There is no game quite like EVE Online, satisfying the entrepreneurial and Machiavellian streak in the most battle hardened of gamer. As mentioned in my previous post ‘Gaming and Me‘, I was drawn to EVE Online not only because of a love of spaceships and Sci-Fi but because of the pursuit of infamy and power. Flying spaceships into battle with thousands of others has its appeal, as does the lore, but to conquer EVE Online and become ‘space famous’ while doing so is what every EVE Online player secretly craves. Everyone wants to be the next Montolio, The Mittani, Molle, Elise Randolph, or the next Grath Telkin.
The article that catapulted me into EVE Online focused on the nefarious efforts of Guided Hand Social Club. I know of no other game that encourages you to be a bad person to others without consequence; collecting the tears of your online adversaries as if it’s a mixer for your gin because you’ve run out of tonic and the off licence has closed. Obviously, my character in EVE runs contrary to my daily life as a law-abiding citizen but you don’t fire up Mario Bros on the Wii U to play as Hayden. You play as Mario or Luigi and ride around on a cute green dinosaur dressed as a cat.
I remember my first day in EVE was clueless. I zoomed around in my rookie ship doing starter missions overwhelmed by the chaotic UI and the information the game was throwing at me. I joined a corporation that recruited me from the recruitment room built into the game and spoke to people on Ventrilo via the built-in microphone on my laptop. It was all new to me, and rather than the excitement that a first person shooter can provide, I was soaking up as much information as I could while making myself a social group with which to play EVE.
A corporation within the game is essentially a business; with a CEO, directors, roles, and responsibilities just as any company would have. To be a successful CEO in the game, you have to be able to balance practicality with security. Giving too much access to the wrong person could spell disaster waking up to find your assets and money stolen. Within EVE Online there is a saying that every player knows or learns very quickly:-
This corporation wasn’t the best run in EVE Online. Security wasn’t the strong suit of the CEO and I quickly rose through the ranks because of my efforts to tighten everything up and run the corporation better. I had run companies before so volunteering in management for an in-game entity made total sense and I relished using my experience to improve it. It was because of this that I became a director after three days, educating myself in corporation management and security roles to try to protect us from espionage.
Within EVE there are many different types of play styles and people. You can be a miner, builder, PvP’er, researcher, trader, fleet commander, or community builder. My preferred role is as a community builder. We are a rare group of people within the game, finding enjoyment in building communities and their services so that others enjoy the game to its fullest. Unlike the industrialist that will mine the raw materials to build ships to sell for profit or the PVP pilot who will buy the ships the industrialist makes to wage war, we focus on both player groups to provide a place that everyone can work together and enjoy their game time. I find it very satisfying growing a corporation into an entity that people feel loyal to, working as a collective to further its members, advancing it as a corporation.
Although being a community builder is rewarding when people wave your banner in local (the shared channel for those in the same system as you), or make friends in real life and meet up, it can be an incredibly stressful EVE occupation. The responsibility of being the CEO in-game mirrors that of the real world; with people relying on your presence and guidance to keep driving the group forwards. As the corporation grows and delegation begins to happen, the CEO becomes more of a figurehead and ‘mascot’. Until this point comes the CEO can expect to shoulder the brunt of management, vision, agenda setting, and daily operations. Those corporations that fail are those where a CEO cannot delegate and jealously holds onto power and responsibility while choking out talent. I have seen it many times in EVE. A corporation ‘fail-cascades’ because a CEO wants to do everything, while simultaneously not being able to do anything correctly leading to the frustration and animosity of corporation members.
Running a corporation in EVE Online.
My first corporation in the game was industrial in nature. I left the corporation that recruited me after approximately a week of being there due to a Corp heist that saw us lose billions in assets, money, and decimated the trust with leadership. I left to make something better with almost half of the previous corporation coming with me to build the new corporation. Although I had the ability to run a corporation, I lacked the skills to be effective in the game itself. It’s not so much of a hindrance when running a group but if you wish to participate and cannot fly a battleship properly within the game, it can be challenging as I found out very quickly when we were war-decced.
My corporation quickly grew to 80 people, with mining and building happening at all times of the day. I could login in the middle of the night to find 30 people online managing a mining fleet, with others being recruited, and new things being constantly planned. This corporation was building ships at an astonishing rate, dwarfing other corporations in our area while chasing them out of systems as we hogged resources and drew in other groups to our periphery. It was at this point that I and others in the corporation decided that I should train towards alliance creation skills so that we could make an alliance and move onto the next level. If we had stuck to this without doing what we did next, we would have remained an active group and have not ultimately failed.
Stupidly we decided to split our corporation in half.
The thought was that we would move military functions into another corporation with a distinct military name so that we could attract other PVP players. We kept our industrial base in the first corporation as it clearly had an industrial name and attracted the right people that we needed to increase our fleets. This was absolute disaster for us. There had already been issues before this point with one or two members of the corporation screaming and shouting that they wanted director roles to the corporation. They were staunchly refused by myself and my co-CEO due to it being unnecessary. It was a harsh lesson in human resources as in my efforts to be fair and just I had allowed a disruptive influence to cause a schism within the corporation. My next mistake was to enable one of these people to be the CEO of the newly formed military corporation. This corporation was created by myself and I held 100% of the shares. It wasn’t a page out of the megalomania’s manual, it was so that we could keep our name sake tied to us as the other corporation was similarly named. Setting this up meant that this small group of detractors had a base from which to destabilise our entire community, attempting to syphon members, spread drama, and cause a collapse. Unfortunately it succeeded.
Although a good lesson and one I remember up until the current day it was tough to have something that I’d created so severely damaged by drama and agendas. My current corporation focuses very heavily on recruiting from within, a robust and established leadership, and a meritocratic system. A corporation will always have dissenters whom are required but when they become toxic you need to remove them before they begin to affect the running of your corporation. It’s exactly the same as the business world and why human resources departments and managers are so quick to respond to trouble within.
Sock Puppet Federation is my best creation within New Eden, built-in unison with Test Alliance Please Ignore. It had always been my mission within EVE to create a self-sustaining and space holding entity that could eventually stand alone and prove itself perennial. Due to my diplomatic efforts within other alliances and my collection of friends within EVE I was able to secure blue status (friendly status) and an area of space with them. Sock Puppet Federation quickly grew to 300 people within a couple of months, broadcasting our ridiculous antics on Twitch, getting visible on Reddit, Twitter, and developing a following on Facebook. Within EVE we began to be known as a fun place to be with surrounding alliances joining in with our fleets and insane competitions. One of our pilots upset people in another alliance, causing me to call a ‘Trial by Ordeal’.
This trial by ordeal was simple. They had to mine in one of the most hostile systems in the game, bring back the ore they had mined, all while being chased by the people watching the Twitch stream. This pilot made his way to VFK (system name) while being chased by the hounds snapping at their heels, and managed to mine the ore only to be killed by those that had followed them. After two hours streaming, we called it a day but not before the Twitch stream had hit approximately 50-100 people gaining us new recruits from across the game who had logged in to watch us.
Sock Puppet Federation steadily grew in numbers, space, and power, which meant that administering this group became a full-time job. Delegation was hard to do as people weren’t keen to pitch in with many members happy to remain as passengers. Throughout the 13 years that EVE has been around, there has been a shift from the enjoyment of the collective to the enjoyment of the individual. I have often hypothesised that this is due to the rise of the FPS which gives instantaneous gratification to the player. EVE Online isn’t the same type of game. It requires an investment of time and effort and needs to be played as a group. Unfortunately, people want to play it like it’s Call of Duty, logging in for a quick fix and then logging out without adding to the community.
EVE Online teaches you a particular set of skills as a community builder. The skills it teaches you are easily transferrable to the real world. You have to learn people management, diplomacy, public relations and marketing, managing a narrative, branding, and business management in general. So much of what you learn as an EVE CEO is directly relatable to the Public Relations industry. Running a corporation and alliance has been a fantastic learning experience that has been a useful learning exercise, and one of the reasons I’ve played EVE Online for over ten years.