One of the biggest news this week was the destruction of more than a $1,000 worth of virtual goods in EvE Online. Massively.com broke the news that a pilot got shot down while carrying 74 PLEX, which are 30-day time codes worth roughly 22 billion ISK. The valuable cargo got vaporized as a result of the firefight and game forums are feasting on the ensuing drama.
As I lurked the message boards, I noticed that the high-profile kill convinced a slew of non-EvE gamers to try out the space MMO. This is an extremely interesting reaction showing how EvE is the Wild Wild West alternative to the carebear carnivals of World of Warcraft and its ilk.
What’s the motivation behind this thirst for danger? My guess is that more than mimicking the epic kill themselves, these curious gamers simply want a front-row seat to the juicy aftermath. Rumors already suggest that the aggrieved pilot who got blown up–and lost a huge portion of her alliance’s war funds–has ragequit and that the alliance itself is tittering on disbandment.
Even I got the urge to re-activate my long dormant Gallente pilot after several hours of reading the possible ramifications of the PLEX loss. The social fabric of EvE is arguably the closest to real life–and its appeal to thrill-seekers is palpable.
Maybe if more MMOs adopt the player-driven sandbox features and single-shard environment of EvE, then the game’s hold on social realism might loosen. But now all everyone can do is watch EvE lap up the viral publicity it never planned but indirectly fostered within its spacious game parameters.