Needless to say, our band of merry industrialists (and, in my case, pirate in training) was drawing a lot of heat from other corps, and these other corps had a lot more manpower than six or seven newbies with chips on their shoulders. By the time the second corp declared war on us and blew a few of us out of the sky, the talk at work turned ugly.

Accusatory looks got cast at Shannon from across the room, and two camps quickly formed: those of us who didn't particularly care and those of us who felt death's sting. And in EVE, death really stings. We were no longer a group of buddies playing games, we were a disjointed group of junkies and half of us didn't like the way the other half rolled. Rather than talking about which skills to train next or where the best missions were, we were arguing between sending enemy corps money as peace offerings and trying to pick off their individual members as we could. Half of us desired peace. Half of us desired guerilla war.

The worst part, though, was we all liked the game in our own ways. We trumped the "screensaver" crack after getting through the awkward newbie experience, and we all found a niche rather quickly. A few of us got into the tactical side of truly 3-D combat, Erik loved the idea of being a space-trucker able to make millions in a single run across the galaxy, and the rest of the contingent really enjoyed mining ore and producing tons of player-created objects. All in all, we had the potential to become a pretty good corp, despite our size, if only we could get around Shannon's insatiable need to piss off miners.

That's how the disintegration started. The unspoken understanding between all of us that the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one seeped into everything we did as a group. While those of us in the pro-war faction tried to keep the peace within the group, Shannon's antics, combined with our own, were too volatile to jive with the guys who were just trying to make a buck.

Pretty soon, no one was working with anyone. What's worse, no one was talking about EVE in the office. The best part of playing together was replaced with aggressive silence, everyone daring one another to bring up the fact our play styles were utterly incompatible. The high we'd been chasing finally arrived, but it all affected us in personally different ways.

One by one, we began to drop off. Shannon was the first to go, but the exodus commenced shortly thereafter. Once the levee broke, it was a lot easier for all of us to make our departure from EVE and head off in our own directions for a while, looking for our own thing before inviting the rest of the group into it.

What was most interesting during our period of virtual self discovery was the talk around the office, though, and how each world would interact and merge with the others. My 30 second KotOR2 review mingled with Jon's EQ2 story, which somehow got JR and Erik onto their misadventures in WoW. Really, it's less about the game and more about the BS session at the coffee machine. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what world you're in, as long as you're in it with someone.

Joe Blancato is a Content Editor for [i]The Escapist Magazine[/I].

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