Its been an interesting few months for EVE related books. First off with the release of Dark Horses EVE:Valkyrie comic book series, and the highly anticipated book by Andrew Groen - Empires Of EVE there is probably one book which you may or may not have noticed.
Internet Spaceships Are Serious Business: An EVE Online Reader was released this month as probably one of the first sustained analysis of EVE Online, at least from an academic perspective. With contributions from well known EVE personas such as The Mittani, the book covers a wide range of subjects, from studies of the Fountain War to an account of the early-development of EVE by former CCP Games ?Universe Architect?. Internet Spaceships Are Serious Business give a broad perspective on EVE online and the people who play it
The man behind the book is Marcus Carter, a Research Fellow in the Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces, at The University of Melbourne. He recently completed his PhD last year on 'Treacherous Play in EVE Online'. One look at his Google Scholar page, you can get a sense of the sorts of things he has written about.
Basically, I am an academic in Game Studies & Human-Computer Interaction. I started studying EVE Online in 2011, where I was interested initially in how the game's communities construct our identities as players, and how that impacts our experience of the game of EVE Online. My PhD focused more specifically on the experience, practices and impacts of treacherous play in EVE Online, so scamming, skulduggery in eveSports & espionage. From an academic perspective, EVE Online is a fascinating game to study (and play), as it forces us to reassess many of the assumptions that have been made about what a game is, and what role things like trust and lying have in 'successful' game experiences. I have since been awarded my PhD and I now work at the Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces at The University of Melbourne where I continue to do research into 'transgressive' play (e.g., kidnapping in dayz) but mostly I now look at emerging game interfaces.
In 2012 Marcus teamed up with Dr. Kelly Bergstrom and Dr. Darryl Woodford who were also doing their own PhD's on EVE Online after MIT Press had published a book on World of Warcraft in 2008. This book was groundbreaking as it was the first of its kind to examine a MMOG in depth from a variety of different academic perspectives.
We felt that EVE was sufficiently substantive to warrant such an investigation, and organised academic workshops at the Digital Games Research Association conference, and the Foundations of Digital Games conference. These ? and a public call for contributions ? drew approx 20 submissions from which we put together the collection.
Though this is an academic collection, it has been written & assembled so that EVE players interested in the academic study of EVE will find it interesting, both to reflect on their own practices and also to provide insight into parts of EVE that are often concealed from players.
The book itself does boast an impressive list of EVE Personas who have contributed to the project including: former CCP Developer and 'Universe Architect' Kjartan Emilsson (aka CCP Lekjart), EVEs most trusted and celebrated player Chribba, and EVE most notorious tyrant The Mittani.
The latter chapter in particular contributes some insight into EVE's pre-history that I don't think has been published elsewhere. That we can include players alongside academics really speaks volumes about the depth and richness of EVE Online, and I think the contribution that EVE has to make to game scholarship more broadly. Chribba's chapter is fantastic, accounting to outsiders the fascinating role he plays in the EVE community, while providing a first-hand history to EVE players familiar with him in the game.
I asked Marcus what sort of challenges he faced while writing this study.
In terms of challenges, it's just not possible to capture everything about EVE in one book. This collection is a snapshot of parts of EVE, at a very particular moment in time. Recent changes to skill-training, for example, will likely impact the way we conceptualise and value time in EVE Online, altering the experience of EVE in a lot of nuanced ways. I think we've done a pretty good job though of capturing what makes EVE so unique and compelling for players, and its my hope that non-EVE players and academics will find this a fascinating window into the MMOG.
Internet Spaceships Are Serious Business: An EVE Online Reader is now available to buy at Amazon as a paperback, hardcover and for Kindle.