The stagnation in NullSec is nothing surprising for anyone with a basic understanding of human psychology. Psychology and neuroscience teach us that all of human experience can be broken down into two spheres: Order and Chaos. This is the primum materiae of reality; more fundamental than atoms - because even atoms can be in a state of order or chaos.
Order is best described as “the known and the predictable”. Order is what is mapped and mastered. Utility and safety are maximized. Most humans seek order, because order is survival and optimization of resource gains. When you know the territory, and when you know what to expect there, you can extract maximum benefit from the environment, and prepare optimally for any dangers.
However, too much order is no good. Too much order leads to tyranny, rigidity, and stagnation. Prolonged habitation in order makes human systems extremely vulnerable to change, as it reduces adaptive capacity (see below). This ultimately leads to death when the unexpected occurs.
The quest for order (read: security) leads to blue donuts, supercap umbrellas, and massive unrest and unsubbing when a small change upsets that arrangement, as the playerbase has lost their adaptive capacity.
Chaos - Chaos is the unknown and the unpredictable. It is the unexpected - the unmapped and the unmastered. Chaos is at once terror and hope, because the only appropriate attitude to what cannot be known or classified is ambivalence. Chaos is danger, but also opportunity. When you learn something new, you are turning chaos into order. When you first logged into EVE Online, you were experiencing chaos. As you learned, things that took a lot of effort and attention became reflexive - order was being created.
Chaos in an adequate amount is fun, exciting, and engaging. Too much chaos is overwhelming, stressful, and dangerous, leading to phsyiological and psychological damage and ultimately death. Fun chaos was the introduction of WH space or the changes to FW. Players flocked in droves to this gameplay - humans are attracted to the unknown, the new - but eventually these gameplay elements were mapped, ordered, and interest declined. The intrepid early adopters paved the way for more conservative players who are now involved in the “routine” of those gameplay elements.
Optimal human experience exists in a middle line, with just the right amount of order for a safe haven, and just the right amount of chaos to keep things interesting, fun, and growing. Too much order and safety = boredom, stagnation, disengagement, and the inability to adapt to the new. Too much chaos and danger = maladaptive fear, destabilization, psychological overload, and death.
So where does this leave us?
The stagnation and formation of megablocs in NullSec followed a predictable trajectory, one that we’ve seen time and again throughout human history and that all major sociopolitical spheres are currently engaged in in real life: affiliation and consolidation.
Human beings are social animals. Other people are our environment. But we face no greater danger - no greater chaos - than from other people. The best way to deal with this danger and chaos is to turn other people into allies and to adopt social codes, laws, and rules for behavior so that we know what to expect from each other. The social landscape becomes ordered - safe, predictable. This is how we went from a society of competing tribes to a civilization where people from many walks of life can coexist in relative safety and harmony.
Just as the Roman Empire pushed out and expanded, absorbing disparate groups (and many of those groups were eager to join) and assimilating their culture, just as the European Union has consolidated Europe, so too have the major groups in NullSec expanded and consolidated their “social holdings”. In real life this is a great thing - wars become less frequent, smaller, and less bloody (we’ve been on this trend since before the two world wars, but the two world wars accelerated it). But in a video game like EVE Online, it’s a content killer and dreadfully boring.
In this way, due to their psychological makeup, the human players of EVE Online work against their own entertainment and enjoyment of the game. As the custodians of New Eden, it’s CCP’s job to create the optimal amount of chaos and disruption to keep the game engaging and fun.
-more stream of consciousness to come-