The echoes of laughter and revelries from the weekend at EVE Vegas has faded into the haze of everyday routines. The unreality of real life feels slow, as if I’d stepped off of a people mover and now have to move my own legs. I feel swollen, my ears ring, my voice is hoarse, but deep down I feel satisfied.
One of the best things about meeting fellow EVE players at a gathering like EVE Vegas or Fanfest, is the instant bond of the MMO allows for common ground among strangers. You can talk to anyone, without feeling like you are intruding. It is also a great opportunity to take the true measure of your in game adversaries, which mostly leads to comraderies. This is why The Mittani can put his arm around Lenny Kravitz2, why Lady Scarlet can at DaBigRedBoat, and why Progodlegend and Gobbins can spill their battle plans to each other. As Lady Scarlet would say, “at the end of the day” you realize players are just people with the same interests you have. This is artistically explained by Grath Telkin in this EVEVegas video.
I expected to write a post Vegas equivalent of a “tears in the rain” from that iconic Blade Runner monologue. I would describe the amazing things I’d seen that “you people wouldn’t believe.” Unfortunately, that will have to wait. I received news that a corpmate of mine was leaving EVE to spend his remaining days with his family. The Blade Runner analogy changed from the incredible sights of that past few days, to that of the replicant Roy Batty searching for a way to find more time. His situation is a private matter but our connection has illuminated something that is very real and worth sharing.
My little industrial corp only ever had one member besides me: an eager DICE corp member who wanted to learn manufacturing. His name was Nasagasa Bump (Nasa), a young man who spoke French and very little English. I invited him to join my corp with his industrial alt. Being a dedicated CEO for a proper corp was never in the cards due to real life, which is why I never attempted to grow the corp, but I made an exception for Nasa. Teaching one player how to do something I knew very well might be something that could be fit into my schedule.
Playing together and teaching is time-consuming, especially when language barriers are involved. Nasa’s lessons cut into my writing/podcasting time and so I inevitably put him off several times. We ended up only having a few lessons over Skype, despite this he managed to build some things which was a credit to his ability to work on his own. I finally told him it would be hard for us to continue in a mentoring relationship, but that he was welcome to stay in corp and use its resources. He did stay, but went silent for months.
The corp was dormant as most of my free time was spend writing, streaming, or making the Imperium.News site. Every once in a while, I’d see the name Nasagasa Bump and wondered about him. Any prudent CEO would have kicked him to avoind any chance of being ripped off or humiliated, but I could not remove him in good conscience. It would mean failure as a mentor, and I expected to have free time at some point. I left things as they were. Corp channel was silent.
After coming home from Las Vegas, Lady Scarlet, the CEO of DICE, received a letter of resignation from Nasa. He requested that she accept someone new who would take over his character:
I keep very good memories of our war against goons in the north and is on this note that I will leave the game and return my deposit a future generation so what can in turn enjoy a play in turn. It was for me a memorable experience!
You have been with me a very good person I care about you and my ultimate dream to go home on a wave of happiness. But the disease being a hardest thing in life I’ll retire and enjoy my wife and other pleasure in life.
I’m going with this sentence to say a big thank you and a good road full of good in your life! Thank you for having accepted a small french! in your place. Full of happiness and luck to you madam.
When I saw the name Nasa, I immediately reached out via Skype and that’s when I noticed I had missed a very important message written back in August. It was in response to a message I had sent earlier explaining it was hard to find time to teach him, and I was sorry we had not finished our lessons.
no probleme mate i have a irl hard and i am sick with a cancer i have tell Ladie for that if you see the team destructive influence send my regards at all my friend and lady for the moment i am on a clinic and i restored myself. have a good day mister matteral and see you later when I’ll be in shape have a good day and greet my friend from me 0/
He was taking a break to be further treated for cancer. It was an important message and in my day to day shuffling of skype windows missed it. I wondered if he thought I saw that message and wanted nothing more to do with him, which was an awful thought. Now it was months later and he wrote Lady Scarlet that his treatment had “no result,” as he put it. I felt terrible for missing something so important, especially now that he was leaving. I reached out through Skype immediately. To my surprise he responded instantly. There was an overwhelming sense of urgency on my part:
David Matterall: Hey Nas – I didn’t read this message until today. I missed the massage. I am very sorry to hear you are not well and I heard from Lady Scarlet that you are leaving the game to spend time with your family. Great idea. WE will miss you but we understand. I still have you in my corp, and I feel very sorry for not being able to help you learn more about building ships and stuff.
Nasagasa Bump: hi my friend. i am very happy to see you this time. during the dark time for me : )
You are a great guy and thanks for playing this game with me. I wish I had made more time for you when you wanted to learn.
yes is the life but you have been a very good source of knowledge for me
I could have done better.
It was also a shame for me not to learn more from you but my health is reduced by time. I have [taken] great pleasure in trying to understand and translate your show I look at is who are very cool
I’ll do one in French!
you have been a supported me when I return in the sleeve of this NC (alliance)
Well you are a great guy. Very nice, very patient.
you are a very good person Mr. matteral continue to regale us with your vote in connaissance [knowledge] talk show
I still owe you some minerals! Next show I do, I’ll give you a “shout out” and say hello.
no my friends you should give me nothing has a new player who will join the company’s connaissance. its a great chance to meet you in this game. you took the time to teach me and show me things. you are a man of heart my friends
It is my pleasure to know you. Again, I wish I spoke French so we could have talked easily. Well you are a good student. I wish I could have spent more time with you. I got busy doing too many things, and now I see that I made some choices badly. If I knew you were not well, I would have played more with you and spent less time doing writing/podcasting. I’m glad you are taking time to spend with family.
My friend, know that my character will be given a new player so that he can learn the game and start easy : )
I’ll take care of him, help him through the game
i think in this game. the cycle continues. No I would never assez [enough] to thank you for you to be honest I shed a tear on the memory of you when you have help me
yes, for all of us, it is a cycle. what is your friend’s name?
he take my character and this name is Jérôme he have 14 years and he dont speak a good English is the same of me the same mentality. i give him my character because i see on him a flame on him
ok, good. I’ll treat him well. I hope he likes the game. And we’ll be able to hear how you are doing from him.
I place my hopes in him. I always look upon your show my pc or I would translate them more time and labor but with much joy
well… I’ll mention you on the show. Maybe try to speak a little French! Also I’ll write a story about my 1 corpmate who had to leave the corp to spend time with family.
you are also a light to the future character eve thank you for your time you give. to please me always keep your mind help you are a very good person in your heart moon friend
I always will
you are a wonderful people
I would spend trying to talk to you more often but for the moment I am unable to speak following a sick voice
It’s no problem. You can always write me on Skype
one last thing for me Before I Go to Sleep. soyer you always because you are super. i go sleep i have past 15 minute on my pc and i am very tired
ok, get some rest.
have a good night mister SUPER !
in my heart you are always my friend !
have a good morning on los angeles! and a good day of work
haha ok – I’m going to write a story about you for EVE. I’ll do that soon. is that OK?
no probleme : ) take enjoys to script
its about cycles in EVE and how you have to go… and how sad that makes me. ok – have a good night
for me help the newbe in eve is my priority. for you it is easy to write you of gold in your hand
when my health will be better I would go talk to you because you are a great man for the moment I need repauser [rest] me I just sort of hospital. the drug bleeds me
great – do whatever you need. and let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I’m right here on Skype anytime you need.
My wife ordered the cessation of the pc has soon. good night mister matteral
ok good night! o7
It is physically painful to cry; I had forgotten that until now. The volcanic eruption started in my chest climbed into my head, crashing through my face, pushing aside any resistance. My eyes steamed and burned. I was at work so I had to leave my desk to splash water on my face, making excuses to workmates that I had a cold from Vegas. That kept them at bay. I had a stronger connection to an EVE player than I had with anyone around me in those moments, even people I’d worked with for more than 10 years.
Sometimes I hate this torturous game; the boredom, the responsibility, the losses, the frustrations. But to hate the game is to hate life itself. What is existential about MMO’s is that the emotions are real even if we are experiencing them in relation to a persistent virtual world. As players we have the luxury of feeling the power without consequence. In EVE we imagine ourselves as immortals, cloned several times over. We get to kill without conscience, even if we role play, the mortal crews that die with us are hardly considered. They are nothing compared to real players. If players actually leave the game, it is a happy occasion. They go on to focus on more productive things like school, relationships, work promotions or new jobs. We never really say goodbye. Even players that rage quit find their way back years later. So players can bond without any real risk, except in a case like this. There is young man behind the name Nasa that is saying goodbye. His name will be carried by another, but he will go. This all part of the cycle that Nasa mentions in the transcript above.
The Greater Good
Writing this might be a way of putting this event into a box to study it, like a photo journalist using a camera to put some distance between himself and his subjects. I still do not fully understand the intense introspection for a relationship that can be counted in hours. I feel for Nasa’s plight, admire his decision to spend time with his wife, and am in awe of his generosity in his dark hours. When I think about the times I have wept, they have been situations like this one – when people must part against their will. It seems so unfair.
He must have sensed that I felt deep regret. I only ever let one guy into my corp, this guy, and my job was to mentor him on how to build stuff. All I hear in the back of my mind is “you had ONE JOB” and I feel as though I failed to do it. Nasa pushes that away and thanks me again and again for my generosity, in affect taking away my feeling of helplessness by convincing me I already did help him.
Nasa reads what I write, and says he takes joy in translating it. He can hear or watch the “Talking in Stations” show (TiS) that I host. By apprising me that he enjoyed my show – even though it was in a different language than his own – he, yet again, lifted guilt away from me and set me free to do more. In a sense he sacrificed having me be a dedicated CEO so that others could benefit from my time. Here is a sweet story I was going to keep private, but will reveal in case Nasa is reading. He made this possible:
While I was at EVEVegas, many people thanked me for doing the TiS show. They enjoyed the work, and I felt humbled. TiS has always been a group effort so I accept the compliments on behalf of everyone who makes the show possible. On the last night in Vegas, I was invited up to Mercenary Coalition’s party suite. While things were happening – like Lady Scarlet and Seleene sitting together on a pair of couch thrones, or The Mittani letting Lenny Kravitz2 pose with him for a picture, or Chribba briefly stopping in to meet Seleene – a man approached me and said he watched TiS. He recounted that when he was in the hospital – having donated a kidney to his son – he and his son watched the show while recovering. Now his son watches TiS regularly.
These last few days have reminded me why I volunteer so much time creating things for others. I am also reminded that the people close to me will not always be there. This is something my friend Nasa knows better than me. He will be spending what time he has left with the people he loves, and passing along the gift of EVE to another person who has the same flame he had when he was playing. In this most important regard, Nasa is the mentor and I am the student.
The Name Matterall
When I first started writing I wanted to use a virtual pen name so that I didn’t get primaried in-game, but also so that I didn’t have to worry about offending the wrong people. The phrase “All Things Matter” popped into my head, and that inspired the name Matterall. Today, I am reminded that all players matter, especially the ones looking for help. Just a few minutes of your time to help someone can make a big difference in the quality of their game experience and in so doing, provide a measure of happiness or pleasure that gives them respite from real life troubles, however briefly.
In his TiS interview, The Mittani explained that he just grabbed a name from his catalog of characters and used it for his EVE character with little thought given. Now that name is fused onto him. In the same way Matterall, a name also chosen with little forethought, has been fused onto me. Most of my EVE-related creations are presented under the name Matterall. As Nasa greets me as “mister Matterall,” I feel incredibly happy to have that name mean something to other people and in turn, myself. Nasa and I do not know each other’s real names so we bonded through the names Nasa and Matterall, and that is fine by me. These names we assign to our characters can have enormous meaning to us individually and to others as well.
I’ve probably overwritten this article because I don’t want it to end, as if typing words were a means of holding on to these moments, but nothing stops time.
In closing, I want to return to the most important lesson learned: Nasa said “i think in this game the cycle continues” as he replaces himself with his young friend that has the same “flame on him” that Nasa sees in himself. That flame to thrive in EVE, to explore and understand the vastness of virtual worlds. The flame to connect with other players and make genuine bonds. Nasa sends him to continue the journey. I’ll put him under my wing, where Nasa was before him, and consider it a small chance to redeem overlooking my friend. Sometimes the smaller things in your life are more important than the larger ones, but you only see this in hindsight and often too late to adjust priorities. I hope everyone finds their Nasagasa, and spends a little more time with them. And I hope that those who find it easy to write, who have of “gold in their hands,” share their work with the public.
While Nasa came to me to learn how to produce items in a virtual game, what he has taught me about real life and priorities is the unexpected gift of our acquaintance. He thanks me, but I should be thanking him – and I will every day.
Goodnight Nasa, I’ll ring again tomorrow.
Note from Author: This article as written on Monday night, but was held after learning that DJ Big Country had passed. It has been a heavy week.