Header Art by Redline XIII
Having played EVE for 10 years but living in the jungles of South-East Asia, the thought of participating in an EVE event did not reach out and grab my attention. FanFest looked interesting, but it is an awfully long way to travel in order to hang out with a bunch of people I didn’t really know.
Two years ago I joined the evil goons and very quickly got dragged into a very large family and started feeling that I was part of something larger than the game. I had helped to run an alliance before but nothing I was a part of in EVE was quite like the community that is Goonswarm.
Last year, however, I decided that going to FanFest was something I wanted to do. I wanted to look my alliance mates in the eye, shake their hands and create the bonds that comes from physical presence and contact. Sadly something came up and I had to put it off for a year, and then FanFest was cancelled, so my plan was adjusted to go to EVEsterdam. A corpmate of many years, Bobbins Laxt and his wife, were going too so we could experience it together.
Being part of the alliance meant that there was help at hand through the forums with recommendations of accommodations and an idea of who was attending and what was going to happen. I booked everything, and at the last minute had two shirts monogrammed with my real name, in-game name, corporation and alliance. I flew into Amsterdam on Thursday night, where I met up with Bobbins before getting back to the hotel and crashing.
As I was flying quite a distance and jet lag might be an issue, I gave myself an extra day to wander, get situated and get some extra rest. I was glad I did as it also allowed me to meet up with a few other early-birds and attend the event pre-party at Cafe Schuim.
The Imperium contingent chose to use Telegram to coordinate our plans. In the beginning, it was spammed as alliance members excitedly waited for the event. We got pictures of local weather, daily activity and other chatter. On Friday evening, though, the group took on the role it was meant to fulfil, helping us find each other. I didn’t know what anyone looked like and Telegram helped bring us together. Standing outside the Central train station with thousands of people we started forming up.
One goon member found me, and then others joined up until we were a group of five. As luck would have it, Dirk Stetille was one of them. As we are eve players, we designated him FC and off we went for an aimless roam till we found the target, the pre-party. It was great to be strangers brought together by a game, an app, and a desire to have fun together.
I walked in to the venue, and there were a lot of people who are smiling and obviously EVE players, but… I don’t recognise a person. I felt like a small fish in a big bowl, and I wondered if I belonged. So I just started going about and saying hello to folk and did what I wanted to do. Shook their hand, looked into their eyes and asked who they were and what alliance they flew with. Within 30 minutes I again felt that I was part of this great community. There were Goons, Init, NC, Horde, PL and even a guy from Fraternity. Enemies became friends as we all played EVE and were excited to be there.
The party was great. We hung out till about midnight and then headed back to the hotel as a fleet. The day’s mission had been accomplished – I had started my EVEsterdam and felt I was part of something.
Registration was simple and we got a bunch of swag. 300+ fellow EVE addicts all milling about waiting for the Opening Ceremony. Some were already drinking, others enjoying the weather outside and puffing what Amsterdam is famous for. Excitement was everywhere amid quite a few hangovers. We now had our event tags with our names in large letters, but the Corp and Alliance font was rather small, so many people were reaching out to read if others were friend or foe. There was a migration into the theatre itself and we got settled for the opening presentation. People were happy the event was officially starting.
After the final presentation, of the day, we started heading toward the restaurant where an Imperium dinner had been arranged. We ate at an Argentinean Steakhouse (they are everywhere in Amsterdam, but I have no idea why) that was a small walk away from the main venue but served up a great meal and looked after us well. It was so nice to be able to see who was Imperium from all the pilots attending. Huge thanks to Dirk for his bravery in arranging the dinner, and how lucky he was that we didn’t all run off and leave him with the bill.
After dinner, we wandered back to the theatre where a party was set up for us. Part of the swag from the registration were some drink tickets which just got people going, and lubrication was definitely the main activity of the party. We mingled and got to know each other better. I had a guy trying to sell me bombers when we got back online. Quite a few were trying to recruit attendees into their alliance/corp. I also got to meet CCPs Guard, Dopamine, Fozzie and Burger, which was an absolute delight.
arty we all did until pumpkin time and then fleeted with Uber back to the hotel for a nightcap before heading off to bed with a huge smile. What a glorious day. I was so so happy I had made the trip.
On the schedule, the first talk was meant to be about EVE/Gaming addiction which doesn’t apply to me (30+ accounts for 8+ hours a day). Unfortunately, this was cancelled at the last minute – the presenter was back in EVE and couldn’t attend was the rumour – to be replaced by a panel discussion on game lore which didn’t really interest me, so I had a later start. The second talk was given by CCP Ghost, who had looked into the players of EVE and discovered who we are. My God, it was the best presentation I had attended in many a year. He peered into our souls and the stats we create and painted a picture of us that was spot on. (https://www.twitch.tv/videos/400419490?t=01h39m20s, it starts at 1:42:30). I had not expected this presentation and was truly taken aback with his eloquence and insight.
The part of the day that was most bittersweet was the Closing Ceremony. Firstly cause it signalled the end of the event, but even more so because it was the very last farewell of CCP Guard. For many a year, I have appreciated CCP Guard though the streams and videos I watched, and now he was moving on to other pastures. The send-off was tear-filled, heartfelt and showed how much the players of EVE cared. The gifts and accolades galore were truly deserved.
To close out the weekend there was a cruise for the diehards around the harbour. This was a last chance to see new friends and say farewell, a last chance to borrow other alliances flags for mischief. A last chance to tell CCP Guard how appreciative we are for all that he has done. Smiles were all around, with promises to see each other again next year in Iceland.
The following day for me was checking out of the hotel, heading over to the airport and departing homeward-bound with a confused feeling. Great sadness that it was all over, but also a deep sense of warmth for all the new friends I made. I hope very much to play with them online and see them at events for many years to come.
I would like to thank Dirk Stetille for his leadership, support and charm. Anne, Deirdra, their support team and all the CCP devs who made EVEsterdam the happening event. Special thanks goes to CCP Guard for all your work.
So…. if you happen to be thinking about attending an event, don’t think, just do it. You will realise how we are all a community. Imperium, PanFam or other alliances, we all play EVE and love it. Meet your fellow addicts and have a fantastic time with them. I look forward to seeing you in Iceland in April 2020.