I've noticed games are a lot more fun when I'm not actually playing them.

Let me explain. After I've beaten the final boss, run off a group of PKs or won the Super Bowl, more often than not, I exit the game and look for someone with whom to share my accomplishments. Invariably, the conversation with a friend becomes longer than the original act, percolating into strategic talk, old catchphrases and half-remembered stories of triumph and sorrow in similar situations. And when you play the same games as all your friends, when you start living the games outside of their media, it only gets worse.

I'm part of a group of guys here at work that can only be classified as enablers. Every time I put gaming on the backburner for a new hobby, someone inevitably drags me back. Jon, Producer for the magazine, got us all playing EQ2 for a while. Then, Erik, our Web Developer, convinced me Shadowbane was the place to be. Then Jason, our IT Director, got us all playing Oblivion. We're a group of addicts with ADD, chasing a content high, devouring everything in front of us and burning out like relapsed junkies. It's all about the Fix, and whenever I get away, the guys find something new.

Of course, I'm no better. I've led unsuccessful charges into UO, Shadowbane (not to be confused with Erik's suggestion - we're not immune to landing in the same place twice) and Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines (this one would've worked if it hadn't demolished every PC it touched two Novembers ago). No matter the game, there's always the resultant dialogue. Did you do this quest? Where were you last night? We should form a guild with a stupid name like Tasty Breakfast Treats. Jesus Christ, how did JR (our intrepid Contributing Editor) figure out the best min-maxed template again? When we're at work or out drinking or hanging out at someone's house, our nerd-speak pokes through, a latticework of facts and trash talk connecting over whatever branch we land on.

Most fresh in my mind, though, is our relationship with EVE.

Getting us into the game commonly described as "the best screensaver in the business" was a pretty tough sell; it took two members of the group to drag the rest of us in. Jon and Shannon (our Industry Relations guru) led a two-pronged assault on the rest of the group. I'm the gaming equivalent of a faux-cynical pill popper. I'll talk a lot, but at the end of the day, I'm taking whatever's in front of me; the only way to find fun is to continually look for it, so I was the first to subscribe. Quickly afterward, everyone else fell in line, taken in by Jon's offer of free crap, Shannon's mid-work stories of stealing stuff from other players like a debonair Dread Space Pirate Roberts, and me constantly appending "in spaaaaaaaaaace" to everything I said. How could anyone opt out?

We all jumped in, joining into Jon's corp about as quickly as we were destroying it. Shannon had a couple weeks of skill training on us, and he had already developed a reputation as an ore thief, someone who would fly up to defenseless miners, take their harvested minerals and run off to the nearest station before the miners could call for help. In EVE, ore thieves enjoy a special rung on the social ladder. In the real world, they would be right around white-collar criminals. In EVE, these are the people even murderers look down on.

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