Players as Content and the Victim Mindset

Yes, it’s a long post. But hopefully you’ll find it more interesting (and comprehensible) than the average rant. I also provided a TLDR at the bottom.

Background Info on Players as Content

Matthew Woodward (formerly CCP Greyscale) said in a GDC lecture that players are the content in Eve Online (IIRC, it was this one).

Now, from a developer perspective, this has the advantage of being extremely economical. Unlike themepark content, which can be burnt through, players can provide each other with infinite content (see Street Fighter, Mario Kart, Team Fortress, or any other PvP game that people can play for years and years).

Naturally, infinite content is also good from a player’s perspective, but there are other advantages as well.

  • Infinite Content
  • Challenge- Players are smarter, more adaptable, and more unpredictable than NPC A.I.'s… well, at least some players are.
  • Variety- Players are not only unpredictable, but in a persistent sandbox, they can change the world state (i.e. mine out belts, erect structures, set up gate camps, etcetera)
  • Relatedness- competition set in a persistent world provides relatedeness, or the feeling that you are connected to, can influence, and be influenced by a larger world and the players in it (this comes from Scott Rigby’s psychology research on intrinsic motivation, which apparently influenced Eve Online’s design).
  • Optimization Towards Boredeom- All of this also makes it harder for players to optimize towards boredom (which is the tendency for players to try to find the most efficient way to make number go up, and then do it over and over and over and over). And according to Woodward, this is the 3rd most powerful driving force for players after variable ratio schedules (see skinner box) and Time To Penis (which is the amount of time it takes for players to make a penis using any mechanics that allow for a penis to be made).

Of course, players as content does have some disadvantage, such as:

  • the need to have friends or an internet connection
  • they tend to provide a higher level of challenge than many players might prefer
  • and the need to have some sort of mechanics in place that allow players of different player skill levels and/or character power levels to coexist together (i.e. matchmaking, a flat power curve, and/or what I refer to as “fight or flight mechanics”)

So, like many things in game design, there are tradeoffs with this approach.

Players Are the Content In Eve Online

Yes, players are the content in Eve online, but this is not the bad interpretation. This is one of the things that makes Eve great -and I say this as someone who is invested in, and values, both, PvP and PvE play styles. Let’s face it -the PvE in Eve kind of sucks. No one is going to gush about the minute to minute game play of PvE in Eve, like they do forgames like Warframe. Eve’s PvE, in and of itself, is serviceable at best. However… however, the presence of UPvP (unrestricted PvP), the competitive nature of the game, and the ability of players to alter the world state elevates it. It takes repetitive and boring content, and introduces danger, unpredictability, and excitement. It facilitates emergent game play opportunities. It leads to fights, harrowing escapes, and opportunities to play the hero. It means that players can’t just optimize towards boredom, and instead have to adapt to changing circumstances. And it makes their achievements more satisfying and meaningful. Needless, to say, I think that players being each other’s content is a good thing.

However, as you may or may not have noticed, many players have a different take when it comes to players as content. They don’t look at like, “we are each other’s content,” and more like, “CCP is setting me up to be other people’s content.” They will complain about things like CCP designing alphas to be content for Omegas, newbros designed to be content for vets, and say things such as, “I’m not against PvP; I’m against PvV -or player versus victim.” Which I think really cuts to the heart of the matter -their victim mindset.

No one is a victim because CCP has designed certain types of players to be victims. They are victims because they have a victim mindset. Instead of using the tools available to them in order to figure out PvP avoidance, risk management, and/or how to fight back, they cry about being other people’s content, how unfair the game is, and/or lobby for CCP to nerf their enemies.

And, unfortunately, this is a mindset that reinforces itself. See, if you have a strong external locus of control and believe that there is nothing you can do to get better outcomes, you will give up easily, or not try at all, which will lead to more bad outcomes, that will reinforce your belief that there is nothing you can do. However, if you have a strong internal locus of control, and believe that you can get better outcomes through improved knowledge and execution, it will make you want to improve your knowledge and execution, which will lead to better outcomes, which will reinforce your belief that Eve is harsh but fair, and that the only thing standing in the way of people’s success is their brains, attitude, and determination. Naturally, the tendency for these perspectives to lead to outcomes that “confirm” the correctness of the perspective, makes it really hard to talk someone out of their mindset once they start thinking that way. So, one of my main motivations for making this post was to try to catch some players before they fell into the trap.

The other reason is that I lament how much CCP has been trying to cater to the guys that want a kindler, gentler Eve. I know, I know, everyone and their grandma thinks that Eve’s falling player numbers are because CCP has failed to cater to their particular tastes. But here’s the kicker -they might actually be right. In fact, we all might be right. See, it looks to me like CCP has been trying to have it both ways. They have been trying to cater to the more casual mainstream audience, as well as to the HTFU guys that want a challenging UPvP game. The problem, however, is that these are audiences with mutually exclusive values and priorities -and the end result is a compromise that no one is happy with.

Yes, players are the content in Eve Online. However, that doesn’t mean that CCP designed for you to be other players’ victims. Ultimately, whether or not you play the victim will be decided by your attitude, and how you respond to adversity and setbacks.

Second, I suspect that Eve is having a bit of an identity crisis, by trying to appeal to players with very different tastes -those who actually want Eve to be a cold, dark, and harsh world, and those who want a “Westworld-style” game, where players can pretend that they’re overcoming adversity in a dangerous world, when in reality, they can’t lose and are in no danger.

Context for ISD's

The following quote came from a thread that was closed for being redundant (i.e. the question was asked and answered in the official patch notes thread). However, I saw a post in the closed thread that I could not let go unchallenged. And no, I do not consider this to be in violation of the rule of reopening closed threads, because I’m not trying to discuss that which is related to the original question asked, discuss anything that is more appropriate for the official dev thread, nor am I trying to circumvent forum moderation. I think this is an interesting topic in and of itself, and one worthy of discussion. It just that it so happens that someone said something that is relevant to this discussion in a thread that got closed for being redundant.

So, here we are.


Sounds like something a griefer would say. :thinking:


I am invested in both pve and pve also and I agree with what you have stated.

Well done and don’t listen to the haters.

/wait that mean’t to be pve and pvp ^^^

// [quote=“Shipwreck Jones, post:1, topic:373239, username:Shipwreck_Jones”]
victim mindset.
I can rp this out very well and is the reason why I am always calling out when they don’t deliver like today I looked but noone was there to take down my hauler.


i find PVE in eve , except for high end like top abyssal etc, zen
the same as mining ice , or playing PowerWash Simulator…
somewhere in space , me and my paladin , zapping rats , colorful lasers , booom , booom , listening to some podcast , unaware of real life…
what a joy

and yet …
players are indeed content , a wild tengu appear , 1000 catalysts , booom . booom , I’m dead

i find PVP in eve exiting , like Evo moment 37
somewhere in space in my spiky phantasm … cruising at top speed , with a knife in my mouth
arrr I’m a pirate , Dscam , its a target , pre overheat
close range , scram , web , drones out , conflag

and yet …
players are indeed content
its a deimos ,OP AF, booom, booom , I’m dead

F U daigo

but I’m no victim , not me , nor justin wong


Im not reading all that.

Well done.



Whichever is appropriate.


this is the best part’


Players were always the content in Eve, as soon as you start shooting rats it shows up on the map so hunters would know to come looking. It was the first disappointment I had with Eve as a survival game in that the hunters were given a leg up like that…

So when you say victims were not designed to be victims, cough…


But Dracvlad, think of it this way:

Shooting rats gives both ISK and the opportunity to lure hunters, which with the right setup can make them the hunted instead. Set up a nice trap while you’re killing NPCs and instead of hunting you can wait for the bait to come to you.

It wouldn’t be the first time we dropped on some ship with a few bombers, only to find out they were expecting us, or rather, waiting for us and got us killed. These are the fun stories I remember of when I went hunting, that time we nearly got the Rorqual, or that time we dropped bombers at 0 on a Rokh only to find out it had a full rack of smartbombs…

This is what makes EVE great: your enemies are players and players can be outsmarted by doing very unpredictable things.

Outsmarting your enemies and having fun requires players to get out of the victim mindset though.


You are going off on a wild tangent on what I said, the issue is that knowledge of active players was handed to hunters on a plate as content, nothing more than that. I found that very disappointing when I realised and thought less of the game because of it.

NB I can’t call them hunters with that level of a leg up to be honest…


But Dracvlad, is it in any way exceptional that you think less of something that isn’t yourself?


Straight to the personal attacks when I say something you don’t like, how unoriginal…

Hunting is not hunting if finding prey is made so easy, simple enough to understand and the reason you decided to be insulting to me. How boring and pathetic, like the two idiots that liked your post, and there I was thinking that the forums were supposed to be an open and friendly place to exchange views. Silly me…


ie: We don’t like victims.
This one takes it without complaining… :hugs: like a champ one might say.

ie: If you don’t lose anything real: money, self-esteem, time, dignity… then you’re not a real EVE player
Oh my… Aye-aye, sir
I’ve already spent money, and time, sir! Will spend more in my pursuit of pixel pleasure, sir-yes-sir!
As for the Self-esteem and Dignity: This is a GAME sir, of course I don’t need those. Check my brain at the door and do as I’m told like a good little trooper, sir-YES-sir!!

Thanks for the thread.

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Its not hunting if you have to go to a game park to hunt

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This mechanic goes the other way.

In addition to laying traps as Gerard says, in FW space it is common for people to warp-cancel to all the FW plexes. That was there’s every single one opened and listed in your overview, and while there might be militia in local (or might not, people do this across multiple systems) it then takes traditional offensive D-Scanning and warping around to get within 14.3 AU of everything and figure out who is where and judge which ships out there could come and might come to the defender’s aid.

Even still, with all this negated, people still use empty frig hulls to plex without a care in the world, because it turns out it is still dangerous even when the overview broadcast “advantage” is accounted for. Because of this, I’d argue beacons aren’t the salient concern.

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Ho hum, the point was never how you game the mechanic, but how the mechanic exists in the first place, to enable people to quickly home in on content which are players doing stuff. Not difficult to understand that this is built into the game from the start.

So it is a ridiculous thing to start a thread about because everyone should know it based on the game mechanic of showing player activity on a map. Please state the obvious and make a big thing about it for reasons?

I was disappointed with this mechanic because it made hunters less than hunters in the game design. Players are designed to be victims, nothing much else to say…


I suspect that simply the fact of making the game available on Steam creates a lot of curiosity from a part of the gaming community that would otherwise never attempt a harsh, dark, full on pvp game like EvE, coupled with the fast consumption rate of games (that do not rely on ‘players’ as content) via that service. Many are called, few are eligible. Those that don’t match the criteria of the “normal” EvE player profile are most likely the ones that do 95% of the complaining about how (pick one) harsh, unfair, unbalanced, toxic, unwelcoming, non-inclusive the game is in their opinion. Perhaps they are the ones you refer to as having a ‘victim’ mindset. If anything, they are the victim of their choice to try this game, see and like the cherries on the cake, but react poorly to the taste of the cake they have to eat as a whole.

It would be informative to see the results of a query “how did you learn about the game EvE” (steam, magazine, friends, etc), and match the numbers with the retention rate.

I fully agree with your statement about an identity crisis of the game. The sad part is that this crisis is completely fabricated, perhaps even points at an internal identity clash within the company. How ever good the intentions may be for a massive effort like the NPE, it does not and will not result in a higher PCU, or a higher retention rate.

My gratuitous advice to ccp would be 1) to advertise honestly about the true nature of EvE Online - that would increase the retention rate and reduce the whining; 2) to revert most of the scarcity related changes (except rorqual/orca adjustments), including industry changes (the ‘why’ would be a lengthy post…). That would bring back a lot of the fun and visible potential for growth in the game, a lot of currently dormant omega accounts and increase the PCU; 3) step away from this ‘idée fixe’ that cap proliferation is a problem that needs to be addressed via scarcity/industry changes, and find an entertaining solution instead for the next two decades; 4) urgently do a round of “fix the stupid” and “fix the bugs” - I’ve honestly never seen the game client in a poorer state than now; 5) regain the trust with the community by having a critical mass of developers, designers, writers, and Quality Control people assigned to EvE Online; 6) be very honest and up front about the difference between Alpha (demo) and Omega (player) status, focusing on the main monetization (subscriptions) scheme (another point where the identity crisis is very visible…)

/wall of text for this week
Keep up fighting for the good cause, @Shipwreck_Jones !!


Gotcha, for some reason I thought you were referring to high sec missions and beacons.

In my experience newbies don’t know about map activity, and from the few times I’ve hunted in null, I learned that the 30 minute granularity (or w/e it is) isn’t good enough for jumps nor NPC kills. Most people are gone by the time you get there, because it is up to 30 minute delayed, unless it is a really busy system, in which case there’s usually a response fleet.

As long as you do your nullsec activity within 30 minute bursts, then go elsewhere, that map “advantage” has now become a misleading indicator for hunters for the next hour.

Newbies don’t know about this on the map, I missed it too when I started playing.

I picked a system that was off D-scan from the gates and blew up my wrecks, and it was a complete waste of time and effort to do that when I realised that there was a map showing that I was active.

The game is designed to identify victims for low effort hunters. And it is clear that this is game design, perhaps Shipwreck did not know this?

In your case you are likely doing level 5’s so you jump all over the place so it does not matter. Though you will be in an area, hunters will see the burst activity and work it out. :slight_smile:

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This is balanced by the perfect intel of knowing instantly that the hunters are in your system. I recommend you do your PvE in wormholes so you are unburdened by these immersion breaking effects.


I agree with you only on that part.

Learn or die. It’s as simple as that. That’s the game.

If that’s the game design - and it certainly looks that way - then I don’t get why people would play EVE for anything other than pew-pew. There are no “victims” in EVE, only players who have chosen the path of most resistance - for reasons only they know - and players who have chosen the path of what this game mainly offers: entertainment by way of PvP.
I figure Shipwreck “knows this”, maybe he figured we all needed a little reminder :reminder_ribbon:
Thanks @Shipwreck_Jones :smiley: