In the universe of Eve Online community is very important. Although some players enjoy the solitude of exploration, mining, or solo ratting, many join up with a group of players who match their ideology and play style. Still other have grand ambitions of their own and seek to eventually create, grow, and lead these communities. Fortunately, Eve is designed to encourage cooperative gameplay to achieve ambitious, game redefining goals. Still, New Eden is littered with the broken husks of dead organizations and failed new player corporations. So, if your ambition is to rule over these lands of Eve, how do you get started?
Qualities of a Leader
I was once asked to describe my idea of a leader, someone people would listen to and want to follow, someone whose leadership others found compelling. My response: “Imagine a person who is just SO confident in themselves, and perceivably in you, that it makes what they have to say compelling. They must be highly intelligent and make their views known to you in the strongest and clearest possible way and then rarely deviate from those views.” If you are looking to build a community in Eve Online, you must have a clear idea of what to focus on, and make sure you bring people onboard that are seeking similar goals. As players, we love to feel important, but so does every other player. Pilots will talk to you for hours, if you let them talk about themselves, their goals, their ambitions. If you can help your organization achieve their goals in a sincere and appreciative way, you’ll have no shortage of dedicated line members.
The biggest mistake made by many new player organizations in Eve is that they try to appeal to everyone. If you pull up the in-game corporation search tool, you will find a lot of new corporations with no description, all default settings, and every player activity possible checked off. What kind of corp are you? “Well, uh, we do PvP, PvE, exploration, mining, industry, faction warfare, and lots of other activities I can’t remember right now. Oh please, oh please, oh please, will you join my corp?” A corporation that promises to do everything probably will – extremely poorly. So, one vital thing for you to do ahead of time is form a clear vision for your organization and what kind of pilots you want in that organization.
A man once said, “The loudest person in the room is the weakest person in the room.” While you can’t have a strong leader who looms in the background and never speaks, it is a very strong position to analyze what everyone in a loud crowded room is saying before coming forward with something important. You need to be genuinely interested in the people in your organization. You can make more allies in two months by being interested in them than by talking about how great you are for two years. Many times, in New Eden, players don’t want an entertaining conversation partner (although you’ll find a wide variety of colorful characters should you wish); they just want someone who will listen to them. You can be a strong leader, but also a good listener who encourages others to share their views as well.
Now for the hardest part of building a successful rewarding player organization: administrating the players. You want to lead through example and this takes time. Give your people a great reputation to live up to, and they will desire to embody the characteristics you have already attributed to them. In the universe of Eve Online it’s easy, and usually socially acceptable, to tear people a new one for making mistakes. “If we ever, EVER, leave f-ing system again with two f-ing dictors, I’m killing f-ing all of you.”
For veteran EVE players, this ranting behavior doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. You just assume that your Director or Fleet Commander is very passionate about you doing well. However, as far as analyzing typical human behavior, it goes more like this: nothing diminishes the dignity of a pilot quite like an insult to his or her pride. If we don’t condemn players in front of their peers, we allow them to save face. They will do better in the future, confident that they can do better, and they will bring others to your cause. If you snub them, out of arrogance or momentary fury at a job poorly done, it could bring catastrophic, “butterfly effect” results.
Framing the Narrative
Next, dramatize your ideas and goals. I’m not saying lie, but simply stating the truth or giving facts often isn’t enough. The truth must be made interesting and dramatic; it must be framed. Historians have been doing this since ancient Greece, because people understand events better when they are presented as part of an organized narrative with a beginning, middle, and end.
To really pull your organization together, throw down a challenge. The thing that most motivates players of Eve Online is the game. Everyone desires to excel and to prove their worth in some way, by becoming an expert in a particular niche, or achieving great wealth, or by becoming a killing machine in PvP. If you want a group of people to do something, you need to give them a challenge and they will often rise to meet it.
How do you rule these lands of Eve? You don’t. Your people do.