The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Alt
Dr Jekyll – “This month’s Banter topic comes to us from the ever helpful Eelis Kiy, capsuleer behind the “Where the frack is my ship” blog. She asks: How does your real life personality compare to who you are as a character in EVE? Does a good leader of people in the real world make a good leader of pilots in game? Or vice-versa? Do your real-life skills help you with the roles you fulfill in your corporation or alliance? Or do you behave completely differently? Does the anonymity of the Internet allow you to thrive on the tears of others in New Eden whilst you work as a good Samaritan away from your keyboard? Or are you as mean outside of your pod as you are inside it? Have experiences in EVE Online affected your behavior, skills or attitudes outside of the game?”
Mr Alt – “If, as many claim, MMOs and EVE Online is a form of escapism it begs the question what are we escaping from? The mundaneness of our hum drum lives? The pressures of work, family and society? Or are we actually escaping from ourselves, fleeing head long into alternate universes where our short comings and weakness are unknown, hidden by the cloak of anonymity and where we can let loose our inner id?”
Dr Jekyll – “Well Mr Alt if you happen to browse the forums of EVE Online you’d be forgiven for assuming it was a game played on the whole by adolescents with a fairly tragic grasp of social relationships and an overflowing abundance of childish humour. The stats say different however, the average age of an EVE player is 27, and will (most likely) be male and employed in a reasonable job (enough to fork out the subscription fee at any rate). They’ll be outliers of course, the 85 year old unemployed woman who happens to love internet spaceships and the 12 year old self made internet millionaire – these however are a rarity”.
Mr Alt – “So Dr Jekyll you’re saying that the forums suggest that we act differently ‘online’ and that in some way we exhibit a alter ego? I’m not so sure this is actually the case. My guess is (and it is a guess) is that our alter egos, the ones we wear to work and in polite society are the false images and that people are actually quite childish, selfish and prone to temper tantrums. Scary huh? I shouldn’t think anyone should be surprised by this – after all we were all children at one stage and the social baggage that follows in our subsequent years is just that: baggage”.
Dr Jekyll ” True, but some character traits will perhaps come to the fore – the more extrovert personality is more likely to end up ‘leading’ but they’re that extrovert character with their life baggage stripped off and dumped. Hence you can have someone who in the real world is a quiet, shy and introverted person only to be transformed into a blood thirsty leader of piratical scum in EVE. The same thing could apply the other way around with a confident, direct and authoritative business leader in reality once stripped of their outer mantle changes into a cautious but helpful miner in high sec”.
Mr Alt -“I think some would hope that EVE has some sort of symbiotic relationship with the ‘real world’ and that in some small way skills in EVE will translate into skills out of EVE and vice versa. The trouble is these so called skills don’t translate well because the persona (ego, id) differs. It is a little like saying that an actor playing the role of a hardened super hero crime buster can then apply those attributes to ‘reality’. Christian Bale might be stalking his local city in a cape and body armour but somehow I doubt it”.
Dr Jekyll – “Ha! Yes well put Mr Alt. Well put! Many will fervently wish this transference to be some how true, especially if there is a great disparity in their comparative success in the ‘online’ vs the ‘offline’ world. For example let’s say you’re a successful, wealthy and powerful alliance leader in EVE, and a broke pauper working in a duff job in reality; sure you’d hope that EVE would teach you something that would transform your offline life. But lets face the cold truth here – that’s unlikely”.
Mr Alt ” We mustn’t forget Dr Jekyll the other factor about EVE is that, for the most part, it is consequence free. Being one step removed means your actions have less meaning. So, if you are a really very nice person, you can experiment with the act of not being nice and taste safely the sensation of not being nice. Why do so many players want EVE to remain a cold, harsh universe were they can “hurt” others? Purely because they wouldn’t, couldn’t bring themselves to act that way out here in reality. This naturally throws up the question that if all those pirates and PVP’ers are really friendly cuddly folk what are those mining carebears actually like……”
Dr Jekyll “Oh come now Mr Alt EVE, like any hobby, can have spin off effects. You may meet new friends, or gain new insights and interests as a result. For example this blog – perhaps Cailais always wanted to write rambling reams of text but he didn’t until EVE prompted him to do so?”.
Mr Alt – “Perhaps Dr Jekyll, perhaps. The really interesting question from Eelis’s blog banter to me though is not the question she asked but why she asked it. Notice her question is phrased directly – at you. Eelis could have written:
Do our real-life skills help us with the roles we fulfill in our corporations or alliances? or
Do players real-life skills help them with the roles they fulfill in their corporations or alliances?
She could have written that, but instead she asked “How does your real life personality compare to who you are as a character in EVE.” The impertinence of the woman!
The fascinating thing about EVE (and you can see this from things like Fan Fest and player meets) is that ultimately we’re all wondering the same thing – is that persona we’re interacting with really genuinely like that? The answer is genuinely yes deep down we are.
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- More to come….