Monday, August 27, 2012

Blog Banter 39: Home - two kinds of places

Blog Banter 39: Home "Some say a man's home is his castle. For others it is wherever they lay their hat. The concept is just as nebulous in the New Eden sandbox. In EVE Online, what does the concept of "home" mean to you?" 

'Home' means two things to me: a physical place to live, and a social place where I meet those I feel connected with. 

‘Home’ is a physical place 
For a place to be 'home', I have to feel some sort of title to the place, some sense of ownership; I have to be able to say *my* home. My unique place in time and space: mine, and no one else's. This is possible in Eve Online due to its' virtual worlds’ single shard design: every system, every station, every POS in New Eden is a unique place. Eve Online allows you to carve out your own niche in this virtual world. And if you live there, for a while, you may find yourself calling it ‘home’ or ‘my home’.

I have really felt at home in nullsec systems we had sovereignty in, but also in more quiet highsec systems where I'd often be one of the few guys running missions. I'd know the neighbours, if I sold stuff on the market I could often guess who'd be buying it, and the people living there would sometimes say 'hi' in local. My home!

Sovereignty reinforces that sense of ownership. You are probably more likely to say 'my home' in a system you own. And I can't speak from experience, but my guess is wormhole dwellers also have a stronger sense of ownership than someone living in a busy highsec system.

‘Incarna’ featured, in a much more literal sense, a place that was to become your home: the captain’s quarters. Incarna offered a grand vision of New Eden as a full scifi simulator, including all sorts of living places and establishments in stations. Unfortunately, it was poorly executed and implemented, as we all know now. But the original vision is not completely abandoned, and we may yet see more of it in the years to come. If and when that happens, ‘living’ in a station might get a completely different meaning. I was already, more or less, planning on - somehow - acquiring an apartment or shop with a window to outer space, preferably one with a view of the undock ramp.. and just sit there and admire the view, when I didn’t feel like flying. It was not (yet) to be! But if Incarna ever gets implemented properly, the meaning of ‘home’ in Eve Online may change forever for many pilots.

‘Home’ is a social place 
'Home' does not only refer to the physical location you are currently living in. It can also mean: the group of people you belong to. A tribe, a clan, a family, a congregation of faith, a country, a band of brothers: these and more can mean or become one’s ‘home’. In Eve Online, this roughly translates to the corporation or alliance you are a member of.
Many corps have a core membership, pilots who have often flown together for years. For instance No Fixed Abode's core membership: we go back to the start of our Eve careers, back in 2008. Random members may come and go, but unless something drastic happens, these core members stick together. Their social unit is their home!

Speaking with alliance members on the subject of 'home', it became clear that most pilots feel this kind of home is more important than the physical one. You can move to another place in New Eden with your corp or alliance, and still feel right at home even though the physical place is new and unfamiliar. One pilot told how he, once, moved out of the alliance in search of greener fields, but experienced something akin to homesickness. He had to return to us to cure the feeling.

Bittervets will sometimes tell that they are really done with Eve Online as a game, but still they login to meet their friends, chat with them on teamspeak or in alliance/corp chat. You could say that the above still applies to them: their corp or unit may still feel like home. When this happens, the ties that were forged in this game transcend it’s borders. The game has become just an interface, to meet those you feel connected with! The game itself may not be ‘home’ anymore, but the social unit still is.

Sometimes that interface itself isn’t even needed anymore: on the next level of bittervettedness, one may not even login any longer; they may only read blogs and forums. By this time, we are safely outside of Eve Online proper, and hence this blog banter’s question doesn’t apply, really. Still, it would be interesting to hear a bittervets’ opinion on whether these remaining out of game ties with a gaming community still have that ‘home’ feeling.