Join or Die

Join or Die
Don't Ever Take Sides Against the Corp Again

Mark Wallace | 13 Sep 2005 12:00
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My Brooklyn neighborhood has grown a bit hipsterish lately, with a proliferation of coffee shops, juice bars, high-toned restaurants and suspiciously Manhattan-like clothing boutiques, all patronized by the bright young things moving in, crowding the sidewalk where we who've lived here for a few years have gotten used to walking unobstructed. It's still a mix of old and new, though, with people like me caught in the middle. Here and there you can still find long-time residents, aging Italians mostly, whose families have been around these streets for generations.

It's often on the sidewalks that you spot them, standing around chomping unlit cigars or sitting on folding chairs in front of open doorways. A quick glance inside as you pass reveals some cracked linoleum and maybe a dusty portrait of Garibaldi hanging on a dingy wall. The image that comes to mind, of course, is of Marlon Brando in The Godfather. Somewhere back there, you want to believe, lurks the Don, muttering cryptic platitudes about family and respect - or if not the Don, then at least some local boss, complaining about the yuppies and groping for a bottle of Tums.

My neighborhood in the MMOG Eve Online has a similar feel to it. You can't smoke cigars in your capsule, of course, but other than that, they're much the same. It has to do with how we got there, who showed us the ropes.

At one time, of course, the Italians were the arrivistes. The Italians, the Irish, the Jews - all the waves of immigrants to the United States in the nineteenth century - didn't just appear on these shores with Amex Blue in hand, dial up Craigslist and land a job at a publishing house. They got their start in America the same way I got my start in Eve.

After a couple of months of wandering around Eve's 5,000-plus star systems, I've been making my main base in Piekura, a slightly down-at-the-heels system next door to a sketchier neighborhood (just as the back window of the apartment I've lived in for the last six years looks out over some projects a block or two away, which I make sure not to walk through after nightfall).

Piekura isn't that far from Todaki, where I was first put in my pod, and where new graduates of the School of Applied Knowledge (SAK) show up every day. You know the type: They still like to buy their own missiles instead of manufacturing them, and think mining in high-security space is the most thrilling way to make some fast InterStellar Kredits (ISK). Just like the people who've been moving into my Brooklyn neighborhood: They still travel to work in Manhattan, of all places, and it's their $800 strollers that are clogging the jump gates - I mean, sidewalks. As far as I'm concerned, the Lonetrek region of Eve and the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn might as well be one and the same.

So where are the aging Italians in Eve? Where is the Don? Where's the dusty social club in which the heads of the families gather after church on Sundays?

They're in the corp chat channel, of course.

When you first become a capsuleer in Eve (i.e., when you enter the game), you're assigned to a corporation. At first, you're in one of the newbie corps like SAK. Most of the people on your channel are wondering why their autopilot is telling them they can't get there from here (the autopilot defaults to sissy mode, avoiding the more dangerous systems), or what the best way to make money is (whichever way you most enjoy). It's a far more focused channel than general newbie help, but it still devolves pretty often into discussions of real-world politics, nVidia versus ATI or how Eve compares to Freelancer or Earth & Beyond.

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