May 3, 2016

Get the Balance Right

I commented on Twitter a week or so ago that it felt like so much EVE stuff was going on in the META, it was impossible to keep up. The null sec war, Fanfest, the endless churn of topics on Twitter and r/eve, the Citadels expansion, CSM stuff, the blogs, the news sites, the podcasts, the videos, the books, and on and on. Then there's all the considerable stuff going on in my own alliance...leadership discussions, member initiatives, processing recruits in and departing members out, ops, questions, AFK notices, great stories about experiences, and more.

It's a seductive avalanche of activity, discussion, and engagement. It's so easy to get sucked in and lost amidst the crush and swirl, feeling like you have to keep tuning in to stay afloat, knowing its probably a losing battle, and wondering all the while how EVE has come to dominate every spare moment of your life.

It struck me a few weeks ago that the balance between RL and EVE was getting out of whack. This probably happens to every long-time, engaged EVE player. I went to bed thinking about EVE stuff, woke up thinking about it, checked Reddit and Twitter obsessively every chance I got, got a little twitchy if I didn't log in every day, felt a weird sense of obligation to have an opinion on everything and be in the know about all the stuff going on. You probably know what I'm talking about if you've been in EVE for more than five minutes.

Problem is, my time for EVE is limited. Real life is busy and full of interesting stuff needing doing that has nothing to do with gaming or even computers. And yet, I wasn't getting those things done because I was letting EVE steal so much time and mental energy. In analyzing my habits, I figured out that it wasn't EVE itself that was responsible, it was the META--all those addictive channels of engagement outside the game--that was the issue.

So, I decided to dial my engagement in the META way the hell down. Turned off retweets for everyone I followed on Twitter. Stopped Tweeting as much. Unfollowed a bunch of people who added nothing of value to my newsfeed. Stopped looking at Twitter and r/eve every 15 minutes. Stopped feeling obligated to comment on every post in my corp subreddit. Read few to no blogs or news sites on an ongoing basis.

It was tough at first...all those things are highly addicting. But having gained some distance from the META is freeing. There's suddenly more time for what's really important to me in EVE, which is Signal Cartel. In the bargain, the balance with real life obligations has gotten more manageable too.

Cutting back on the META also made me realize that I don't really care all that much about what is going on outside the game. Causes, movements, tirades, witch hunts...not important to me. I log in, I play the game. I focus on my corp responsibilities, fly my ships, join ops when I can, and enjoy bantering with my corpmates and friends in-game. That's enough. EVE is relaxing again, as a recreational activity is meant to be.

None of which is to say that the META is a bad thing. It's just an overwhelming thing. Don't get me wrong. I like being connected to the META, but more and more I prefer to keep it at arm's length. "Get the Balance Right", as an old Depeche Mode song goes. When it comes to EVE, that's always a challenge. Doing it successfully requires a measure of personal discipline and occasionally a good hard chop through the weeds with a sharp axe.


  1. Oh yeah, just when you get out of "i'll check all the newsfeeds again" mode you realize that New Eden doesn't disappear without your attention, and then off you go on your business and get online in peace in the evening.

  2. Dammit Mynxee. Read the words Depeche and Mode. Instant Personal Jesus earworm.

    1. Man, I LOVE that song! Now queuing "Violator"...

  3. A fantastic read and I have been in the same situation for a few weeks now. What is the meta with me?

  4. Thanks Mynxee for the good blog. I found this when I was running routine checks on a neutral in local and found the link in Mynxee's bio. I noticed her corp has 689 members and I commented in my corp chat that I couldn't imagine what it would be like to have that many people in the corp channel, nobody responded. then I saw her comment: "It's so easy to get sucked in and lost amidst the crush and swirl, feeling like you have to keep tuning in to stay afloat, knowing its probably a losing battle, and wondering all the while how EVE has come to dominate every spare moment of your life."

    Oh yeah, now I remember. I was in a highsec corp long ago that was recruiting heavily and went from 40 members or so to 280. We had people in the original core group from England, Ireland, Australia and all over the US. We had fleet actions running missions, mining ops, the occasional war training, it was great, I got to know people.

    Then one day I logged and didn't know anyone in the corp chat. There was cussing and insults and idiotic sexual discussions.. Then there were the wardecs, we'd been noticed. I was new to the game, didn't have a lot of resources but couldn't go mine or do missions because of the certainty of death and destruction. I ressurected my first Eve account and did missions for ISK. High sec missions aren't the best time/reward scenario, so I started an industrial alt. I paid each of the three accounts 3 months at a time and staggered them so that I payed a 3-month sub every month and had 3 active accounts. I had a Caldari mission runner, an Amarr industrialist and a Gallente-Gallente market PvPer. Somewhere in there I also managed to train a Minmitar Hulk pilot.

    I have a small compensation from the Veteran's Administration and I used that to pay the bills. I would get up at 10 or 11 AM, shower, walk to a coffee shop, go eat lunch and then home to crank up Eve. I probably played Eve from 1 PM to 7 PM, ate supper, walked to a different coffee shop and back home to Eve around 9 or 10 PM. Fortunately down time was fairly lengthy and pretty much forced me into bed at 4 Am. Let me count... that's around 11 hours of sitting in front of my PC per day. I probably went for an extended walk in the nearby mountains once or twice a week, so I would only be on Eve 6 hours those days. I'm counting over 70 hours of PC time per week, most of it in the Eve client and some reading how to play Eve or messing with Evefit and Evemon. Can you say 'fanatic'? I really enjoyed my intense time with Eve, especially when I was doing it with certain people, but I didn't pay enough attention to my real life and it all came crashing down around me. For a long time I could only play Eve once in a while.

    Seven years later, I'm older and wiser and frankly, tired of gaming as much. I finally made the move to nullsec with my mission running toon who just passed 50 million skill points. I can finally fly most of the ships I wanted to fly, pretty well. I'm in a small corp in a small alliance of mining alts and PvP pros. I rat and do a little PI and am just starting to learn about real PvP and life in Null. I can log in, scan a data site, run a combat site or two, and nobody bothers me much except to ask me to kill an occasional belt rat. Sometimes I get involved in a fleet op, the opportunities are plentiful. Only about half the time someone responds to one of my witty comments in alliance or corp chat and I'm ok with that. But it's still about the people. In Teamspeak people are somewhat polite and professional. If someone has a real question or issue others go out of their way to help. I feel good, I feel relaxed. Could it be I've finally found a home in New Eden?

    1. Thanks for taking the time to share your story. I think any of us who've played for a fair amount of time have been there, done that in terms of playing for an unhealthy number of hours every day. There used to be somewhere (maybe it's a tool provided by Chribba, but might have been prior to the new API being implemented a few years ago) you could see a total of logged in hours since the start of your EVE career. Seeing that I was playing an average of 20 hours a week (prior to CSM) was rather sobering when I thought about what else I could have done with that time that would benefit me in real life. I try to keep that in mind when EVE starts being too demanding or when I feel "guilty" for not logging in for a couple of days. It's just a game. :P

      I'm glad you've found a comfy home in New Eden. That may be the most important player retention factor there is, especially for those of us who might be characterized as casual players.