 year olds who discover Nietzche, I felt that the veil had been lifted. I had reached the veritable peak of intellectual thought, while everyone around me remained mindless sheep, resigned to not living but merely existing. As thrilled as I was to be exercising my brain in this new and interesting way, it was, as you might expect, kind of depressing.
Like… what the hell is the point of all this, man?
During this time I went through various interpretations of nihilism before eventually settling on what’s called “active nihilism”, which is kind of a dark way of saying “Party like there’s no tomorrow.” If everything is meaningless, our instinct is to give up. Afterall, what’s the point of going to work to earn money to buy the HD television if you could die the next day? But active nihilism tells us to activelywork to destroy the artificial constructs that give us this false sense of purpose, and rebuild from the rubble having grown wiser from the experience. Sound familiar?
I could talk about this for hours. And maybe I will some day… during a live stream… over a few glasses of scotch. It will be the Twitch event of the season, I’m sure. But I’m going somewhere with this. A popular EVE-themed twitter hashtag cropped up last night. #MyEVEOnline asked players why they play EVE. It’s a question we all love to answer. After I submitted my tweet, I knew there was more I had to say. And 140 characters would not be sufficient. Hence this blog post.
I play EVE because it’s the perfect MMO for cynical nihilists like myself. Nothing matters, so let’s have fun blowing shit up.
That was my tweet. I guess you could call it “optimistic nihilism”. In the moment, it felt true. But upon second, third, and fourth readings, I realized that it was only partially true. Sure, EVE is just a video game that will exist for an incredibly short time on an infinitesimally small rock on the outskirts of a boundless void. EVE itself doesn’t amount to much in the greater picture. But… as individuals, we don’t live in the “greater picture”. Not in any meaningful sense. We live here, now, drifting through time, slice by fleeting slice. And that’s where we find meaning.
Those are a few pictures of me from EVE Vegas last year. A few slices of time captured digitally, and now beaming straight to your face-hole at the speed of light. I wore that smile every day for three days straight. That’s not the face of a “cynical nihilist” who plays a space MMO. That’s the face of a guy having the rare occasion to meet and party with some of his personal celebrities. People who help to make a game that he loves, and that connects him to some of the coolest people he will probably ever meet. EVE is real, and EVE has meaning, because it brings these people together. And the best and most interesting thing about EVE is the people who play it.
People who I had never met until then, welcomed me with open arms. When I introduced myself to CCP Punkturis and extended a friendly hand, without saying a word she literally opened her arms and drew me in for a hug. It was completely unexpected, and it set the stage for the rest of the convention. And it happened more and more as the event rounded its end. As I said goodbye to Protovarious of The Neocom, he moved in for a hug. As I thanked Mynxee and Gabby and Markus Vulpine of EVE-Scout for making sure I didn’t have to spend the convention by myself, they all leaned in for hugs. People were hugging left and right on that bittersweet final day.
For all our treachery and backstabbing… EVE players really like hugging each other. It’s blatantly evident that EVE means something to all of us.
I’m not going to retract the tweet because, as I said, I feel that it is at least partially true. When you are an immortal capsuleer with near-infinite money and resources at your disposal, it’s easy to live with reckless abandon as if none of it matters. But all of that falls away when we get together in the real world.
To say that EVE is meaningless is to dismiss what makes it great: the people who play it.