One of my favorite PhD's in this new science is Nick Yee. Though most of his research has been using World of Warcraft, his studies are scientifically based and apply to gaming in general - even Eve Online. By reading his findings, one can get an appreciation for the various types of players that exist in all games. It also sheds light on the personalities of the players that adopt certain play styles. The fascinating thing of this is, we all use play styles in our every day lives whether we realize it or not. Sometimes we call them habits. Sometimes we call them talent. Sometimes (most times?) we don't even know we are doing it. These behaviors become predictable as the retail chain Target proved. They can even predict a young woman's best kept secret.
So back to Nick Yee and how this all applies to Eve Online. Nick has developed a list of basic player motivations derived from the older Bartle's list of MUD player types. This isn't just his best guess. The man has a PhD on this subject. These are scientifically quantified behaviors. Here is what he's determined the basic motivations for playing a MMORPG are (descriptions are my paraphrasing; You can read the full descriptions here:)
- Relationship - the desire to form meaningful relationships.
- Immersion - the desire to make it "real."
- Grief - the desire to use other players to get ahead.
- Achievement - the desire to become powerful.
- Leadership - the only one not linked to desire, it is gregarious assertiveness.
Now, to the subject. These are motivations that apply not to just to carebears or Goons. They are not defined by null-sec or high-sec. These motivations exist every location and in every capsuleer. They are, at their very heart, basic human drives. A carebear craves to become powerful in terms of ISK so they are an achiever just as much as The Mittani is an achiever with his powerful coalition. The Mittani also displays Leadership whether you care to admit it or not. The Goons are - 'nuf said. But so does Chribba (and if you don't know what he's done for Eve shame on you.) He's a carebear!
One important thing to remember is these are not pure categories. We all incorporate some of each into our personal motivations. We choose which motivation to follow but that does not mean we don't have other motivations. Under The Mittani are many more who have the leadership motivation. Those same pilots may have achievement and grief motivations as well. At what point does achievement trump loyalty and grief come into play?
So what are the possible motivations of other Eve play styles? What about pirates? I'd say they are perhaps motivated in the areas of relationship (with other pirates of course) and perhaps grief. They are also inclined to immersion so long as it pertains to pirating - YARR!. There may be a healthy dose of achievement in there too. How many kills do you have?
A good immersion oriented Eve play style is the Militia capsuleer. They are in an ongoing story up to their eyeballs with faction warfare. But, are they not also motivated by grief? And what of the griefer? Is grief their only motivation or does achievement guide them as well? Do they typically fail at the leadership motivation? Who wants to follow a liar, thief and murderer? No, wait, don't answer that. I'm in enough trouble already.
Knowing all this, you can understand why the Goon's attempt to declare war on high-sec was a flawed idea to begin with. They see high-sec as filled with carebears who would all run or capitulate. They saw them as achievers only, interested in making ISK to the exclusion of all else and willing to run, hide or un-subscribe rather than give up their achiever dreams. That's a stereotype of the worst sort. It ignores the other motivations completely. Without considering those, the Goons didn't grok there are those in high-sec that will allow their other motivations to come to the front - like grief. That's how you get stuck in a mutual war.
But we all stereotype. Didn't I see the Goons as Reavers bent on eating us all? (Not really but I love Firefly, don't you?) It seems to be human nature to stereotype. It is a very bad planning tool. To assume high-sec players are not also motivated by relationships, immersion, leadership and even grief is to make a fatal mistake. Pure achievers will give up if they are denied their only motivation. But their motivations aren't monolithic and it only takes the right impetus to move a high-sec carebear from one position to another. What turns a high-sec carebear corp into a griefer corp? Evidently it's a war-dec from Goonswarm and a CEO with a predilection to achievement and perhaps an ounce of leadership. But in general, it's a bunch of players who are not only achievers but also have these other motivations who simply get nudged out of their preferred play style. This could have been predicted.
So the next time you greet another capusleer in local or start-up a private chat, ask yourself what really motivates them. If you understand that, and you understand your own motivations, you have a much better chance of having fun. There are those who can do this innately. We call them "born leaders" and "gurus" and such. For the rest of us, it takes work. A good place to start is Nick Yee's research.
Oh, and speaking of his research, one of his recent papers really made a surprising discovery. Did you know most PvPers are young guys with children who play in the evening? Seriously! Read Through the Azerothian Looking Glass: Mapping In-Game Preferences to Real World Demographic. It's excellent! And try to figure out why guys with children have this need to just kill everything in game will you? It may just help you understand why game companies like CCP do what they do - but that's a different post altogether.
(And that's it for awhile. I'm taking a RL vacation starting tomorrow so this blog will be quiet for almost two weeks. I won't be able to log in either: no Internet. I am not running away from the war-dec as some have accused. I've been on every night since it started for crap sake! But my RL job requires I plan my year's vacations before the end of the previous year and I'm not giving up some genuine relaxation for the effing Goons. So "sod off" to anyone who says otherwise. I'm going where there are barely old fashioned telephone lines and enjoying some much deserved time off with the family!)