How to Write a History of Video Game Warfare
April 6, 2016 11:56 AM   Subscribe

How to Write a History of Video Game Warfare - A look at journalist Andrew Groen's new book, Empires of Eve, a detailed history of The Great War in Eve Online, a MMORPG of spaceships, star systems, intrigue, betrayal, and diplomacy.

And for a more academic look at the game, Internet Spaceships Are Serious Business, also recently published. (Link for those with university Shibboleth access)
posted by Argyle (12 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
I kickstarted this book and am thrilled with the result. I was a very small participant in some of the events that are documented, so it's been really fun to read back on that time with a more global perspective. And Eve is a great petri dish for social and economic experiments.
posted by Nelson at 12:07 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I kickstarted this book as well and have been mentioning it in every EVE thread here over the last couple years and some other places as well. The backers got eBook copies a couple weeks and damn is this thing super fun to read.

I've never played the game for all the reasons people usually give for not playing, but I've always loved reading about the completely insane political intrigue, con job, spymaster stuff that goes on, and this book is all of those neat blog posts taken to its logical conclusion: A history book about fake internet spaceships.

In fact, as books about ficitonal spaceships go, you're unlikely to read a better one this year (in part because the people are real even if the spaceships aren't).
posted by sparkletone at 12:29 PM on April 6, 2016


OK, I'm interested in this, but based on watching the video at the site, I have some questions - does the book get into what exactly happened at Innsmother? How did the coalition overwhlem the Russians there, in terms of battle tactics/strategy, etc? Similarly, how did the Russians hold out at C-J6MT against overwhelming odds? I want to know the how, not just that they did.
posted by nubs at 12:45 PM on April 6, 2016


My favorite bit about the GSF teaming up with the Russians is that somebody, I think The Mittani (who sends his regards) mentioned that getting on Teamspeak with them sounded like people whose "language sounded like murder."

I haven't had a chance to read my copy yet, but I do hope the herald that was Roy of CA gets a description. o7
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:15 PM on April 6, 2016


OK, I'm interested in this, but based on watching the video at the site, I have some questions - does the book get into what exactly happened at Innsmother? How did the coalition overwhlem the Russians there, in terms of battle tactics/strategy, etc? Similarly, how did the Russians hold out at C-J6MT against overwhelming odds? I want to know the how, not just that they did.

Yep.

To paraphrase from the book on how the Russians held out at C-J6MT:
- Coalition ships arrived, massive but weakly organized (a disparate variety of ships without any specific strategy in mind).
- Red Alliance members were outfitted all the same, flying in packs of ten.
- Coalition artillery ships unload on the Red Alliance starbase.
- Red Alliance swarms the artillery ships, forcing the Coalition ships to try to protect its artillery ships.
- During this time the defensive starbase starts popping Coalition ships.
- The Red Alliance ten-member packs were selecting out specific targets to focus fire down.
- At the end, the starbase was at full health, and the Coalition had lost hundreds of ships.

This particular battle isn't actually that interesting, but yes, the book goes into the strategy and tactics involved in these military conflicts as much as reality permits. There are much more interesting battles and such covered.
posted by Dalby at 1:55 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I backed it, I like it, and I'm a fan of the author's - that said, I wish he'd have included at least a couple more years' worth of history, and I thought that the book tended to be a little stenographic in some places. I just wish he'd gotten a little farther past general amazement at the amount of time and treasure spent on the game - "look, they make propaganda posters!" - and maybe found a broader point than the plain fact of EVE's uniqueness.

But to be clear, these are relatively minor quibbles - it's a great read, and I'm probably a little jaded about the subject as a former player. People who aren't coming to the book from an EVE background will find it plenty enlightening and well worth their time.

(And yes, as others are already pointing out, he does a fantastic job summarizing some of the major battles, which is not easy to do.)
posted by ColdOfTheIsleOfMan at 1:56 PM on April 6, 2016


I know for sure—no one will tell me who it is because it’s kind of a secret—but I do know that, somewhere out there, there is a corporation in EVE that is run exclusively by Fortune 500 CEOs.

I'm very curious about how he knows this for sure; it's a spectacular little anecdote, but certainly the kind of fact that is so cool, one wishes it was real. I'd love to know how he verified this without knowing which corporation it is.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:52 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Running a large, relevant EVE corp is not compatible with a CEO's real life job. Maybe a CEO could be the leader/figurehead, but the middle manager core of a major EVE corp is made up of the self-employed, unemployed, disabled, and students.

As someone who has run an EVE member corp, and knows many other people in corp leadership across several alliances, an all RL CEO run EVE corp is just a silly idea. Either that corp is just four guys who fly around lowsec doing micro gang stuff, not anything big, or more likely, the journalist misunderstood the story.
posted by ryanrs at 4:00 PM on April 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


tbh I would be even more in love with the story if it was that hypothetical: "Here in this world of anonymous skullduggery is where I can be my true self: an extremely boring little pud who quietly mines for minerals for hours at a stretch"
posted by Greg Nog at 4:23 PM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


For the more than 500,000 people who play EVE Online

500,000 accounts (if it really still is that high) does not mean 500,000 people.
posted by Slothrup at 4:33 PM on April 6, 2016


tbh I would be even more in love with the story if it was that hypothetical: "Here in this world of anonymous skullduggery is where I can be my true self: an extremely boring little pud who quietly mines for minerals for hours at a stretch"

Mining is so relaxing! It's like a slightly interactive screensaver, with music (mining is the only time I ever played with the sound turned on). I have done junior management in a big corp before, and it was fun in lots of ways, but it was also, well, management, with staff meetings and spreadsheets. And one of my jobs was to try to stop spies infiltrating us, which sounds super-exciting, but in reality... less so than you'd think. (This was a few years ago back when everyone wanted to be the next Mittani and it was all spies all the time, so we had tons of really, really inept 'spies' applying to join us, and after a while they all start looking much the same.)

I haven't played for years and I get emails from CCP every so often trying to coax me back with special reactivation offers, pointing out various Big Universe-Changing Things! that are happening in the game. But huge fleet fights and big nullsec territory wars aren't really the things I miss about EVE. I mean, yeah it's exciting on a big scale, but it's not really day-to-day fun unless you can seriously put in the hours.

(On the other hand, if they ever send a reactivation offer that promises to hook those of us with very limited free time up with a friendly, casual-player corp where I could just zip around doing my own industrialist/ratting/exploration thing, chatting to corpmates, and joining in fleets whenever, no pressure - then I'd probably be back like a shot.)
posted by Catseye at 5:32 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Verge put up a nice piece about the book today that does a good job explaining the appeal of it even if you're not into EVE itself.
posted by sparkletone at 9:23 AM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


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