EVE Online and Gamer Historians
The PC is a consistent platform. Its backwards compatibility allow cultures, communities and subcultures to consistently thrive without threat of becoming obsolete. It was the first platform to incorporate mods, and legacy titles like Quake and Team Fortress still have active communities.
A byproduct of PC consistency is the evolution of player run economies and worlds. There are many developers attempting to tap into genres that survive on the strength of the players, and EVE Online is one of the definitive examples. Not only do players rule the economy, they’ve even come to define the lore over the 13 years since its release.
In 2014, Andrew Groen launched a kickstarter for a book that chronicles the rise and fall of empires in the EVE-verse and it isn’t the first attempt to record major events in EVE. Fans have often documented things on the EVE community site and in forums. The EVE devs themselves even created an interactive timeline. Efforts like this solidify the game’s tag as a “Living work of Science Fiction”. The book details the politics, wars and betrayals in the “untamed frontier” of NullSec (no security space) in EVE Online. Essentially, players live out dreams of conquering in a new space age with thousands of other players and Groen attempts to record as much as possible.
The support for Groen’s potential history book was overwhelming, eclipsing the $12,500 goal with over $95k pledged. A response like this is hopefully only the beginning when it comes to diving into gaming beyond its face value and appreciating these digital works on new levels.
A few other new videogames present opportunities for this type of historical record in a similar genre. Elite: Dangerous, a space simulator by Frontier Developments presented their Power Play update early in its launch, giving players a chance to influence different political powers through combat, trade and exploration.
No Man’s Sky is a PS4 exclusive that could present record keeping of a different kind. The game launches in June and some of the narrative details are still under wraps, but the game is deeply involved in exploration as players discover new planets, structures and species. The procedurally generated nature of No Man’s Sky will provide limitless discoveries for many years provided the game keeps players engaged.
As the future of the videogame industry brightens, so grows interest in its past and The National Video Game Museum in Texas, and YouTube personalities such as “Gaming Historian” Norman Caruso stand as prime example of that. Games will only continue to gain interest and one could even imagine a facility (or VR facility) that chronicles fictional timelines much like museum’s follow real life events. Will “fiction historian” carve out a corner in the gaming industry? Will players be interested in becoming digital interstellar zoologists? Time will tell.