“EvE Online has a market economy. Supply and demand regulate the market. If supply drops, then prices increase. Therefore, CCP has no reason to protect carebears from PvP. It should be dangerous to mine, crab, rat, or haul. This will increase rewards for those who engage in active gameplay, and that will improve the game. Risk = Reward.” - Aiko Danuja.
There are those who might disagree with this statement, and claim that returning EvE to its early (and more dangerous) days would be detrimental to its very future.
I am aware of a study CCP Rise quoted that shows ganking has a positive impact on player retention, but the point of my post is from a different perspective. I want to make the argument that experiencing some in-game pressure is good for the player and in the end good for the game itself.
Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Stress is supposed to be bad for you, or so we’re told. That’s partly true: excessive and unrelenting stress is unhealthy: it can lead to both psychological and physiological damage over time. The same can be said about sloth, and about living a life where there’s zero motivation to do better and no challenges to push against.
Stress, within manageable amounts , is crucial to good emotional and physical health.
First of all, it helps information retention. In EvE the ore types in asteroid belts and the services offered in some stations in some systems of New Eden are easier to remember where the security level is lower, or are frequently patrolled by gankers. I also recall the number of hops from system A to system B when it crosses systems of concern better. At work, I can easily recall scheduled meetings and user requests during a project than during the Christmas holidays where things are slower.
Stress forces you to plan better and think before acting. When there’s so much at stake, formulating a backup plan in case something goes south becomes less of a chore to do and more from instinct. I want Isogen for making ships but it’s risky to get and I don’t want to get blown up while trying to get it, so I think over what’s the safer way to get it. I also plan alternatives when my first idea doesn’t work. In other MMOs where risk is lower. I’ve found I made more mistakes while buying things on a player’s market or wander into a game zone I know nothing about and fall off a cliff into a waiting pack of hostile NPCs . In real-life, I’ve made more costly mistakes in my relationships when I’ve gotten too comfortable to the point of letting my guard down or becoming less attuned to the concerns from others.
Stress is the hard swift kick to the pants we all need at some point in our life. In EvE, a ganker is that swift kick, and forces a change in direction. Do you change your mining schedule to a time when the ganker is not around? Do you change your stance to openly aggressing said ganker or take a more defensive posture by flying better tanked exhumers or more disposable ships? Do you change your goals to something more management and less at risk? All that matters is the ganker is introducing a situation that makes you uncomfortable and you want that discomfort to go away. Change, even when pushed by a painful source, is good.
Stress encourages you to collaborate and learn how to socialize. Despite what each of us might think about our capabilities in life and in game, we’re not perfect, all-knowing, and can handle anything thrown at us. There are times we need backup when overwhelmed and must turn to others for help. This in turn builds social ties and strengthens the general playerbase through bonds of camaraderie and friendship. The memories that come from these are more valuable than ISK and ships.
Stress toughens you. HTFU is a retort I’ve read often in the two months I’ve been a player, but there’s also a truth to it. Nietzsche wasn’t wrong: you become more resilient and adaptable from the hurdles and challenges tossed at you in-game.
Finally, in-game stress that comes from a random variety of challenges via innovative gameplay addresses the problem of the diminishing psycological gratification we get from our exposure to a stimulus. My first time completing a group event in other MMOs was always a rush, but became less so after doing them repeatedly. Even trying different events didn’t help because the formula used followed the same pattern. Players over time become bored when challenges become rote and routine.
Maybe a bit of uncertainty and mayhem isn’t such a bad thing after all.