I was listening to a Podside show recently when a line caught my attention:
"EVE is a sandbox and some people like to eat the sand." - Longinius Spear
Spear was telling a story about him and a friend trying to murder a Gnosis pilot. I won't tell the full story. Needless to say, the Gnosis pilot was totally unaware of Spear's intentions and had demonstrated some rather unusual behaviour prior to his demise. It seemed like this dude just had a rather strange way of playing and that his type of sandbox play was to simply "eat the sand". I think Spear was referring to how some people break the mould and do unexpected or unusual things within the sandbox and/or are just completely oblivious to their surroundings. It got me thinking about how I play EVE and what might drive other players into particular playstyles that could be considered "suboptimal".
A lot of activities in EVE get broken down to how much ISK/hour you can make doing it. I've talked about this before in a previous post. Being able to make ISK is important in EVE. However, it often leads people down the road to EVE becoming like a second job and padding the wallet can become an obsession. In my early attempts at playing the market I'll admit to getting a little obsessed. Watching the ISK roll in was satisfying. I was playing the 1 ISK game because I heard that it was an effective strategy that would get decent ISK/hour. However, I realised that I wasn't having fun. I needed to find fun activities rather than worry about being a space billionaire. That was the catalyst that led me to BNI but it also changed my way of looking at the game in general.
Opportunity cost gets applied to a number of activities in EVE when it comes to making ISK. Some players base almost everything they do in the game around the principle of opportunity cost. It is how I thought when I started, hence the focus on station trading. However, I realised that often I would have the most fun doing things just for the sake of it. I shifted my focus and started doing whatever took my fancy at the time. Feel like mining? Fire up the Retriever. Want to be a space trucker? Undock the space potato (Anshar/Obelisk). Need to prevent the Sansha from expanding its borders? Break out the Raven and smash some anomalies. The point is to try and avoid sacrificing fun for the sake of ISK and just play in the sandbox. I understand the "minerals are free" thing. People just like building things, even if it isn't the most efficient way to convert those mined minerals into ISK.
I'm fortunate that some of the activities I enjoy also yield absurd amounts of ISK, particularly the way I now play the markets. However, the point really is that I also do things that other people think are dumb. I do them because its fun. My most recent example is buying one of each bomb blueprint original and researching them to perfect ME/TE. That cost about 1.2 Billion isk in total (200M per BPO and then ~100M for perfect ME/TE on each). I'm also mining the ore, refining with almost no refining skills and then shipping the uncompressed minerals out to null sec with my JF in the spare cargo space I often have. I'm then going to build some bombs locally and keep a stock of minerals so that bomb types can be manufactured on demand. I can picture any industrialists out there cringing pretty badly as they read this. Why am I doing it? I'm doing it because part of me thinks it will be more fun to bomb people with home made bombs. So the next time you get bored grinding out ISK, or wonder why you aren't having fun in a videogame, remember that EVE is a sandbox. Sometimes it's more fun to eat the sand.