Empires of Eve

Empires of Eve is fascinating, at one level. It’s a history of an online universe, told in exhaustive detail. The problem is that it focuses purely on narrative – first one thing happens, then another. There is no sense of the mechanics of how the world works – no analysis of what the underlying causal mechanisms are in a virtual universe.

It’s a disappointing treatment for an interesting topic.


… what Earth and New Eden have in common is humanity. Jealousy, ambition, revenge, greed, hatred, and friendship are at the core of EVE Online. Human emotions and work make up the soul of New Eden, and you’ll find every emotion there that you would in the traditional world.

Groen, Andrew. Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online (Kindle Locations 44-46). Kindle Edition.


When I interviewed Cruse he told me about an old English king whom he’d taken inspiration from. It’s the story of King Henry II of England in the 12th century who was traveling through Britain, putting down rebellions in his various territories. At one point he traveled to Ireland and put down a rebellion, only to be informed he’d have to go back to London to suppress an even larger one. The trouble was that his army had dwindled, and to make matters worse he was forced to travel through potentially hostile territory— Wales— to get there.

King Henry’s astonishing solution was to pretend he was the reincarnation of the legendary King Arthur. He hired seamstresses to create great white banners bearing Arthur’s sigil, a red dragon. He hired minstrels and storytellers to travel ahead of his army to tell stories of how Arthur had been seen again after hundreds of years. According to the tale, he arrived on the shores of Wales that winter with basically nothing except his knights dressed in exceptionally flashy garb. For whatever reason, the people of Wales bought it. Not only did Henry II gain safe passage through the territory, but the Welsh people joined his army by the thousands.

Groen, Andrew. Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online (Kindle Locations 734-738). . Kindle Edition.


Being a leader also means being an event creator for your people. If a leader wants to retain their pilots’ loyalty then they need to offer them a steady stream of fun.

Groen, Andrew. Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online (Kindle Locations 1926-1927). . Kindle Edition.


In EVE Online there’s an influential theory known as a “failure cascade”— initially developed by Goonswarm’s The Mittani— which describes how large-scale social groups disintegrate. The idea behind a failure cascade is that a social group is like a stack of bricks. Remove a brick, and some others that relied on it for support might come tumbling down. On their way down, they might dislodge other blocks, and so on. The chief tenant of the failure cascade is that no individual in the alliance knows they’re in the midst of one until it’s too late to stop.

Groen, Andrew. Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online (Kindle Locations 2468-2472). . Kindle Edition.


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